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Interview:
There's nothing dumb, or dumber, about Jeff Daniels' music mission
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Jeff Daniels is headed for a busy fall with the return of "The Newsroom" for its final season on HBO in November and the return of Harry Dunne in the long-awaited "Dumb and Dumber To" on Nov. 14. So making a little music during the summer seemed like just the right thing to do.

The Chelsea resident is on the road again, this time with his son Ben Daniels' band. It's yet another wrinkle for Daniels, who usually plays as a solo act or in a duo, but he's happy to try on a different format and push himself in different directions.

"I don't have a show where I go out with a band," says Daniels, 59, "and Ben's band has gotten to a point where they've ben at it seven, eight years and have got a lot of miles under them. They're tight. They can do a three and a half hour set and not look up.

"So I said, 'Let's marry these two things.' I sent them demos of some (new) songs and said, 'I'm interested in what you guys want to do wit it, and I'll just front it.' (Playwright) Arthur Miller once said that, 'I look forward to seeing what my work inspires in others.' When the creative process works, it's not a dictatorship; certainly there's a blueprint if I write something, but I really want to see what these guys do with it. It should make for a very entertaining show."

Daniels -- who won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 2013 for "The Newsroom" and has been nominated again this year -- has released five albums to date and is planning his sixth for a fall release to coincide with the premieres of his latest acting gigs. Juggling so many creative balls may seem daunting, but Daniels maintains that one tends to spur the other.

"It's a gear shift," Daniels acknowledges. "It's happened a lot with certain movies, or 'The Newsroom;' when you're in a role that demands a lot of your creativity, it spawns the music. It inspires the music. I always find myself, even in the midst of 'The Newsroom,' having to pick up the guitar and the music gets activated.

"You can't trick that thing into happening; you have to just wait for it, and when it does you just need to write it. It always seems to be that the more inspired I am and challenged I am as an actor makes for fertile ground for the music, and that's the case here."

Jeff Daniels and the Ben Daniels Band

7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, and 8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 18

The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor

Sunday's show is sold out; Monday tickets are $45.

Call 734-761-1800 or visit www.theark.org

Web Site: www.theark.org

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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