Jeff Bridges & The Abiders to Play Ridgefield Playhouse, 9/6
Movie star and Oscar winner for Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges & The Abiders, his band, are coming to The Ridgefield Playhouse on Saturday, September 6, at 8 p.m. to do what Jeff loves to do when he's not acting: perform his brand of country music. There are numerous echoes of Crazy Heart to be found on Jeff's new album, Jeff Bridges. It may mark a switch from the six-time Oscar nominee's usual day job, but the performances on Jeff Bridges consistently feel both comfortable and true. The album is a logical follow-up to Bridges' Academy Award-winning portrayal of grizzled former country music legend Bad Blake in the 2009 film Crazy Heart. "This album is a natural extension of the love of music I've had all my life," commented Bridges. And, in fact, "natural" is as good a word as any to describe the feeling of Bridges' self-titled major label debut. Featuring a roster of magnificent songwriters and musicians, and produced by Bridges' friend of three decades, Grammy-award winner T Bone Burnett, the ten-song disc is soulful and heartfelt. Special guest is daughter Jessie Bridges, a singer/songwriter whose songs range from spirited and twangy to soulful and vulnerable and appeal to a variety of listeners. An AllShows.com VIP Party Pass ($25 addt'l per person), which includes a cocktail party from 6:30 - 7:15 p.m. with open bar, hors-d'oeuvre and priority parking, is available for this show by calling the box office (203-438-5795). This event is part of the Doyle Coffin Singer/Songwriter and Xfinity Rock Series.
In addition to T Bone Burnett's participation on the Jeff Bridges album, songwriters Stephen Bruton, John Goodwin, and Greg Brown contributed to both the Crazy Heart film project and the Jeff Bridges album, and Ryan Bingham (who won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a Grammy Award for co-writing the film's "The Weary Kind") adds vocals to the opening track, "What a Little Bit of Love Can Do." Burnett assembled his usual team of ace musicians-including drummer Jay Bellerose, bassist Dennis Crouch, keyboardist Keefus Ciancia, Russ Paul on pedal steel, and guitarist Jackson Smith, along with the astonishing Marc Ribot adding guitar on some tracks-plus guest vocalists Rosanne Cash, Sam Phillips, and Benji Hughes.
Perhaps the most notable element of Jeff Bridges, though, is the extraordinary songwriting by writers including Greg Brown and the late Stephen Bruton. Their contributions, next to four songs that Bridges wrote or co-wrote, add up to a unified voice for the album-simple but philosophical, concise but profound.
Bridges' involvement in music goes back a lot longer, and far deeper, than just this one film. "I've been into music ever since I was a kid," he says. "My mother forced me to take piano lessons, maybe when I was around 8-I got as far as 'Fur Elise' and I bailed, and I've regretted it ever since." But then he discovered his brother Beau's Danelectro guitar, and starting in high school, joined up with his grade-school buddy Goodwin and a group of other friends for a Wednesday night jam session, which continued, every week, for the next fifteen years.
Though his parents, actors Dorothy and Lloyd Bridges, encouraged their kids to pursue the thespian track, Jeff was more interested in music and art. But when he started to see some success in the movies at a young age, he says he was "drawn to the path of least resistance, and music took a backseat-but I was still writing all that time." As he made more films, and became one of the most prominent and respected actors of his time, Bridges found that music was often a key element in his projects.
For tickets ($90), call or visit the box office at (203) 438-5795. The Ridgefield Playhouse is a not-for-profit performing arts center located at 80 East Ridge, parallel to Main Street, Ridgefield, CT; ridgefieldplayhouse.org.