Actor Jeff Daniels Interview | Working with Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood
Episode 115th December 2020 • Musicians Reveal • Joe Kelley
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Step behind the scenes with award-winning actor Jeff Daniels in this episode as he takes us on a fascinating journey through his collaborations with legendary directors Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood. Gain exclusive insights into the unique and compelling creative processes of these iconic filmmakers as Daniels shares personal anecdotes, challenges, and the profound impact these experiences had on his acting career.

Discover the intricacies of working with Woody Allen, unraveling the layers of his unconventional and distinctive approach to storytelling. Jeff Daniels delves into the challenges and rewards of collaborating with Allen, providing a firsthand account of the cinematic magic that unfolds in the making of each project.

Shifting gears, we explore another dimension of Jeff Daniels' artistic prowess – his musical career. Get an inside look at his passion for music and how it intertwines with his acting journey. From playing roles on the big screen to strumming chords on stage, Daniels opens up about his love for music and the joy of pursuing both passions.

But the conversation doesn't stop there. Jeff Daniels generously shares his commitment to supporting his hometown theater, emphasizing the importance of fostering artistic communities and nurturing talent close to home.

Join us for a captivating and candid conversation with Jeff Daniels, where each episode unfolds a new chapter in the life of this multifaceted artist. Whether you're a fan of his acting, music, or philanthropy, this podcast provides an intimate glimpse into the life and artistry of a true renaissance man.

"Musicians Reveal" Podcast Bio

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Prince featured the "Upper Room with Joe Kelley and Gi Dussault" on his official website www.npgmusicclub.com. This is the first radio show to have ever received that honor. "Musicians Reveal with Joe Kelley" has been on the radio airwaves since 1982. Joe Kelley and Gi Dussault co-host the show and are well-respected in the music business as creative air personalities and supporters of independent musicians . Our web site is located at www.musiciansreveal.com .

The show features creative music in funk, R&B, jazz, blues, rock, hip-hop, latin, and gospel. In addition, Joe Kelley has interviewed renowned musicians such as Victor Wooten, Sheila E. , Foley, Robin Duhe, Jef Lee Johnson, Jellybean Johnson, Monte Moir, Rhonda Smith, Bernie Worrell, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Bland, Larry Graham, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, Steve Smith, St. Paul Peterson, JD Blair, Tori Ruffin, Kat Dyson, Eric Person, actor Jeff Daniels, Junior Giscombe, John Scofield, EC Scott, John Blackwell, Mystic Bowie, and many others.

Transcripts

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We have been playing this CD for quite a while.

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It's a great CD.

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It's called Live and Unplugged to benefit the Purple Rose

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Theater, featuring singer, songwriter, and producer,

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and playwright, Mr. Jeff Daniels.

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And it's a true honor to have Jeff Daniels on the upper room.

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Thanks, Jeff.

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Good to be here, Joe.

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So you're really busy.

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I'm looking at your itinerary.

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You're doing as many shows this winter

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as a regular rock star performer.

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What's been going on in preparation

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for this next stint of shows?

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For the Purple Rose shows?

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Yeah, the Purple Rose shows, yeah.

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Well, I mean, it's an unusual problem for me,

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because I've got the CD out, and people

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are going to want to hear certain songs off the CD.

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So I've got like 35, 40 songs that are not on the CD.

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Easily another 15 that I could play,

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and could easily do a show of all new material,

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which I'll probably over the 10 shows

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drop in all of those songs at various points.

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But it's fun.

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John Hyatt, he's a guy that will walk out

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with a song list of 75 songs that he can play.

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And depending on how he feels and what the crowd's like,

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he'll just go down the list and kind of go,

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all right, I'll do that one.

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So I don't know, maybe it'll be that this time.

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So we have cameras rolling and tape rolling

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for possible further release?

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We'll have tape rolling.

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We've had tape rolling all four of the past years,

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and we'll roll tape on every show.

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We have about 25 to 30 songs that we've recorded live

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in various places, Purple Rose last year,

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and also Birdland and Joe's Pub in New York,

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and Rams Head down in Annapolis.

