Bacon Bros. Band Perform for Bancroft NeuroHealth
Perhaps no other band has gotten more mileage out of the element of surprise than the Bacon Brothers. "We've been chipping away at that awareness, chipping away at the fact that most people think we're gonna suck," co-front man and global film star Kevin Bacon says, reflecting on he and his brother Michael's first 11 years as a band.
In a recent interview with Kevin and Michael Bacon we talked about their uniquely different careers and the closeness they share with their family. One of the brothers' four sisters known as "the blondes" is Hilda Bacon who heads special events and outreach programs for Bancroft NeuroHealth located in Haddonfield New Jersey. For the past 3 years the Bacon Brothers Band bring out their best to perform for this incredible facility. Bancroft offers a wide range of state-of-the-art services to children and adults with autism, developmental disabilities, brain injuries and other neurological impairments. Services include educational, vocational, residential, rehabilitation and therapeutic interventions based on the individual needs of each person the organization serves.
Founded in 1883 by Philadelphia special education pioneer Margaret Bancroft, the organization began as one of the first schools for children with developmental disabilities. Today, Bancroft NeuroHealth is a multi-faceted organization with facilities in New Jersey and Delaware. Based in Haddonfield, NJ, the organization serves more than 1,000 individuals and families annually.
There is a strong Philly history with the Bacon family.Their father Edmund N. Bacon was a noted American urban planner, architect, educator, and author. During the 1990s he proposed new concepts to improve Philadelphia landmarks Independence Mall, Penn's Landing, and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway .
Long before Kevin became a household name he was writing songs on his own, and playing percussion in Philadelphia coffee houses with his brother and other groups. Meanwhile, Michael, nine years Kevin's senior, had already established himself as a professional musician. "A lot of times people assume that I write all the songs," says Michael, "that I arrange them and I stick Kevin up there as kind of a puppet or something. It's absolutely not that way. In fact, he writes probably 60 percent of the songs and I write probably 40 percent. In fact, he doesn't need me to write with anymore. Maybe a long time ago, he did, but he doesn't need it anymore."
In the early '80s, as Kevin's acting career began to blossom with regular soap opera work, the Bacon brothers lived for a brief while in the same Manhattan building, where they would, when time permitted, continue to work on songs together. While Kevin was finding success on The Guiding Light, Michael's musical career had taken a lucrative turn toward film and TV scoring. Starting with small, offbeat projects, he has since gone on to win an Emmy for his work on the 1992 historical film The Kennedys, one of many in the renowned American Experience documentary series.
Both brothers enjoy successful careers that have paralleled each other most of their young adult lives.
"All my heroes were guys with guitars," Kevin says, remembering his teens. "All my spare change was spent on music. I saw my brother playing out, and moving an audience and I could see how powerful music could be. Around that time I took my first acting class and I fell in love with it, and my life took a different direction." "When we started the band," Michael continues, "he was the only nonprofessional musician in the group, but nobody's waiting for him. He's not holding anybody back. He's worked very hard. We both have. I think that since we formed the band, both of our musical skills have gone way, way up. If he weren't my brother, and if he weren't a movie star, he would still be a fantastic partner in this endeavor. The fact that he is both of those things is just all the more. But I'm not really interested in just the personal relationship. The band is interesting to me in a musical way".
Kevin & Michael agree that growing up in Philadelphia exposed them to an enormous amount of cultural adventures and a wealth of live arts experiences. "We knew the first chairs of the Philadelphia Orchestra better than the Phillies", says Michael.
Both Kevin and Michael have a great amount of love and respect for their sister Hilda and what she has accomplished at Bancroft now in its 125 year serving as a non profit health care facility. In 2001 Bancroft was invited to take classes at the New York Opera Guild at the Met. As a result of this valuable exposure, Hilda Bacon spearheads what she loosely calls the "Opera Project". Each year a dozen or more Bancroft students combine their creative minds to produce a full length production.
"The students are remarkable. They brainstorm, write, and perform in a production every year. This year's production is called "Stranded in Video Game World", says Hilda. The production will be held at the Ritz Theatre Company in Haddon Township, NJ on May 27 and 29.
Kevin adds " These kids are so creative and really wonderful. A few years back, a young student named Willy played guitar so well, we invited him to join us onstage for one of our concerts." This year's Bancroft Benefit was held on April 4 at the Zellerbach Theater, part of the beautiful Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, in Philadelphia.
Getting back to the Bacon Bros band; as Kevin said "they really do NOT suck". In fact this six piece band is quite talented. From some amazing guitar playing, and smokin' keyboards to various instruments Kevin grabs up to blow, beat or clang, the Bacon Bros. do indeed make some nice noise up there. Michael and Kevin switch up doing lead vocals, but Michael is also an impressive cello artist. Their music is hard to categorize but seems to be a collection of folks, ballads, country rock with a touch of soul; truly a unique sound. They write from the heart and their work has an earthy honesty that tells stories; some insightful and some are downright fun.
Both Kevin and Michael gladly put aside time from their busy schedules to get together with the band to make music and both are very happy to be able to give back to their hometown area. The fact that one of their sisters is part of such a wonderful organization is just an added reason to give back to those who help others.
Photos contributed by: Paul LaRaia, Jimmy Ienner Jr. and Daniel Derella