Bearing the name of a particular slice of pig flesh was not always easy for Bacon Brothers band co-founder Michael.
“When I was growing up,” said Michael during a recent conference call that included his movie star sibling, close friend and bandmate Kevin, “I pretty much thought I was cursed for life. Now everybody loves bacon. And Kevin sort of led the way. He really just sort of accepted it. And I just felt so bad about it. And now I feel great about it.”
With that stigma now deeply buried in Michael’s past, the Bacon Brothers, which rather unofficially formed as a band in 1995, appeared at a 2013 BaconFest in Coconut Creek, Fla., without a hint of discomfort. And Michael even joined Kevin for a hilarious “Wake Up to Eggs With a Side of Bacon Brothers” commercial (and its making) that is streaming on the web.
The Bacon Brothers, who appear at the Crest Theatre on Sunday, June 12, perform mostly original material that is all over the musical map.
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“These guys have an interesting sound,” said Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates fame when the Brothers appeared on an early web-based edition of “Daryl’s House,” his live-performance series. “Remind me a lot of early Hall & Oates. So it’s the devil I know.” But there’s more to the Brothers’ sound than just H&O’s blue-eyed soul and pop.
“We always go back to the fact that when we first put the band together that was the question of course that everybody wants to know,” said Kevin. “What kind of stuff do you do? So we were sitting around going, well you know it’s kind of folk-rock, but it’s got some soul and country. So we decided to call it Forosoco (the title of their 1997 debut album). That stands for folk rock soul country. We’re still going with that.”
Philadelphia, home to Philly soul, the original “American Bandstand” and an amazing jazz heritage, was also home for Michael, Kevin and their four sisters. Their father was a prominent city planner and architect. Their mother was a schoolteacher and social activist. Their upbringing was one of nurtured creativity and a continuous flow of music, dance and other arts and culture classes.
By 1995, the brothers had teamed as singer-songwriters.
Michael, nine years older than Kevin and now 66, owned his first cello at age 8 and later added guitar and keyboards to his sonic arsenal. He progressed from high school jug band member to gigging musician to Nashville songwriter to award-winning New York City-based composer for film and television. He also teaches at Lehman College in the Bronx.
Kevin, the youngest of the six siblings, began writing songs at about age 10, learned his first song, “Hey Jude,” on a guitar given to him by Michael, and occasionally joined his brother’s projects on percussion. He is immortalized in the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon parlor game. As a prolific, respected film and TV actor, he takes any backlash to his shift from acting to music in stride. “I guess that if you hang in there long enough, there will be another movie star that decides to put a band together, and it’ll take the pressure off you.”
By 1995, the brothers had teamed as singer-songwriters and recorded a demo in hopes that established artists would cover their tunes. That scenario changed when a friend persuaded them to perform the songs live at a Philadelphia venue as the Bacon Brothers. The siblings were asked to perform several follow-up shows and since have toured and released eight albums while maintaining their “day jobs” and family lives.
The band is a multi-instrumental swap fest with Michael on vocals, guitar and cello; Kevin on vocals, guitar, harmonica and percussion; original bassist Paul Guzzone also on backing vocals; Joe Mennonna on keyboards, accordion and saxophone; Ira Siegel on lead guitar, mandolin and backing vocals; and Frank Vilardi on drums and cajon.
“Hopefully when people come,” said Michael, “they feel like they may get to know something about the two of us and the band, about who we are, what is the same about us, what is different, because most of our writing is based on personal experiences.”
“You would have to know going in that we are not a cover band,” said Kevin. “It’s not an ’80s dance party or whatever. We have a good time, and we take it really seriously and try to put on the best show possible while playing our stuff.
“One of the things I really like,” said Michael, “is a lot of bands can play rock ’n’ roll but to be able to break down and play acoustically, there aren’t that many groups that can do that effectively. And I like that we can put our foot in both of those worlds.”
The Bacon Brothers
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 12
Where: Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., Sacramento
Information: www.crestsacramento.com; 916-476-3356