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Jeff Bridges singing with sincerity in pair of shows

Movie stars who branch out to sing never know who is going to show up at their concerts, or what attracts them. The possibilities get riskier if you happened to star in “The Big Lebowski.”

But Jeff Bridges abides, to the point of once serenading a “Lebowski Fest” of loyalists to the flick with the biggest cult following since “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

“I did have my Beatle moment,” he recalls with a chuckle. “It was amazing to play to a sea of Dudes, dressed up like bowling pins and Jackie Treehorns.”

So all are welcome in the sold-out shows today at Santa Fe Station and Saturday at Red Rock Resort? No matter if they are Dudeists, Rooster Cogburn-ites, Tron-troglodytes, Starmen or, most pertinent to this weekend, Crazy Hearts?

“Absolutely. We’re sincere man,” Daniels says, sounding on the phone as though he has briefly reborrowed The Dude himself. “We give our shot to embrace all the aspects of what being alive is about. The humor, the tragedy, the whole deal.”

While no one much cares when a singer branches into acting, the reverse can bring skepticism — even ridicule, if you remember Howard Stern challenging the likes of Corey Feldman and Tina Yost to musical showdowns.

“I think that’s something that’s very natural for people to do, kind of pigeonhole people. I think it’s a real human deal,” Bridges says. “I don’t worry about it too much.”

Not when he’s an Oscar winner for his turn as a faded country singer in “Crazy Heart,” and his album — simply titled “Jeff Bridges” — was produced by T-Bone Burnett, the king of all things roots and Americana.

“When ‘Crazy Heart’ came about I got to play with my old buddy T-Bone of about 30 years,” he says. Burnett was a co-producer on the movie, oversaw the soundtrack and co-wrote the Oscar-winning song “The Weary Kind.”

The two are reunited, though their contributions are separate, on the current film documentary “A Place at the Table.” Bridges appears on camera and Burnett scored the look at hunger and malnourishment in America.

Bridges also cites his friendship with the members of his band called — what else? — The Abiders. “It’s just a great joy. I guess that’s what brings me to the party, just how much fun it is.”

Comedians often talk about how stand-up provides immediate feedback, while movie shoots bring long days of performing just to the crew. Is that the appeal for Bridges, who certainly isn’t doing this for the money?

“That wasn’t what inspired me to get to do it in the first place, but you do get that immediate feeling of how you’re being received, kind of being in the whole thing together. It’s a wonderful feeling,” he says. “You get that feeling when you’re just playing with musicians generally. You get a feeling of whether you’re cookin’ or not. It’s still pretty fresh to me.”

The self-titled album is actually Bridges’ second, after “Be Here Soon” on an independent label in 2000.

“I’ve been playing music since I was a kid and writing music for many, many years,” he says. “I’m 60 so jeez, it must have been for 55 years, something like that,” he says with a laugh, “that I’ve been writing and playing music.

“I’m glad it didn’t go, that my natural interest for it kept up,” he adds. Perhaps it was meant to be something that came later in time, when his voice — nay, his entire persona — could sell a song with that lived-in, seen-it-all “Crazy Heart” presence and authority.

“I probably have a younger voice on (‘Be Here Soon’),” he says. But you’re right, your voice changes over the years, that aspect of your instrument lends a different quality.”

And just as Bridges on the phone sometimes sounds very Dudelike, Bridges singing can’t help but sound like Bad Blake, he of the crazy heart.

“It’s a funny thing because whenever I do any kind of creative deal, whether it’s painting or acting, doing music, ceramics, it’s kind of the same assignment,” he says. “Just kind of gettin’ out of the way and letting it come through you. That’s a large part of what I go for. It’s wonderful to kind of surprise yourself. You don’t quite know what’s going to happen.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at
mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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