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Interview:
Jeff Daniels at the Macomb Center, 5 Things To Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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The world knows Jeff Daniels, of course, for “The Newsroom,” “Dumb And Dumber,” “Pleasantville,” “The Purple Rose Of Cairo,” et al. But his music is more than holding its own alongside his onscreen adventures.

The 62-year-old Chelsea, Mich., resident has released eight albums so far as well as collaboration with the Verve Pipe’s Brian Vander Ark, and he tours regularly with his son Ben. and his band (Daniels’ other son, Lucas, is their tour manager). He’s still doing plenty of acting -- the film “The Catcher Was A Spy” and the upcoming Netflix western “Godless,” debuting Nov. 22 -- but Daniels has made music a passion that’s become a another creative vocation...

• Daniels says that his current presentation, an acoustic concert with the Ben Daniels Band, is his most rewarding live show yet. “I can always go solo, which is fun and easy to do,” Daniels says by phone. It’s far more storytelling and all that. But this one elevates it to something that’s a lot more about the musicianship and the songwriting. I’ve worked really hard over the years on the songwriting as well as getting the guitar up, and I make ‘em listen.”

• Daniels is even eyeballing a point in the not too distant future when the music becomes his priority. “In about two years I think I’ll do music a lot more than the acting because I love it so much,” he says. “I look forward to the day where I can do it more. The trick is booking. You have to make a decision on (playing in) August in January, or at least six months out, and the acting side of my life doesn’t work that way. I could get a phone call today saying there’s a great job for the whole summer, and what happens if I’ve booked shows already. So I’ve got to get to a point where I can call my agent and go ‘I’m unavailable on these six weeks,’ and I’m almost where I can dictate that.”

• That doesn’t mean he’s planning on leaving acting, mind you. “I’m still doing it,” Daniels says. “I love the acting -- if I’m challenged. The Newsroom’ fell out of the sky for an actor in his 50s. That does not happen. But the landscape has changed so much with Netflix, Hulu...For guys like me to do shows with writers who can write without network interference, it’s a whole new frontier. I guess that’s what I’m looking for the rest of my creative life is a challenge, as long as I’m challenged -- which I am every time I walk out with a guitar and an audience I’ve got to win over. That’s what’s of interest to me.”

• The Netflix series “Godless,” Daniels says, is “the western that every actor wants to do, the bucket list. I have such great respect for anyone who’s ever done a western. It ain’t easy. First of all you’re riding an 800-pound infant who after three takes has his own idea of what we’re gonna do, so there’s the whole horse thing. But the writing was so good. It’s a limited series, seven episodes, so it’s like a seven-hour movie. There’s so many colors and details you get to play over that period of time. It’s binge-watching for people who don’t read anymore.”

• Daniels’ next theatrical endeavor is “Flint,” about the city’s water crisis, which premieres January 18 at this Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea. “I don’t want this to be about the celebrity talking about the water crisis,” Daniels explains. “That’s Twitter feed. I’m not interested in that. I want the play to speak for itself. It’s set in September of 2014, six weeks before the state went public about, ‘Hang on, there might be a problem with your yellow-born water...’ It doesn’t go after who did what, who knew what, ‘cause we don’t know that. It’s about four forgotten people in Flint who have been left behind, not only by GM but in the handling of this water crisis.”



If You Go:

• Jeff Daniels with the Ben Daniels Band

• 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10.

• The Macomb Center, 44575 Garfield Road, Clinton Township.

• Tickets are $43-$58.

• Call 586-286-2222 or visit macombcenter.com.



Web Site: www.macombcenter.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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