Brotherhood is not about being the same. It’s about uniting to create an entity stronger than one individual, and in the best cases, complementing each other to form a bond that’s stronger than mere friendship.
Take Kevin and Michael Bacon. The brothers share the same surname, but their respective personas have not run parallel. One is a renowned actor who has appeared in more than 80 films. The other is an award-winning composer and songwriter whose work has echoed through documentaries and Nashville recording studios.
Each has been tremendously successful solo. But together—whether growing up in their cramped Philadelphia townhouse, or now as their band, The Bacon Brothers—the two have formed a different creation, still going strong since its beginnings.
“It’s almost been an extension of what we did as kids in Philly,” said Michael Bacon of the brotherly act, set to perform at 8 p.m. July 27 in the Bear's Den Showroom at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino in Niagara Falls. “Creating things, whether playing music or acting or singing and dancing, that was our life. It’s what our parents wanted us to experience.”
And they both have, with Kevin in career-defining roles in “Footloose” and the critically acclaimed “Mystic River,” and older brother Michael notching an Emmy for his original score on 2009 PBS documentary, “The Kennedys.” But the impact of those childhood days of creating together never dissipated.
Early on, they wrote songs together, and even tried to incorporate some of their work into Kevin’s movie career—but things went nowhere. Finally, a Philly music friend heard their demos and suggested the pair perform at his rock club as the self-explanatory Bacon Brothers. After the one-off gig went better than expected, they decided to bring their act to willing locales up and down the east coast. Then came a record deal, a bigger and more polished band, and more prominent gigs.
Eight albums and nearly three decades later, the siblings are still going strong.
“At this point, you hope you’re getting better, as the alternative is that you’re getting worse, “ said Kevin, reached by phone while producing a film in the U.K. “I think we’re better writers and singers, and from my perspective, this has all been a learning curve. I’ve spent a lot of my life on stage, but when we first started playing, I’d never stepped on stage with a guitar to say, ‘Hey, I’d like you listen to this little song I wrote.’ ”
Now back with their newest album—the eponymously named, “The Bacon Brothers”—the guitar-strumming duo has scaled its curve to deliver musicianship and lyrics proficient in their construction, and relatable in their direction. Songs like “I Feel You” rides an acoustic foundation along a landscape left behind; and “Tom Petty T-Shirt” references an understated approach to consolation. According to Kevin, both are indicative of the brothers’ growth as a band.
“Sometimes, maturity brings you back to a more simple approach, whether that’s in terms of chord progressions or production or lyrics,” said Kevin. “The new material has this type of simplicity to it, and I think it works really well.”
It’s evocative of a style cultivated over years of familial collaboration. But overall, it’s the result of two talented brothers still finding their way—and continuing to enjoy the ride.
“Our continuation is really a function of the songwriting. If weren’t continuing to write our own songs, I don’t think we’d still be doing this. It’s not really interesting to me to be a cover band or play the same stuff for [this long]," Kevin said.
“We’ve been doing this for 25 years, and we’ve survived,” said Michael. “There’s no rules, we don’t know what we’re doing, and we’re trying to get as much out of it in as small amount of time as we can—but I can’t see how any of that is going to change any time soon.”