Traverse City Record-Eagle

Arts & Entertainment

January 17, 2014

Jeff Daniels to play City Opera House

TRAVERSE CITY — Jeff Daniels sings?

Yes, and the versatile Michigan actor, TV and movie star, playwright, theater owner and recent Emmy winner will sing and play guitar Jan. 23 at the City Opera House.

Expect diversity — folk, blues, rock, talking songs, witty lyrics, and quiet poignant songs like “Grandfather’s Hat.”

Widely known for his acting, Daniels has been playing guitar since the 1970s but only in recent years began doing concerts. He has turned out five albums: “Live and Unplugged to Benefit the Purple Rose (2006),” “Keep it Right Here (2010),” “Grandfather’s Hat” and “Live at the Purple Rose, both in 2012.

Many song titles hint at the tales he tells: “Are You as Excited About Me as I Am?” “Revisionist Mary Had a Little Lamb,” “Blind Date” and “Recreational Vehicle.”

The concert is billed as a benefit to the Opera House, which is struggling to cover a $250,000 gap in its budget this year. Daniels will be paid for his performance, but audience members who purchase the high-price $125 benefit “circle ticket” also can attend an after-show private party with Daniels.

Regular tickets are $32 and $40.

“I’m happy to come and help,” Daniels said.

He said the City Opera House’s funding problem is a common issue for many venues. Daniels does 10 shows during the Christmas holiday season every year that help net about $100,000 for Purple Rose Theatre operations.

“Our country and communities could do a better job of supporting culture, and many do,” he said. “The problem we fight against is the attitude that we don’t need live performances. It’s looked at as something that is not a necessity. We have TV, iPads, phones. That’s hard to overcome.”

But he thinks live performance will endure.

“Live performances have survived centuries of change,” he said. “Movies were going to be the end but weren’t. Then it was TV, and it wasn’t. Live performances in places like the Opera House are just for the night and that means it is just for you that night. And that’s a value to people.”

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