- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Right about the time the pre-IMDB “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game was making the rounds, Mr. Bacon and older brother Michael, a career guitarist and songwriter, decided to take their lifelong love of American music on the road. Two decades later, The Bacon Brothers are going strong, with a weekend-long residency at The Birchmere bowing on Friday.

“It’s just one of those rooms that’s set up for listening to music,” Kevin Bacon, 58, and a veteran of over 75 films, told The Washington Times of his family’s love for the Alexandria, Virginia, performance space. “You kind of start with does it sound good on stage? Does it sound good in the house? When you add all those things up, [The Birchmere] is just a great place to play.”

Like his brother, Michael Bacon, 66, has a connection to the film world, having composed scores for numerous films and television shows. When he and Kevin started the band in 1995, they traveled to gigs in Michael’s station wagon as a quartet with two backup instrumentalists. Now they travel in comfort, with four musicians behind them on stage at every port of call.

“We were just playing little tiny places. We never really intended to go beyond that, but it just started rolling on its own, and we followed where it went,” Michael said.

The brothers from Philadelphia have released seven albums to date. Their latest, “36 Cents,” was released in 2014. They cite such influences as the writings of singer-songwriters like James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot, as well as a tremendous fondness for The Band.

“We opened for them at Carnegie Hall, and it was quite a thrill to get to know them,” Michael said of Bob Dylan’s former coterie of backup players.

Not long into their being a band, Kevin and Michael appeared on the “Scott & Todd Morning Show” on WPLJ in New York, where they were challenged by the DJs to participate in an ongoing bit called “The 15-minute Love Song,” in which co-host Todd Pettengill composed a song based on a caller’s tale of how he or she met their significant other. The hosts lampooned the brothers after they were gone from the studio composing for 15, then 20, then nearly 30 minutes.

“We’re going to have to change the name of the bit,” Mr. Pettengill said as the minutes ticked by.

“I thought it was really fun because it’s not a very easy thing to do,” Michael says now of the experience. “I wrote [the song] and found it kind of decent. It was fun.

Due to his extensive film career, Kevin often fields fan requests at shows to play songs associated with his movies, such as the theme song to “Footloose.” But it’s not at all in the cards, he says.

“People will want us to sing ‘Footloose’ as if I wrote it,” he said of the Kenny Loggins ‘80s anthem. “My joke is I say, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna do that, and we’re also going to do the theme song from every film I’ve ever been in. We’ll be playing ‘The River Wild’ up next, and then we’ll be doing a number called ‘A Few Good Men.’”

While in the nation’s capital, Kevin and his brother will make several surprise area appearances as part of Kevin’s charity — inevitably named SixDegrees.org.

“It’s rare that we’re in a place for several days like we’re going to be at The Birchmere,” Michael said. “So it’s an opportunity [to help] a nonprofit or a charity.”

With two decades to refine their sound and their act, the brothers maintain that they are more sure of their musical footing than ever.

“Our show is very, very, very different” since the band first came on the scene, Michael said. “It’s hopefully much more entertaining and more professional.

Kevin and I put in a lot of time, sweat and money into making the shows as good as we can. I think we feel pretty good about the state of the live show now.”

The Bacon Brothers play Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at 8:30 at The Birchmere, located at 3701 Mt Vernon Ave, Alexandria, Virginia, 22305. Tickets are $45 by going to Ticketmaster.com.

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