‘Leverage’ actor will show his tuneful side at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country

The seven most frightening words in the entertainment business?

An. Actor. Who. Thinks. He. Can. Sing.

For some reason, Hollywood long has been awash in actors and actresses who, fresh off the success of their latest sitcoms or movies or (God help us) reality shows, feel compelled to prove to us that, sure, they can act, but, man, you should hear them sing.

It seldom turns out well. Not for them. Not for us. Not for anybody.

So, let’s take care of this right out of the gate: Christian Kane isn’t one of those actors.

Sure, TV viewers may know Kane as Eliot, "the hitter," in the TNT caper series "Leverage" or remember him as evil lawyer (feel free to make your own "redundant" joke) Lindsey from the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" spinoff "Angel" or have watched him in such movies as "Summer Catch," "Life or Something Like It" and "Just Married."

But, when it comes to music, Kane isn’t some dilettante actor wannabe. He’s a serious singer/songwriter blessed with a husky, country-perfect voice that he employs in the service of what he describes as "outlaw rock," a genre that combines the raucous energy of rock ‘n’ roll with, well, the raucous energy of country.

Fact is, Kane originally had planned to pursue a career in music until that whole acting thing happened along. So when he kicks off a fall concert tour Friday with a show at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country, 9151 Las Vegas Blvd. South, fans will witness Kane reveling in his first, and still best, love.

Actually, if you’ve seen Kane act, you may already have heard him sing, too. He performed a song that he co-wrote on "Leverage." He sang mystical karaoke (it’s hard to explain) on an "Angel" episode. And, his songs were featured in both "Just Married" and "Life or Something Like it."

"A lot of people don’t know I’m singing my own songs," Kane notes during a recent phone interview. "We’ve been very fortunate at putting my music into my acting."

That’s only fair, seeing as how Kane’s acting and singing careers have been intertwined from the start: His first big acting gig was playing an aspiring singer on the series "Fame L.A."

"I have to say, I got my first big acting role because I was a singer," says Kane, the sort of self-effacing, witty and cordial guy you’d be happy to see sitting one bar stool over. "So I was a singer playing an actor playing a singer. Both of my careers started the same day."

Kane grew up in Oklahoma where, he says, "I listened to a lot of country as a kid, mostly because it ran through the house."

While his dad would play Crystal Gayle and Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, Kane rocked out to whatever he heard — from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Guns N’ Roses to Alice in Chains — on the radio.

In 1998, just as his acting career was taking off, Kane met guitarist and songwriter Steve Carlson. They teamed up and began playing acoustic gigs at Los Angeles’ Formosa Cafe. More gigs at other clubs followed until, Kane says, "somehow we had a full band and we were playing the Viper Room."

However, Kane notes that country music wasn’t the usual aural fare at that West Hollywood nightspot, so many audience members probably heard "country" in a way they hadn’t heard it before.

"That’s the biggest compliment we get, and we get it all the time: They say, ‘I’m not even a country fan, and I love this music,’ " Kane says.

In December, Kane released his first album, "The House Rules," which peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Heatseeker chart and No. 3 on iTunes’ country chart. Kane had a hand in writing all but three songs on the album, and the video for the title track, a honky-tonk raveup, was directed by "Leverage" cast mate Timothy Hutton.

The second single from the album, the power ballad "Let Me Go," was released in July. The video for the song was directed by Roman White, who also has directed videos for a roster of artists that includes Carrie Underwood, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift.

Meanwhile, TNT has picked up "Leverage" for a fifth season. "In this day and age in television that’s huge," Kane says. "It’s a huge compliment."

So, Kane continues to pursue a dual-tracked career. He moved to Nashville eight years ago, and, when he’s not acting, devotes his time to his music.

"My schedule is to do four or five months of ‘Leverage’ and, as soon as we’re done, we get out on the road," Kane says.

While he enjoys, and is grateful for, his acting career, Kane says there’s something unique about the immediacy of playing music live in front of a crowd.

"A movie takes time to film and when it’s done it takes more time to get it released," Kane says. "Then, when it does come out, you’re not in the theater. You’re not sitting there, and you don’t see if the people are laughing or crying.

"Music — being there onstage — is the best drug in the world. They’re singing it back to you, you can see them laughing, and you can see if they’re crying, and you can see the emotion."

Contact reporter John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0280.

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