The Bacon Brothers
Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center – Sugar Loaf, NY – 6/2/2023
Review & Photos – Rebecca Wolf
On a Friday night, after a long week it can often be challenging to shake off the stresses of work and life and unwind. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “I just want to go home and crash,” especially for many of us beyond a “certain age.” However, there some are entertainment experiences that can draw you out of that mindset, put a smile on your face and add levity to your soul. A concert by The Bacon Brothers is surely one of those uplifting experiences. Luckily for those in the area of Sugar Loaf, NY on Friday June 2nd, The Bacon Brothers were performing at The Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center. SLPAC is a beautiful venue with soaring ceilings, wooden rafters, brick walls, and glowing lanterns. With its warm ski lodge feeling, and comfortable theater seating, it’s the perfect place to settle in and enjoy a night of great music.
There may be some who don’t know who The Bacon Brothers are, who don’t immediately connect “Bacon” as a last name or don’t know who the name might refer to, particularly some “younger” individuals. However, there’s a broad section of the population who immediately know a “brother” with the name Bacon is none other than Hollywood movie and TV actor Kevin Bacon. Bacon made his movie debut in 1978 and has continued to have roles in critically acclaimed films and television shows for more than 40 years. However, as diverse as Bacon’s acting roles have been, he artistically diversified himself further in 1995 when The Bacon Brothers was formed with older brother Michael, who’s an accomplished movie and television composer, in addition to be a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter.
While the brothers began playing music together during their youth, it was never their intention to form a touring band. A chance one night performance led to the birth of The Bacon Brothers, whose music mixes the sounds of folk, rock, soul and country, what they call “Forosco,” the name of their debut album. Since then the band has released eight studio LPs, a “Live” LP, a “Best Of” LP, and in 2022 released their EP Erato. The Bacon Brothers’ both sing lead vocals and play guitar, while Michael additionally plays cello and autoharp and Kevin plays percussion and harmonica. Performing with the band since 1995 is Paul Guzzone on bass, electric guitar and background vocals and Frank Vilardi on drums, and since 2018, Tim Quick on lead guitar, mandolin and background vocals.
From the moment the band hit the stage the entertainer in Kevin was evident, as he instantly grabbing the audience’s attention with his broad smile, a twinkle in his eyes, and his rhythmic moves to his bongo beats. Any workweek stresses were quickly whisked away with the rock-in-your-seat, effervescent, island vibes of opening number “Let Me Happen to You Girl,” from 2022’s Erato, followed by the energetic, jivey “Play!” from 2020’s The Way We Love. Whether playing the bongo with his hands leaping in the air or jamming on guitar alongside Guzzone, there was no doubt that Kevin was having a blast sharing his music with the enthusiastic crowd. “Anyone here under 50?” Kevin enthusiastically queried the crowd with a wide cheeky smile? When cheers rang out in the crowd Bacon laughingly responded, “That never happens at a Bacon Brothers concert!!” Michael, the more serious of the two, displayed more subtle enthusiasm but fabulous instrumental skills, as he deftly moved from guitar, to cello, to autoharp, to ukulele throughout the set.
“Don’t Lose My Boy,” from 2011’s Philadelphia Road – The Best Of and “Tom Petty T-Shirt” from 2018’s self-titled album both showcased a softer, more sentimental side of The Bacon Brothers’ sound, while their new song, “Old Bronco” and “Picker,” from The Way We Love, Kevin’s tribute to Michael (who in his youth loved to “pick” at pawn shops), both displayed an upbeat country rock vibe. At moments throughout the set the brothers shared funny background stories about their songwriting, with their humbleness evident in their self-deprecating humor. “British Invasion is about a concert I went to alone. I’d never had a date before,” exclaimed Michael. “It’s a boring story but I’ll tell you it anyway. So, there was a beautiful girl there….and that was it!” he laughed as the crowd joined in and the band played the bouncy, cheerful number. “My brother and I tried so many times to get our songs into my movies but we never did!” Kevin laughed, speaking about their song “Beneath Perfection,” with Guzzone showcasing incredibly beautiful vocals.
Additional songs in the set included “She-Zee-Zee (Easy On My Eyes),” “36 Cents,” “Dark Chocolate Eyes,” and “Pitch Perfect,” a number which had all four guitar players on ukulele. “We’re going to play a new song for you this evening called “Hands up,” shared Kevin. “There’s something in this song that has to have happened to all of you. So, when you hear it…hands up!” he encouraged the crowd. As Kevin sang he repeatedly raised his hands in the air and the audience obliged, raising their hands to confess their experiences. While the entire performance was full of energy and spirit, the joy and enthusiasm exploded throughout the theater for the evening’s final number, the iconic song that will forever represent Kevin Bacon…”Footloose.” The animation onstage was multiplied by 100 in the crowd as fans passionately sang, danced and threw their cares to the wind.
While at times it can be challenging after a long week to shake off work or life troubles, there are surely some experiences that can put a smile on your face and joy in your heart. Live music is one of those experiences. And, you can’t help but leave a performance of The Bacon Brothers without taking with you some of their positivity, energy and light.