Bacon Brothers kick off St. Regis Big Stars concert series
Ryan Summerlin June 27, 2014
The sizzle of a Park City summer will pop wide open with the Bacon Brothers kicking off the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concert series at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater on Saturday, June 28.
Both Emmy Award-winning composer Michael and his younger Golden Globe Award-winning brother Kevin have a history with Park City. They have performed together twice at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts and have each had multiple projects with the Sundance Film Festival.
The siblings talked with The Park Record in a conference call to talk about balancing their individual careers with their band. Both started the conversation off by reminiscing about their times visiting Park City.
"Park City is such a beautiful area and such a real place," Michael said from his studio in New York City. "It doesn’t feel like a manufactured ski fantasy. We both love to ski and I would say, for our family, getting together to go skiing is the apex of family relationships."
Kevin, calling in from Los Angeles, California, said his first venture to Park City was during in 1981 when the Sundance Film Festival was called the U.S. Film Festival.
"I had a movie there and both the town and festival were different," he said. "Park City was a little sleepy town and I remember going to the screening and walking up Main Street to the Egyptian Theatre and there was snow that was different than I’ve seen on the East Coast. I fell in love with it."
Kevin would return to Utah to film "Footloose" in Provo and Orem, but would always head up to the Sundance Resort on the weekends.
"I love it there, and we’ve always had good gigs there," he said.
This time around the Bacon Brothers and their band — bassist Paul Guzzone, drummer Frank Vilardi, keyboardist Joe Mennonna and electric guitarist Ira Siegel — are planning to play some songs from their previous six albums and some from their new album, "36 ," which will be released in a few weeks.
"We are doing a lot of stuff from the new CD and we just had a three-day run in D.C., where we had a chance to work on the new stuff," Michael said. "Somehow the songs on the new CD are difficult to perform. I don’t know exactly why. It’s been great to have those three days and I feel the band is pretty tuned up for the Park City gig. I’m really excited to come out."
The Bacon Brothers write a majority of their songs, and, on occasion, play some covers.
"These songs are all over the map because we’re two writers who write pretty differently," Michael explained. "We have songs that are pretty intimate between Kevin and me and some are full-tilt rock ‘n’ roll and everything in between."
Recording "36 " was a different experience than the other six, even though each album has it’s own quirks, Kevin said.
"This one is a little more piecemeal because we had different producers," he said. "A lot of the guys in the band have home studios, so we passed the tracks around a little bit so they could record their parts."
When the recording sessions began, the Bacons had five or six new songs ready to go, but knew they needed some more to fill out the album.
"So, we went back into our past recordings and found some interesting things we recorded but didn’t make any of our records," Kevin said. "We had different versions of older songs and a live session we did with Daryl Hall from ‘Live from Daryl’s House.’ It was a Paul Weller song and we liked the way it turned out, so we stuck that on the new CD."
The Bacons first discovered their love for music while growing up in Philadelphia.
"I don’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t incredibly fascinated with music," Michael said. "Luckily, we grew up in a household that really wanted us to be inspired by the arts."
Ironically, their parents weren’t actual musicians.
"My mother played mandolin, but not very well and my father was a terrible singer, but they loved music," Michael said. "Our house was full of it, and as a child in that area, you’re living life in full Technicolor.
"I absorbed so much stuff as a child, both in the art area as a cellist and in folk and rock as a banjo and guitar player in a jug band with my sister," he said. " the time I was 12, all the things I used in my everyday career as a composer and songwriter were already in place. I’ve never wanted to, or felt confident doing anything else."
Kevin’s introduction to music came from watching his brother.
"I saw him create songs and playing in bands and, of course, I was enamored with that," Kevin said. "I was also enamored with rock ‘n’ roll and soul music since I was a little kid."
Kevin’s heroes were always guys with guitars.
"I wasn’t into sports or science or math, but music I’ve always liked and Philadelphia is a big music city," he said. "I started to write songs and would bring them to my brother and he would figure out how to play them."
Because Michael had started a music career, Kevin wanted to do something creatively different.
"I took acting classes with the encouragement of my mother and fell in love with it," Kevin said. "But at the end of the day, I always sat down and tried to pluck away at the guitar and I sort of continued doing that."
Throughout the pop-music history there have been sibling duos that have produced some memorable tunes.
The Everly Brothers, the Carpenters and even Edward and Alex Van Halen fall into that category.
For the Bacon Brothers, working with together is not only artistically fulfilling, but also a great way to spend time with each other.
"When we perform, for example, like when we were in D.C. for those three nights, we are together all the time," Michael said. "There is also a level of trust that you don’t usually have outside your family’s intimate circle and that helps a lot with the business aspect of it all.
"Then, musically, when you write a new song, you write it for yourself, but you also have to figure out a way to get the audience into it," he said. "You work together on it and that’s one of the most exciting things about playing music."
Unlike some creative siblings that tend to dwell on rivalry, the biggest challenges for the Bacons to play music together are their schedules.
"I keep my movie schedule going because that’s my bread and butter, but a lot of times the music dates come up earlier and more often than film jobs do, so when they conflict it’s a difficult situation," Kevin said. "Getting to places can sometimes become a ‘Trains, Planes and Automobiles’ nightmare."
Still, said Michael, it could be a lot worse.
"We’ve had a lot of practice with dealing with that over the past 20 years," he said. "It’s not easy, but I think we are able to smooth the edges out."
The two are happy to have the opportunity to spend most of the summer together.
"We didn’t have a big window to tour, but we are able to get in a lot of dates," Michael said. "We did have to reschedule some, but we’re able to work it out and as far as I can tell, Kevin’s getting all the movies he wants in and we’re getting out and promoting the new CD."
The Bacon Brothers will cut loose as they kick off the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights summer series at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater on Saturday, June 28. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and the concert starts at 7 p.m. Lawn tickets are still available for $40. They can be purchased by calling 435-655-3114 or visiting www.bigstarsbrightnightsConcerts.org . Tickets can also be purchased at the gate. For a full schedule, see accompanying story titled "The 2014 lineup for the Park City Institute’s St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Concerts." For more information, visit www.ecclescenter.org .