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We recorded those shows.

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So we've got plenty of material.

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We'll probably do something, put out a second CD

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by the fall of next year.

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Well, our listeners right now, they

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can go to JeffDaniels.com for getting Jeff's CD.

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And it's all available on internet websites as well,

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iTunes, CD Baby, in your local borders and other outlets.

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And also, you're up on iTunes as well.

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You've been doing a lot of traveling around and promoting

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the record, which is good.

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People see the album out, and they

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maybe say they didn't know you were performing this long,

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but you've been performing just about 30 years or so, right?

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Yeah, quietly just been playing just for my own enjoyment.

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Self-taught, got all the stuff in Grossman books,

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and Kev Moe, and all those guys.

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I just really studied it, especially

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Delta Blues and all of that.

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I've just done it and written songs, basically,

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for my own kind of notebook, just to throw it in there.

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It's kind of like a musical diary.

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About four or five years ago, in order to raise more money,

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the theater said, why don't you go out on stage

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with your guitar and see if we can charge money

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for people to come and see you?

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And I was like, well, OK.

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I mean, when you're raising money for a nonprofit,

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you'll do anything, so it worked.

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And they came, and once I got through the first year

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and discovered just how naked you are out there

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with just an acoustic guitar and your own material,

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I understood what it was and now have turned it

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into this show that's on the CD, which is very entertaining,

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very funny, and at times, even moving.

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That's interesting to say how naked it could be on stage.

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I was reading a quote from Prince.

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He did an acoustic set in his last tour,

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and he said, you can't be up there thinking

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about your grocery list the next day.

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You've got to be really focused and everything

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with the audience.

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You've got to be there.

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And you know what helped, to be honest, was Broadway.

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I was an actor to be on stage eight times a week on Broadway

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or off Broadway, and where you're doing the show over

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and over and over and over, you start

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to learn where the jokes are, where it's strong,

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where it's weak, and it was a great kind of introduction

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to the musical show with the acoustic guitar.

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At least it wasn't completely foreign to me,

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but you're definitely, when you go into the guitar solo,

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there's no band to look to, that's for sure.

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So our listeners right now, we're

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talking with Jeff Daniels and the CD, which

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is entitled Live and Unplugged to Benefit the Purple Rose

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Theater.

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All the proceeds going back into the theater, right?

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Yeah, all the proceeds from the CD

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go to the Purple Rose Theater Company,

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which we've sold through the website,

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jeffdaniels.com, and iTunes, et cetera.

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We sold about 12,000 CDs, which is pretty good

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for an independent release.

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Oh, yeah, definitely.

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People out in the Midwest can go out to Chelsea, Michigan.

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December 20th through the 31st, 10 shows,

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Jeff will be performing at the Purple Rose Theater.

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137 Park Street, Chelsea, Michigan.

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Ticket information, 734-433-7673.

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And then moving ahead, January 2nd,

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you're out in Colorado at the Sheridan Opera House.

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And do you pronounce it Tell-a-Ride?

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Tell-ya-Ride, I believe.

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Tell-ya-Ride, OK.

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And then coming here in the East,

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which is about two and a half hours from where we are,

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March 18th in Somerville, Mass at the Somerville Theater.

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Special guest with Cheryl Wheeler, which.

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Yeah, I'm going to open for Cheryl, which will be a thrill.

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I'm a big fan of her songwriting.

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Now, we kicked off, before we plugged in for the interview,

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the opening track to the record, If William Shatner Can,

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I Can Too, and definitely showcases your humor,

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but great chops on the vocals and guitar playing.

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This actually kind of, was it the impetus,

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the title for the record to get you actually put one together?

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Well, no, that kind of came later.

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It was in front of the first show I did.

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I go, I've got to have an opening song,

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because people are going to come and basically wait

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to see a train wreck.

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And I got to deal with that, the disclaimer, right up front.

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And so in the four years, I've always opened my show

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with basically a song that says, look, I know I'm an actor,

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and I know I'm not known for this,

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and I know you're sitting back judging me

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with like an 0 and 2 count on me.

