Actors and athletes typically decide that a music career is a good idea because they're a) wildly popular/filthy rich and looking to capitalize on the branding of their own persona, or b) dangerously close to moving into the Surreal Life house and desperately trying to keep their careers afloat. For actor/director/playwright Jeff Daniels who's turned a lifelong passion for songwriting into two mostly acoustic folk albums neither is even remotely true. No, Dumb and Dumber's second-most-famous star actually had to be talked into recording the songs that appear on Live & Unplugged (2004) and the recently released Grandfather's Hat. And that's not all: Every dollar made from every CD sale and performance ticket benefits the Purple Rose Theatre Company, the Midwesterners-only playhouse and theater company Daniels founded in 1991 in his home town of Chelsea, Michigan.
The songs on Daniels's two albums which he'll play tonight at the Soiled Dove Underground, 740 East First Avenue in the Lowry Town Center range from mixed-and-mastered studio cuts about lost love to live, quirky and cuss-heavy spoken tales. On "Have a Good Life," a disturbing yet sweet acoustic number about road rage, audience members cackle in the background as Daniels sings, "And when you tore the hood ornament off my car/I'd never seen an object thrown so far/When you tried to open up my door/That's what power locks are for/Have a good life and die/I hope it hurts so much it makes you cry." It's catchy and funny and not at all gimmicky. Fact is, Daniels's songs and motives feel so honest and true that you can't help but give him the credit he deserves and the support his little Michigan theater so genuinely needs.