If you would have asked me the night The Lost Boys released in 1987 where I thought Kiefer Sutherland would be in 2017 I probably would not have ever uttered the words, performing live country music. It is such a far contrast from his epic vampire role as David in The Lost Boys, his role as Jack Bauer in 24 and as POTUS in his current show Designated Survivor. Kiefer Sutherland the country singer? Yes! This is exactly the side of Kiefer Sutherland I witnessed Sunday night in Seattle at the Tractor Tavern.
Many of you may not know that actor/producer/director, Kiefer Sutherland, who has awed us on the big screen and our televisions for many years reaching back to 1983 also has a deep passion for country music. His passion for country music began during his rodeo time while he was team-roping, yes I said rodeo and team-roping. Sutherland has had many roles in film and television such as Stand By Me, The Lost Boys, The Vanishing, A Few Good Men, Pompeii, 24, and his latest Designated Survivor yet none would never have prepared fans of the actor for his next adventure in to music.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got my hands on his album Down In a Hole, but I was definitely intrigued to give it a spin and listen to it. When it comes to Sutherland as a country music artist, there is nothing pretentious or fake about his music. It will remind country music fans of the music that was being made many years ago before country exploded into the mainstream culture of pop country seen so much today. It’s raw, gritty and genuine. His music connects to his listeners because of the truth in his lyrics, the great music they are paired with and that sound of yesterday’s country that pulls through with every note. Sutherland also has a surprising undertone of Joe Cocker in his voice that you can hear as he belts out his raspy vocals.
During a call a couple of weeks back I had the chance to listen to Sutherland talk about his music and ask him about it myself along with a few other music industry folks. I hadn’t quite expected to hear such a deep and candid conversation about his music, but that’s exactly what he gave. In his own words when asked about the artistic difference between acting/directing and music, “I thought I was going to be able to use 30 years working as an actor, certainly that was going to help me on stage and I was wrong. The one part of that component I left out in my thinking about it was that for 30 years I’ve been able to work as an actor and have a character. When I go on stage with music, the songs are very personal and they’re mine. I leave myself in a more open position than I have before. ”
Hearing such an open response from Sutherland, I had to ask him if he had any concerns while making the album about media or fan criticism that may come since writing music shares a much deeper part of who he is than say, being handed a pre-written script and his response was this, “Well I certainly was aware of it and certainly aware of the stigma of an actor doing music. I probably wasn’t smart enough to realize the potential position I was putting myself in until I actually got on stage. It was that moment where I felt I had to explain where I was in my life when I wrote the song and why I wrote it. Regardless of the fact you think I have lived a public life, I have but I’ve always managed to know that a lot of stuff that is said is simply not true and I would know the truth for myself. When you start to explain the truth in the middle of a concert, I felt really exposed and I remember it making me feel very guarded and a bit uncomfortable at first. I think it was a show in Ann Arbor, maybe because the audience was sitting down or it was more quiet I just ended up having more of a conversation with this audience in the middle of the songs. It was one of the most freeing kind of enjoyable experiences I’d ever had. It was kind of having to push to a point and then you either break through that barrier or you don’t and lucky for me I did. I have to be honest, you can never control what the press is going to say or not say, but I do think you have some control in the context of a show and to the people who have chosen to come to that show and that experience for me has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. To be able to tell stories in 3-4 minutes through a song and point out that if there’s anybody in the audience who’s lost someone they love way too early life, this is shared experience. If you’ve had your heart broken in this fashion at a really young age, then we have that in common. This idea that we can leave a show at the end of the night and whatever preconceived notions we had about each other at the beginning, a lot of that’s been broken down. That for me has just been a really special experience.”
After chatting with Sutherland I was looking forward to see what his live show entailed and finally got my answer this past weekend as Sutherland brought his “Not Enough Whiskey 2017 Tour” to Seattle Sunday night for a sold out show. Along with this tour was Georgia country artist Rick Brantley who puts on a really great stripped down country show. Just a guy, his guitar and harmonica with a voice you will enjoy and want to hear more of. As Sutherland‘s set started the lights went low and a light fog under blue lighting blew across the stage. Fans cheered as the show started, a few phones hit the air to snap a few shots then for the remainder of the evening there were rarely any phone sightings as fans listened and sang along in the packed venue.
Kiefer Sutherland proved that he had nothing to prove by giving one hell of a country performance. He sang many of his own songs talked to the audience and to shake it up a bit and give respect to a few of his favorite music artist’s he played a few from Merle Haggard, Tom Petty the man who in Sutherland‘s own words, “has probably never written a bad song lyric” then closed out his show with his version of Bob Dylan‘s “Knocking On Heaven’s Door”.
This was an absolutely amazing show. It was intimate, honest and full of great music. Kiefer Sutherland is out on tour now. Make sure to catch him live if you can! Check the remaining tour dates below:
NOT ENOUGH WHISKEY TOUR 2017:
May 09 Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, Utah
May 10 Fox Theatre – Boulder, Colo.
May 12 Choctaw Event Center – Grant, Okla.
May 13 3Ten – Austin, Texas
May 14 Fitzgerald’s – Houston, Texas
May 16 Varsity Theatre – Baton Rouge, La.
May 17 Terminal West – Atlanta, Ga.
May 19 Exit Inn – Nashville, Tenn.
May 20 Fubar – St. Louis, Mo.
May 21 Thalia Hall – Chicago, Ill.
May 23 Birchmere – Alexandria, Va.
May 25 Bowery Ballroom – New York, N.Y.
May 26 Stephen Talkhouse – Amagansett, N.Y.