Jeff Bridges on Touring, Austin City Limits, and His 'Pretty Eclectic Show'

Jeff Bridges
Danny Clinch

Jeff Bridges photographed by Danny Clinch.

Jeff Bridges is going on the road. The actor, famous for roles in films such as "Crazy Heart," "The Big Lebowski," and "True Grit," is taking his music to fans in the midwest and the east coast this summer, along with his band, The Abiders. The tour, which started on last week in Las Vegas, will see stops in Nashville, New York, and Boston – among other cities. A special date on the list comes this Thursday, as Bridges will be co-hosting a benefit concert in Austin along with Sheryl Crow that will honor the 40th anniversary of "Austin City Limits." The Oscar winner says he is looking forward to that star-studded date. "I'll be playing with my buddy T-Bone Burnett, Kris Kristofferson, and my old high school friend Bonnie Raitt. I'm looking forward to all that, then we will take a little time off, and I will hit the east coast. My daughter, Jessie, will be opening for us at several of the shows. I’m very excited about that. She’s a wonderful musician and a great songwriter, so it should be fun.”

Burnett produced Bridges’ 2011 self-titled disc, but the relationship between the two goes back a lot further than that. “We met on "Heaven’s Gate," back in 1980," Bridges recalls. “That’s where I met Kris Kristofferson and Stephen Bruton, as well. We’ll be celebrating Stephen in Austin, because ‘Crazy Heart’ was dedicated to him. He died shortly after the movie was completed. T-Bone and he were best friends, and so was he and Kris. He was on all of his albums – as well as Bonnie Raitt’s.”

Jeff Bridges Performs at Annual Lebowski Fest in Los Angeles

Working with Burnett is something that Bridges says he won’t forget anytime soon. "He's such a master. It’s like the movies in that the first thing you consider is the casting. That goes for the writing, the directing and all of that – not just the actors, but the technicians and everything. The same goes for making a record, and T-Bone is a master of that. He’s been at it for so long, and he’s got quite the lineup of great musicians that he’s worked with. So, you get those guys into the room, and then he creates this very relaxed kind of atmosphere. Just like with the movies, when people are relaxed, that tends to bring forth their best work. He’s very precise and amazing, and he has his ears and his tastes that he brings to life."

Bridges – who will be releasing a live disc later this summer – has all of the dates on the late summer leg of his tour circled – including an August 27 stop at the famed Ryman Auditorium. “That is going to be a peak experience,” he says. “Nashville is the hometown of my good friend John Goodwin. We go back to the fourth grade together. I play a lot of his music in my shows. He had the opening song in ‘Crazy Heart,’ which he wrote with T-Bone. So, that makes the visit very special.”

Bridges says that he has been able to connect with the majority of the fans who come out to see him in concert. "We give them some music from 'Crazy Heart,' but we give them some other stuff too. It’s a pretty eclectic show. There’s some country, some rock, and the musicians are really wonderful. My music director, Chris Pelonis, assembled all of these guys in Santa Barbara. We have a really good time, so that’s very contagious for the audience."

And, having his daughter on the bill? Bridges tells Billboard that he can’t begin to describe his pride. "That’s tops of the while thing. She’s such a terrific writer ad beautiful voice. I just love having her on stage."

Another reason he is looking forward to the tour is that it gives him a chance to work with one of his favorite organizations. "I'm the national spokesperson for this organization called No Kid Hungry – Share Our Strength. I will talk to governors and people in the audience about summer meals for kids who are low-income. So many of them depend on school for their meals, and when school is out, so are the meals. So. I’m trying to let people know that there are meal sites all the country. A lot of people don’t know that 21 million kids are eligible for these meals, but only three million are participating. We’re doing our best to spread the word and let the governors, school teachers, and parents know about it."

Bridges will be hitting the big screen in August in "The Giver." based on the sci-fi novel by Lois Lowry.



June 26                    ACL 40th Anniversary @ Moody Theater             Austin, TX
August 22                 Horseshoe Casino                                          Hammond, IN
August 23                 The Pabst Theater                                         Milwaukee WI
August 24                 Pantages Theater                                       Minneapolis, MN
August 27                 Ryman Auditorium                                         Nashville, TN
August 29                 The Paramount                                            Huntington, NY
August 30                 The Wellmont Theater                                     Montclair, NJ
August 31                 The Birchmere                                               Alexandria, VA
September 2             City Winery                                                   New York, NY
September 3             The Wilbur Theatre                                          Boston, MA
September 5             Mohegan Sun Casino                                    Uncasville, CT
September 6             Ridgefield Playhouse                                      Ridgefield, CT

Editor's note: Originally this article stated that three billion children were participating. The correct number is three million.