April 09, 2020

Jeff Daniels swaps acting for music at The Grand

People have long known Jeff Daniels for his work in such films as “Terms of Endearment,” “Gettysburg” and that cinematic masterpiece “Dumb and Dumber.”

Despite living in Michigan, far away from the movie hotbeds of Hollywood and New York, the 51-year-old actor has stayed busy with starring and supporting roles in film for the past two decades.

Now the Obie Award-winning actor has taken on a new role: singer-songwriter.

For years, Daniels has been scribbling material in his “big, black notebook,” which he converted into songs. He recorded one of his rare concerts on his first CD, “Live and Unplugged,” on his own Boomadeeboom Records. He’s also now making a short tour, which lands Friday, Oct. 13, at The Grand in Ellsworth for a 7:30 p.m. show.

The proceeds from both the CD and the tour go to the nonprofit Purple Rose Theater (named after the 1985 Woody Allen film “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” in which Daniels co-starred). The Purple Rose is a community repertory theater, based in Daniels’ hometown of Chelsea, Mich. It’s modeled after his training ground, the defunct Circle Repertory Theater in Chicago.

Humor is a major element in Daniels’ songwriting, with such titles as “If William Shatner Can, I Can Too,” “You Can Drink An Ugly Girl Pretty,” “Recreational Vehicle,” “Momma Never Left Her Oldest Boy Alone” and “The Lifelong Tiger Fan Blues.”

Daniels takes a rather tongue-and-cheek approach to his second “career.”

“Someone had suggested that if we pushed me onstage with a guitar, people might actually pay money to see what happened,” he has explained.

“In the nonprofit world of fundraising, this is known as a ‘good idea.'”

Tickets for the Jeff Daniels show are $32 and are available online at www.grandonline.org or by calling The Grand box office at 667-9500.

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