Bridges takes his band on the road

'Crazy Heart' role as aging country star inspired the actor to amp up his music
2013-04-11T00:00:00Z Bridges takes his band on the roadCathalena E. Burch Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

If only he had a tour bus, Jeff Bridges could live out his perfect rock 'n' roll dream.

"It's kind of a ... fantasy I've had since I was a teenager. 'Wouldn't it be great to be on the road?' Boy that sounds like a fun thing to do," said the 63-year-old movie star who is realizing that fantasy in a handful of shows with his Americana-rock band The Abiders. His 15-show tour pulls into Fox Tucson Theatre Wednesday.

Bridges has played music all his life, but mostly as a hobby, focusing his creative energy on a critically acclaimed acting career that started when he was 9.

But his turn as an aging country star in the 2009 hit movie "Crazy Heart" and working with one of the country's most dynamic producers, T-Bone Burnett, inspired him to do music for real.

For Bridges, being a musician is not a vanity project; it's part of his DNA. In addition to appearing on the "Crazy Heart" soundtrack, Bridges and Burnett recorded a second album, "Jeff Bridges," that was released in August 2011. Bridges also released an indie project, "Be Here Soon," in 2010

"I've been playing music since I was a kid," he said during a phone call from home in Los Angeles in early March. "When 'Crazy Heart' took off, I thought 'Wow, I've got to parlay this thing. If I'm ever going to do more music, now's the time.' That really kind of set things off for me."

His tour with The Abiders, a group of "my homeboys" from Santa Barbara, takes him to Seattle, Portland, Ore., Carmel, Calif., and the Stagecoach Festival at Indio, Calif., later this month.

In our conversation with Bridges, he talked about being on the road and making music and movies.

What has it been like going back to the music and devoting all of your energy to it?

"It's a bit like being an actor in the movies. I can't help but have it be related to that. It's a bit like making a movie: You rehearse and … when the cameras start rolling or you get up on stage, you kind of let it rip."

How would you describe your music?

"I guess there's an Americana gist to it, but I would like not to categorize it. I'm working up some new tunes and some of the tunes on the album that T-Bone Burnett and I did to me don't really fall into any category. There's some jazz elements to it, I suppose. But I just kind of look at it as my music. ... Some things fall into classic country. Some of the tunes I do are from my old friend John Goodwin, a Nashville songwriter, and there are a lot of, from my tastes, classic country tunes that he's written that I enjoy playing."

Do you have a new album in the works?

"I'd like to think that it's in the works. We haven't set a recording date or something like that, but certainly we are gathering tunes."

What are your live shows like?

"I guess each one has a slightly different flavor. We have a good time with the band, and I hope that that's contagious and the audience has a great time, as well. We'll be doing some songs from 'Crazy Heart' and some new songs and some songs off my first album 'Be Here Soon.' And we'll do a couple of surprise covers."

And will we learn about your Hollywood career in between songs?

"Well, I don't know. I'll do a little patter between songs, and movies are such a big part of my life that I usually do end up telling some kind of movie stories."

Do you dish dirt? Are we going to find out some juicy behind-the-scenes gossip?

"Dirt is good, isn't it? What would you like to know about?"

Are you and Karen Allen, your co-star from 1984's "Starman," still friends?

"Oh yeah. As a matter of fact I was just talking about her yesterday. I was saying if we ever get to New York, I've got to get her to break out her harp. She plays a good harmonica."

Speaking of Hollywood, you have two movies coming out soon.

"We've got a movie called 'R.I.P.D." and a movie called 'The Seventh Son.' And they should be out later this year. And I also just got back from New York promoting a film I'm really pleased with called 'A Place at the Table.' It's about ending hunger here in America and T-Bone does the soundtrack for it and The Civil Wars sing some great songs in it. So I am very excited about that."

What one character or type of character do you still want to play?

"I've never been that kind of guy who had to play a certain thing. There's a few actually in my kit bag that I want to do, but I don't want to let the cat out of the bag. But they are kind of rare. I don't think about that kind of stuff too much. I'm more of a counterpuncher. People will come up: 'Oh that's a good idea.' Every once in a while something will come across the table that is really exciting and inspiring, and that's what I'll end up doing."

Where do you hope to take this music career?

"I'm going to let it go where it wants to go. I would love to make a couple more albums. I've got a couple more songs I would like to realize in that way. Performing is fun. With The Abiders, these guys are my friends and my hometown guys and when we get to play (together), that's a lot of fun."

Do you have fun together on the road?

"Oh, man, yeah. Part of this is a teenage fantasy. You know, getting a band together. It's a realization of that."

Now all you need is the bus.

"We got to get the bus. You're right. One of my favorite aspects is that my wife, who just walked into the room, we get to have her come play with us. But she says no tambourine playing for her."

If you go

• What: Jeff Bridges & The Abiders in concert.

• When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

• Where: Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St.

• Tickets: $32 to $99 through foxtucsontheatre.ticketforce.com

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