Jeff Bridges revives music career with new album

LOS ANGELES Wed Jun 29, 2011 8:41am EDT

1 of 6. Actor Jeff Bridges performs during his sound check ahead of his concert at Troubadour club in West Hollywood, California, June 28, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Add Jeff Bridges to the long list of Hollywood actors who fancy themselves rock stars.

He convincingly played a washed-up country singer in "Crazy Heart," winning an Oscar last year. In real life, Bridges is just as credible promoting his first album for a major label.

He took the stage at the Troubadour nightclub in Los Angeles on Tuesday to perform an hourlong set of folk-oriented material drawn mostly from his self-titled release, due out August 16 through Blue Note Records.

"This is surreal, man," he said. "This is very rewind."

Indeed, the 61-year-old actor is no newbie on the music scene, and the album is no vanity project. He recalled that the last time he played the hallowed venue was during a "hootenanny" in his early teens.

He went on to collaborate with film composer Quincy Jones, who introduced him at Tuesday's industry showcase and described the young Bridges as "stone Haight-Ashbury," a reference to the then-prevailing hippie scene.

While Hollywood beckoned in the form of a breakthrough role in the 1971 film "The Last Picture Show," Bridges found an outlet for his musical talents in such films as 1989's "The Fabulous Baker Boys." He also recorded an album, "Be Here Soon," for an independent label in 2001.

His turn in "Crazy Heart" as whiskey-swilling Bad Blake brought him a whole new level of musical recognition. The producer of that film's soundtrack, his long-time friend T-Bone Burnett, also produced the new album. Bridges wrote two of the album's 10 tracks himself.

He appeared to be having fun on stage, at one point treating the crowd to a funny anecdote about filming "Heaven's Gate" as he tried to tune his guitar before giving up and handing it to his roadie.

Backed by a four-man band, and alternating between an acoustic and electric guitar, Bridges played a mix of songs from the new album and from the "Crazy Heart" soundtrack. Some were funereal, like the new "Slow Boat." Others were more rockabilly like the "Crazy Heart" tune "Somebody Else."

"I wish my mom and dad could be here tonight," he said, referring to late acting couple Dorothy and Lloyd Bridges. "They would have dug this a lot."

But he had plenty of support from his family, including his wife of 34 years Sue, to whom he dedicated a cover of Bob Dylan's love song "The Man in Me," and elder brother Beau. Hollywood stars in the crowd included Pierce Brosnan, Ryan Reynolds and Olivia Wilde.

(Reporting by Dean Goodman, editing by Jackie Frank)

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