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But you know what, here's a song that deals with it,

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and it kind of gets that out of the way right off the bat.

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So have you been keeping up with the Hot Stove League

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with the Tigers?

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Tigers are a mess, and the Lions are worse.

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Oh yeah, definitely, yeah.

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So I'm actually going to do the Tiger fan blues

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at the Purple Rose shows in a couple weeks,

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and I've rewritten it to include references to the Lions.

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But I got to give you credit,

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because I heard you were,

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despite that really big losing season,

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you had the Tiger fan hat on regardless, right?

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Absolutely, they're my guys, they're my team.

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You got to stick with them, and it's tough

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to walk into a place like New York

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and watch all these Yankees fans walking around.

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I'm a Met fan, so you don't have to worry

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I can't stand the Yankees.

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Oh, well hey, hello.

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But I'm, I just, you know, I mean, I wear,

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we have an apartment in New York,

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the top floor of a brownstone,

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and yeah, I've got three Tiger caps in there

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that I wear around the city.

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So why don't we give a listen to that song

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which we just spoke about, the lifelong Tiger fan blues,

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and it's from my special guest, Jeff Daniels.

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You can go to jeffdaniels.com

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to find out all about the record

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and to support independent musical theater and theater.

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So we'll come back and speak once again.

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And that's another track from Jeff Daniels,

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live and unplugged at the Purple Rose Theater,

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the lifelong Tiger fan blues,

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and Jeff Daniels is our special guest here,

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accomplished actor, producer, playwright,

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and singer and producer.

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So gotta give you plaudits for all your storied career

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and, you know, film and Broadway,

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and you've got just, you know,

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we'll touch a little bit on the acting.

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Upcoming, you have RV with Robin Williams, right?

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That must, is it totally completed?

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Yeah, well, I mean, they're in post-production,

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so they're doing music and looping,

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but yeah, we're done shooting,

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and it's a very funny movie, big studio comedy

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about recreational vehicles,

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and Robin and his family,

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basically the movie is Robin and his family

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take a recreational vehicle trip

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and everything that can possibly go wrong does.

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And it's very funny, it was a thrill to work with him.

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Now, about how often do you films a year,

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or does it vary?

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It varies, you know, it depends, you know,

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if you're in demand or people want you,

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then you're, I mean, I'll probably spend six

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to seven, eight months a year shooting,

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and then make sure I take the four months off,

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it, you know, spread out.

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But, you know, I tend not to take movies

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that, you know, shoot for a year and a half

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in Thailand or something.

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I think I saw, we were watching the other night

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on one of the channels, your old buddy Woody Allen,

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they asked him if something about, you know,

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how much he is into making movies,

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and he said, well, if it's 6.30 at night,

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and they wanna do another shot over and over,

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and the Nick game's at seven, he goes,

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inevitably, he'll go to the Nick game

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instead of doing the other shot.

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Oh, it's true, and it's a great lesson.

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I mean, when we shot Purple Rose of Cairo,

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I was on that for Woody, that was definitely it.

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If he had Nick's tickets, or the game was on TV that night,

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we were finished by five, no problem.

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Yeah, actually, he was commenting

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on the Purple Rose of Cairo and yourself during that,

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so it probably was right around there.

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Absolutely, yeah, and it was great,

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because it's like a human work day, you know?

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It's not one of these 18 to 20 hour days

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where they just drive you into the ground.

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It's Woody's got Nick's tickets, and he's going,

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and that's a wrap.

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It's beautiful, it's a beautiful thing.

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Well, you know, the thing about what you've done,

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I'm sure, for your family and your wife,

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you worked in New York and established a movie career,

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and then you went back home to Chelsea, Michigan.

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Well, what's it like, actually,

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what was it like at the beginning making that decision

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to go back home and still make a career

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and do what you love?

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Well, while we did, Kathleen and I just,

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we had one kid, we were gonna have more,

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and we both are from Michigan, so it was familiar to us.

