Jeff Bridges & the Abiders

Jeff BridgesPhoto courtesy of Britt Festival

Jeff Bridges, the actor known for his roles in "The Fisher King," "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot," "The Big Lebowski," "True Grit" and many others, broke onto the country music scene with the 2009 movie "Crazy Heart." Bridges' portrayal of grizzled, former country music legend Bad Blake earned him his first Academy Award.

"I actually passed on the movie at first because it had no music in it," Bridges says in a news release. "But when I found out T-Bone was interested, I was like, 'Let's do this thing.' "

AT BRITT PAVILION

7:30 p.m. Friday, July 19 — Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Tickets $172 for premium blanket seating for four; $43 for reserved seating; $27 for lawn seating; and $17 for ages 12 and younger.

  • 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 21 — Amy Grant. Tickets $248 for premium blanket seating for four; $62 for reserved seating; $41 for lawn seating; and $29 for ages 12 and younger.
  • 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 24 — Jeff Bridges & the Abiders. Tickets $58 for reserved seating; $36 for lawn seating; and $26 for ages 12 and younger. u 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 25 — Billy Currington. Tickets $69 for standing room only; $39 for lawn seating; and $24 for ages 12 and younger.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.brittfest.org, at the box office, 216 W. Main St., Medford, or by calling 541-773-6077.

T-Bone Burnett collaborated on the music for the movie, winning Golden Globe, Academy and Grammy awards for the song "The Weary Kind," composed with Ryan Bingham. Burnett, Bridges and Robert Duvall produced the film.

Bridges' albums "Be Here Soon" and "Jeff Bridges" were released in 2010 and 2011, respectively, on the AFVM9 and Blue Note record label.

"This album ("Jeff Bridges") is a natural extension of the love of music I've had all my life," Bridges says. In fact, "natural" is as good a word to describe the feeling of Bridges' self-titled, major-label debut. Also produced by Burnett, the 10-song disc is soulful and heartfelt. It feels consistently comfortable and true.

Bridges and his band, the Abiders, will perform Wednesday, July 24, at the Britt Pavilion, 350 First St., Jacksonville. Singer, songwriter — and Jeff Bridges' daughter — Jessie Bridges will open the show at 7:30 p.m. Guitar and percussion duo Charles Guy and Michael Whipple will perform at 6 p.m. on the Table Rock City Stage. Tickets cost $58 for reserved seating; $36 for lawn seating; and $26 for ages 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased online at www.brittfest.org, at the box office, 216 W. Main St., Medford, or by calling 541-773-6077.

Many echoes of "Crazy Heart" can be found on "Jeff Bridges." Along with Burnett, songwriters Stephen Bruton, John Goodwin and Greg Brown contributed to both projects, and Bingham, who shares the awards for "The Weary Kind," adds vocals to the self-titled album's opening track, "What a Little Bit of Love Can Do."

"Slow Boat," co-written by Bridges and Burnett, is the title of a Bad Blake song mentioned in Thomas Cobb's original novel "Crazy Heart."

For "Jeff Bridges," Burnett assembled his usual team of ace musicians, including drummer Jay Bellerose, bassist Dennis Crouch, keyboardist Keefus Ciancia, Russ Paul on pedal steel and guitarist Jackson Smith. Marc Ribot adds guitar on some tracks, and vocalists Rosanne Cash, Sam Phillips and Benji Hughes make appearances. Together, they cut 16 tracks in two weeks.

Bridges finds strong connections between his passions for acting and music.

"There are more similarities than differences," he says. "They're both very collaborative, you're working with different artists, but there are also solo aspects in the writing and the practicing. You prepare, and then you let go and give it up."

When Bridges found success in films at a young age, he took the path of least resistance. As he progressed as an actor, he found that music is a key element to various projects.

"Different assignments would come up and turn me on to different types of music," he says. " 'The Fabulous Baker Boys' was all about jazz, learning about this Bill Evans style of piano playing.

"So many actors also play music on movie sets. A great example is "Heaven's Gate." Kris Kristofferson brought many of his musician friends, like Ronnie Hawkins, Stephen Bruton and T-Bone, and our free time was all spent making music."

Released in 1980, "Heaven's Gate" marks the beginning of a long relationship between Bridges and Burnett. Burnett selected the songs for the soundtrack for "The Big Lebowski."



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