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From the big screen to concert stage: Billy Bob Thornton rocks out

Billy Bob Thornton's acting career has taken him from television appearances on "Matlock" to becoming household name among movie fans. But through it all, the actor's been connected to music, including the last decade spent with his touring trio, the Boxmasters. The band's current tour rolls in town for a gig at 8 p.m. July 31 in Buffalo Iron Works.

Here's some background and a preview of what's in store.

On screen: After a series of small roles, Thornton broke onto the celluloid scene with the starring role and Oscar-winning screenplay for 1996’s “Sling Blade.” Since then, he’s churned out a prolific acting career, playing everything from Santa Claus (“Bad Santa”) to a philandering U.S. president (“Love, Actually”).

In concert: Before he was starring in films—or wearing ex-wife Angelina Jolie’s blood around his neck in a vial—he was firmly entrenched in music, as a devoted fan, one-time roadie and performing musician, just hoping to catch a big-time break.

Four solo albums and near 10 years with his Beatles-influenced Boxmasters, the star of Amazon’s “Goliath” is living the rock ’n’ roll fantasy—albeit with a stable fallback career.

Billy Bob Thornton brings his band the Boxmasters to Buffalo Iron Works. (Getty Images)

If it walks like a rock star and talks like a …: For anyone with doubts about whether the multifaceted film star plays it safe with his side gig, see his infamous CBC Radio One appearance from 2009. On tour opening for Willie Nelson, the frontman famously referred to Canadian live music audiences as “mashed potatoes with no gravy” in a contentious interview with radio host Jian Ghomeshi.

Needless to say, his following appearance at Toronto’s Massey Hall did not go well. Thankfully, the award-winning actor has since made amends with Canadian audiences, and the event now stands as a footnote of the life and times of a typical rocker, stirring controversy on the road.

What to expect from Boxmaster Thornton: Together with the impressively seasoned Teddy Andreadis (keys) and Grammy Award-winning sound engineer J.D. Andrew (bass, guitar), Thornton (drums vocals) leads a Boxmasters crew known for its cover prowess, British Invasion-influenced originals, and dabbling in slide guitar-geared Americana.

Now touring off its eighth studio album, “Speck” - produced by engineer Geoff Emerick, whose resume includes work on Fab Four revelations “Revolver” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” - the band should provide comfort for those familiar with its sound.

For the uninitiated, Thornton and Co. will introduce its accessible tunes for those eager to dance with a certified Hollywood hybrid. The tour just started, but so far sets have included tunes like the surfer rock of "Summertime in L.A.," "Just Me Shaking" and "Watchin' the Radio."

Tickets: $35. More information available at

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