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Jeff Daniels Mixes Music With Movies

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Jeff Daniels has taken on characters from General George Washington in The Crossing,’ to a cheating husband in ‘Terms of Endearment,’ to a wacky misfit in ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ but now the critically acclaimed actor is giving audiences a glimpse into his real life. He has created his own brand of folk music mixed with low-key stand up, a la Garrison Keillor or perhaps a one-man Peter, Paul & Mary, in a live show filled with side-splitting musical storytelling.

Although Jeff has been playing guitar and writing music since he first moved to New York in 1976, he didn’t intend to ever play publicly or record. After starring in the Woody Allen‘s 1986 film ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo,’ he had a change of heart. He found recording albums and playing concerts helped him raise money to support the professional theater he founded, the Purple Rose Theatre Co. in Chelsea, Mich.

“I just wanted to play guitar, like a back-porch thing,” Jeff tells The Boot. “I was never going to play them in front of anyone — a lot of them are god-awful.”

That may be, but a lot of them are hilarious, as evidenced by his latest CD, ‘Live at the Purple Rose Theatre.’ Consider ‘Daddy’s Little Daughter,’ which details his thoughts when his then teenage daughter was learning to drive, or ‘Allen Parkway Inn,’ where he talks about the low-grade hotel he stayed in at while filming ‘Terms of Endearment.’

“It is a way for me to combine acting, music, storytelling, and comedy,” says Jeff of the often unpredictable show. “Audiences love to see the guy they liked in a certain movie.”

They arguably also love the insider’s view of a star, as you can tell by the uproarious laughter during songs that detail everything from his comical views about meeting George Harrison to fan encounters in restrooms. Jeff’s perfectly timed comic intros and asides — making you feel as if he’s talking to you as a friend — are what make the show really work.

Despite the accolades for his shows and albums, Jeff doesn’t consider himself a musician, saying that would be a disservice to those who’ve made a career of music.

“I’ve made 55 movies,” says Jeff. “Some of them are very good and they will probably outlive me. Some of them weren’t so good. But at the end of the day as you age, you begin to look for other creative outlets, the next step of what you’ll do as a performer. I enjoy this.”

Jeff will begin a tour in October with his first show October 9 in Clinton Township, Mich. For a complete list of dates and cities, check here.

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