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It was home, and after 10 years in New York,

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we just moved back to Michigan because it was home,

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and that's where we wanted to be,

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and that's where we wanted to be based,

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and all we did, which is unusual in Hollywood,

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is all we did is we put family first, career second.

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It was that simple.

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Career was a close second, you know, as far as money

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and supporting a family and all that,

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but it was second.

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That meant that we didn't live

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where the career wanted me to live, which was LA.

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We lived where the family would be best off,

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in our opinion, and I was the one on the airplanes,

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and that's how we did it,

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and our kids, I think, are better for it.

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Now, for the musicians out there,

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what kind of guitar do you bring out on stage

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and use on the record?

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I got, well, on the CD, I used a 1946 Gibson J-45.

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It's a great sounding guitar,

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and Gibson, it was actually made in Kalamazoo, Michigan,

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and so being from Michigan, that was important to me.

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I've got about 10 of these different guitars.

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Right now, I'm playing a 1934 Martin

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that was an archtop with the F holes,

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and they didn't sound very good back then,

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and so they stopped making them very quickly,

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and there's a company in Lansing, Michigan

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called Elderly Instruments,

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and the vintage guitar guys out there know where that is

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and know of it, and there's a guy named Joe Concoli

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up there, and he took an old 1934 Martin C-2,

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and he just took the top piece off

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and replaced it with a 2003 kind of red Adirondacks Bruce,

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I believe, top piece that Martin generally uses

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when they're making their own guitars,

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and he basically took a 1934 guitar

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and put a new top piece on it,

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so I don't feel so badly about plugging in the hardware

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and the pickups and all that stuff into it.

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I don't feel like I'm destroying a piece of art,

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but the sound of it is great,

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and that's what I've been playing recently.

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So they got some good music shops out your way?

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They do, they really do.

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Elderly is probably the leader, you know,

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as far as, I mean, they've got everything,

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and they're a nationally recognized kind of store.

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I mean, they got everything, and they're great.

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I mean, I take all my stuff up there to be fixed.

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Now, with the success of this independent release CD,

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live in a plug to benefit the Purple Rose Theater,

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any future plans right now,

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or you got stuff in the Jeff Daniels musical vault

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to put out another one?

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Studio release?

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Well, we've got Christine Lavin,

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who's a big supporter of the CD,

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asked me to write a song about food.

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She's putting out a CD in about six months to a year

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called One Meatball, which is basically people like me,

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she's very kindly included me with Dave Van Ronk

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and Tom Paxton and other people writing songs,

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but it has to be about food.

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It's a typical Christine Lavin comedy kind of thing.

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And so that's the kind of assignment,

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is to write something about food, about recipe.

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And so I wrote this song called Tomato Pudding,

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which is this family recipe we've got

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that we throw out every Thanksgiving.

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And so I turned it into this kind of sexual kind of thing

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that Christine blushes when I play it.

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But so I'm gonna put that on her CD.

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We've got a live version of it

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that I did at Joe's Pub in New York,

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but we also, we're gonna do a studio version of it

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that we're almost finished with.

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That should be great.

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And Jeff Daniels, our special guest,

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I gotta thank you for coming by WVUF in the Upper Room.

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And our WVUF listeners,

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if you missed out on this interview and just checked in,

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we'll be re-airing it in its entirety

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for three days and four nights

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at UpperRoomWithJoeKelly.com.

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So we should go out with a couple songs from the CD

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and make sure fans come out to support you on this tour.

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And if you're in Chelsea, Michigan,

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10 shows from December 20th through December 31st,

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JeffDaniels.com, let's see.

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We'll go out with a song

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which talks about your encounters on the movie set

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with Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry Blues,

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which has got a lot of humor to it.

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And of course the song I'm sure means a lot to you,

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Mama Never Left Her Oldest Boy Alone.

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Yeah.

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Very supportive mom, right?

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Very much so.

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And she said something to me that kept me in New York

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and it's probably a big reason why I'm still an actor.

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So thanks, Jeff, I really, really appreciate it.

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Thanks, Jeff, good time.

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