If you didn't know actor Jeff Daniels -- the star of movies as disparate (and excellent) as The Squid and the Whale, Gettysburg, and Dumb & Dumber -- was also a songwriter and musician, you can be forgiven. Hardly anybody knew.
At the behest of a friend, Daniels began performing his songs a few years ago and recorded an album, Live and Unplugged. The proceeds of the album's sales benefit the Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea, Michigan, which the actor founded. He serves as executive director.
In songs such as "You Can Drink an Ugly Girl Pretty," Daniels' voice has a mild, inoffensive twang that mimics Lyle Lovett a little, and in the in-love-after-the-first-date song "Kathy," Daniels' singing takes a more earnest tone, a la Jackson Browne.
But what makes Daniels more interesting than the typical actor cum musician is that his songs are not affectations at all. He's been writing them for over 30 years, and they serve as a diary, offering snapshot glimpses into his life's narrative. "Kathy" was written on August 28th, 1978, after his first date with the woman who would eventually become his wife. Daniels' songwriting dips into his acting career too -- in songs such as "Dirty Harry Blues," about getting to be killed onscreen by Clint Eastwood -- and his personal passions -- such as "The Lifelong Tiger Fan Blues," about the ups and downs of being one of the Detroit Tiger faithful.
Jeff Daniels will be at the Bartlett Performing Arts and Conference Center on Saturday, August 26th, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call the box office at 385-6440 for more info.