Actor, ace guitarists trade tales for radio
Actor, director, musician. Now Kevin Bacon can add radio host to his resume.
Bacon has been tapped by AMFM Radio Networks to host “The Guitar Show With Kevin Bacon,” a two-hour weekly show boasting the top names in rock guitar discussing influences, sharing anecdotes and then listening to the music industry’s greatest guitar-driven songs.
The first show, which airs nationally on Labor Day weekend, sports Eddie Van Halen, Queen’s Brian May and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry.
Though Bacon is well-suited to host the show — he’s the rhythm axeman and co-vocalist for the Bacon Brothers band — he says the chance to spend time with some of his musical idols was what really got him hooked into doing the show.
“I’m not as enamored with actors as I am with musicians, especially like these guys,” Bacon told Daily Variety. “These are some of my heroes, and to be in the same room listening to them play or to what they have to say is fun for me.”
The show is expecting future guests, including Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt and Joe Satriani, to participate along with the audience to illustrate what makes the guitar such an integral instrument.
The interviews will also explore the guitarists’ influences, how they created their signature sounds, in addition to tales of behind-the-scenes action, roadshow misadventures and the kinds of equipment used.
Bacon says the most difficult aspect of the hosting duties was being himself.
“I’m used to having a character to get behind. To be just me feels odd,” he says.
For anyone worried the show will be of interest only to members of Bacon’s fan club, the actor says, “The good news is, it’s not a show about me; I’m not the interesting part. The musicians and their stories are what makes this show worth listening to.”
Bacon, who appeared earlier this year in Columbia Pictures’ “Wild Things” with Matt Dillon, says the show will be loaded with full songs and stories that will be geared toward “removing a lot of the mystery of how a record is made or how a song was created.”
“The Guitar Show” will differ from many similar interview shows by offering up information on the latest computer programs and devices that can be used by both armchair axemasters and touring pros.
The hosting gig follows Bacon recently getting high marks from producers at VH1 for his hosting efforts of the cabler’s countdown of the “100 Greatest” recording artists. Bacon introduced and back-announced clips of performances of the rock era’s top recording artists.
Bacon will be able to relate to his guitar slinging guests, having recorded and toured with his brother Michael, the other half of The Bacon Brothers. The band last year released its first CD, “Forosoco.”
The brothers have opened for major touring acts in addition to performing to sold out shows on the national club circuit.
“The guitar is synonymous with Rock ‘n Roll,” said Ben Manilla, whose eponymous production banner produced the show for syndication by AMFM. “Together with Kevin and AMFM, we’ll give radio listeners what they crave: great music and an insider’s access to the guitar slingers they love.”
Manilla’s firm is one of the country’s leading producers of radio programming, including “The House of Blues Radio Hour,” hosted by Dan Aykroyd, and specials such as “I Want To Take You Higher — The Psychedelic Era,” created for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
Bacon, who also starred in “Apollo 13,” and “A Few Good Men,” says that although he’s listened to radio stalwarts like Rick Dees, Casey Kasem and Larry King “to get a feel for the way people interview,” he hopes to bring his own style to the proceedings.
“This is something I love. Nobody’s going to the bank on this,” Bacon says. “As time goes by I’m sure I’ll get better at it.”