Posted: August 16, 2011
From acting to singing, Jeff “bridges” the arts
Plus, Trombone Shorty marches in
Photo credit: Wendy Fopeano
Here's how the Jeff Bridges' Boulder Fox Theater concert went last Friday night: He walked on to the stage in a denim shirt, flat shoes, loose pants and a shock of thick gray hair and began to sing. There were guys in the crowd dressed "Big Lebowski-like," i.e., in robes and ponytailed hair, there was a band that only the clout of Jeff Bridges could pull together and there was that gravelly voice that might be compared to a quieter, less construed Kenny Rogers tone.
I'd like to tell you what songs he sang, but for the life of me, I cannot remember. I am a Jeff Bridges groupie and therefore not a trustworthy reviewer. I do know this, however: Bridges, the actor, has created a wildly devoted fan base while simultaneously cultivating an enviable music life among some of the best musicians in the business.
For example, the band - which Bridges chuckled and introduced as "The Abiders" (to even more wild hoots and applause) - poured their hearts into a couple of John Goodwin tunes. Goodwin is a Nashville songwriter Bridges has known since elementary school and those songs, and others that include help from the likes of Roseanne Cash, are on his self-titled debut album to be released on August 16 on Blue Note Records. It is, not surprisingly, being released with his "Crazy Heart" movie collaborator, T Bone Burnett. Burnett is a multiple Grammy Award-winning songwriter, musician and producer.
Which brings us to Jeff Bridges the singer, who has a PR campaign for the album that is likely only trumped by the campaigns currently running for JayZ and Kanye West. Multiple national day and night TV spots will feature Bridges, a Major League Baseball session is scheduled for this fall and a Blu-Ray release of his hit movie, "The Big Lebowski." also comes out on August 16. So can he sing?
Two other folks' remarks about Jeff Bridges the singer's talent resonate: "He's good enough," and "Well. He's a decent singer."
I think Bridges would say those are fair assessments. He's a mega-star Renaissance man. Part of his success, I believe, is his self-awareness, his ability to know when something is extraordinary, transcending and superb - and when it's good enough. He is at a catalyst moment in his career, allowed to enjoy and participate in - in whatever fashion he wants - all of his passions. One of them is music. I, for one, am glad he's doing it.
P.S. He's not the grizzled, has-been "Bad Blake" character in Crazy Heart. He's rested, slender, relaxed and composed. But boy, can he channel the washed-up guy.
Oh, that's right. It's called acting.
Before Bridges took the stage, Trombone Shorty, just 26-years-old, delivered a crushing, heart-stopping performance. Don't even think T.S. any sort of "front band."
Clearly the best talent to come out of New Orleans in decades, Trombone defies gravity, musical genius and pure electricity, delivering brilliantly crafted, tight tunes that make audiences' hearts and hands and minds explode.
This was my second time seeing Trombone Shorty and I lived in New Orleans for ten years. I watched Harry Connick, Jr., through his pubescent rise, Wynton Marsalis cut his chops, and Kermit Ruffins go from backstage juke joint to national headliner.
Here's what you need to know about Trombone Shorty: He tops all of that. Get every single thing he's recorded and make a point to see him live. Want to know the brilliance of New Orleans and Louisiana soul before the region enrolled in tourist marketing?
It's Trombone Shorty. Makes me want to second line.