After three weeks of bar room performances near his home outside Santa Barbara, Jeff Bridges brought his band the Abiders to Los Angeles to preview songs from his upcoming album and reprise a few favorites from his Oscar-winning film “Crazy Heart.”
Bridges and his four-piece band performed for 70 minutes at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, Calif, Tuesday night, entertaining a crowd that included Jackson Browne, his producer T Bone Burnett, brother Beau Bridges, actors Andy Garcia, Ryan Reynolds, who will appear with Bridges in “RIPD,” and Olivia Wilde, Bridges’ co-star in “Tron: Legacy.” Quincy Jones, who recorded Bridges and put his music in the film “John and Mary” when the actor was just 17, introduced Bridges.
As the evening – sponsored by Blue Note, Gretsch guitars and the high-end speaker company B&W – progressed, Bridges filled gaps between songs with stories of high school jam sessions, playing a hootenanny at the Troubadour as a teenager and shout-outs to long-time friends such as John Goodwin, author of several songs on Bridges’ self-titled album that Blue Note will release Aug. 12.
Bridges plays acoustic and electric guitar with a band of lead guitar, stand-up bass, drums and either accordion or pedal steel. In line with the music of “Crazy Heart,” much of which was written by the late Texas troubadour Stephen Bruton, music in the Bridges oeuvre teeters between honky tonk weepers (“Everything But Love,” “Nothing Yet”), acoustic ballads (“The Quest”), a Buddy Holly-ish rocker (“Slow Boat”) and a touch of Tex-Mex rock ‘n’ roll (“I Don’t Know”). Bridges split the set evenly between the “Crazy Heart” soundtrack and the new album with a cover of Bob Dylan‘s “The Man in Me,” a key song in “The Big Lebowski,” as the final encore.
The album features songs penned by Bridges, Greg Brown and Bridges’ longtime friend Goodwin, plus songs that did not make the cut in “Crazy Heart,” among them Bruton’s “Nothing Yet.” Bridges is a charming performer, his exuberance making every note ring a little brighter than in your usual country-rock performance. His Bad Blake character from “Crazy Heart” loomed over the show in stories and one more subtle way: A strap on an electric guitar bore not Bridges name, but the all-caps initials BAD.
Here is Jeff Bridges’ Troubadour set list:
“Hold on You”
“I Don’t Know”
“Everything But Love”
“Missed the Point”
“Fallin’ & Flyin'”
“The Weary Kind”
“Man in Me”