Photos by Ebet Roberts
The Bacon Brothers, Michael and kid brother Kevin, have been gigging together for nearly 30 years, but, whether because of competing interests or good old economic common sense, neither quit his day job in the music-composing and acting fields respectively. Still, they’ve managed to keep a band together for the better part of 20 years and don’t sound like amateurs: they sound like excellent club musicians not-quite-ready-for-Madison Square Garden. The perfect band, in fact, for an excellent club like City Winery
Mike is a composer, primarily for TV and film, but Kevin writes much of their material; most of their tunes are original and personal…but not too personal. One particularly effective song, “Boys in Bars,” showed a 1997 video on the Winery’s Medium-O-Tron: on screen, the youthful Brothers cavorted from bar to bar during their early gigging days in New York City, while, onstage, the live Bacon Brothers Band provided the audio for a witty and effective change of pace.
Starting out strong with a straight-ahead rocker, “Tell Me What I Have to Do,” Mike showed off his strong vocals, with Kevin on harmonica, tambourine, djembe and excellent, sometimes pleasantly dissonant harmony. Throughout the show, both men cycled through a variety of guitars, and Mike added excellent cello to a few tunes late in the evening, notably “493 Miles,” which Kevin introduced as an empty-nest song, saying he was delighted that his grown son had moved back home (I could not relate).
Standout tunes included “Grace,” the happy-go-lucky “Bus,” about having a tour bus (“It’s just you and me honey and the 12 of us/Yeah, I love that woman, [but] God knows…I love that bus”), and “You Live With the Lie” the last two from their 1997 album FOROSCO (FOlk, ROck, SOul, COuntry), indications that their music holds up. In another measure of the band’s musical legitimacy, their version of Delbert McClinton’s “Giving It Up for Your Love,” with Mike on acoustic guitar, Kevin on 12-string and Ira Siegel on electric, rocked the Winery sufficiently to endanger certain fragile vintages.
The Bacon Brothers are in it for the music and the fun, and unpretentiously bring their audience along with them. Throw in a good glass of wine, and you’ve got a perfect evening, IMO.