Most people would agree that there’s nothing stronger, more durable and occasionally, even more volatile, than the bond between brothers. And when that bond includes the common goal of making music, the results often offer reason for an audience to sit up and take notice. There have been any number of examples in music’s modern era — the Everly Brothers, the Beach Boys, the Kinks and Oasis to name but a few. Not that it’s easy or even agreeable, but there is common cause, and that’s generally enough to ensure there’s passion and purpose in its creation.
Just as the Bacon Brothers. Fiercely devoted to making music, even from an early age (they cite such influences as the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Motown, Led Zeppelin, Philly soul, and James Taylor, with mentions from Michael of Pete Seeger, Jimmy Rogers, Chet Atkins, and the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, and additional kudos to Michael from Kevin for his input), the two siblings share a singular body of work that’s found them spending more than 20 years of working the road and paying their dues, resulting in seven albums — Forosoco (1997), Getting There (1999), Can’t Complain (2001), Live: The No Food Jokes Tour (2003), White Knuckles (2005), New Year’s Day (2009), Philadelphia Road (2011) and 36 Cents (2014) — spanning rock, soul, folk and Americana. Never content to be typecast, they’re fiercely devoted themselves to the cause of making music, undeterred by fame, fortune or the pitfalls that frequently obstruct the path to success.
Now, following on the heels of last year’s “Driver,” a resilient tale of lost youth imbued with tender memories, the Bacon Brothers’ new single “Broken Glass” also echoes that personal resolve. Written by Kevin and recorded at Lehman College studio where Michael teaches, the song was co-produced by both Bacon brothers. “It’s a very personal song,” Kevin says of its reflective musings. “I think that the songs are strong when they are personal. It took a long time. Some come easy, some not. But I’m proud of it and very happy with what Mike and the guys brought to the mix.” That song will be followed by Michael’s composition “Two Rivers,” a tender reflective ballad recorded during the Lehman sessions.
It’s not that either brother lacks the means to steal the spotlight. Kevin Bacon is an award-winning actor with 80 films and dozens of television and stage credits to his name, resulting in numerous Emmy and Screen Actor’s Guild nominations cited in his resume. Older brother Michael initially began making music in their native Philadelphia before moving to Nashville where his songwriting career blossomed by leaps and bounds. An Emmy-winning composer, he most recently scored the documentary “That Way Madness Lies” currently on the festival circuit. Other recent works include the audiobook: “You Don’t Look Your Age…And Other Fairytales” and the HBO documentary “Underfire: The Untold Story of Private First Class Tony Vaccaro.”
Still, while it’s clear that Michael and Kevin don’t view the band as simply a sideline, their commitment is clear. Indeed, the high points have been many. Kevin points to an opening slot for The Band at Carnegie Hall, surveying the Texas landscape in the midst of a lightning storm, rocking the Stone Pony on the Jersey Shore and Cains Ballroom in Tulsa. For Michael, it’s been all about touring in Germany and Japan, and the fascination he feels performing for overseas audiences.
So while casual observers may be awed by their Hollywood credentials, critics have been quick to note that the brothers -Michael on vocals, guitar and cello and Kevin on vocals, guitar and percussion — along with the band that’s been with them since the beginning — Paul Guzzone (bass, backing vocals), Joe Mennonna (keyboards, accordion), Ira Siegel (lead guitar, mandolin and backing vocals) and Frank Vilardi (drums) — eschew any hint of glitz and glamour in favor of an ethic gleaned from the hard lessons that come as a result of determination and drive.