Kevin Costner brought his band Modern West to Strathmore on Thursday night. Kevin Costner … as in Academy and Golden Globe Award winning actor, as in Dances with Wolves, The Body Guard, Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, Silverado and many, many more … as in actor who invests millions of dollars of his own money into discarded machines and technology that (20 years later) ends up being a viable solution to cleaning catastrophic levels of spilling oil from our ocean’s waters … there he was, guitar in hand, musicians in tow, singing his heart out. It was fun to see him performing with his band, but more than anything else, it was fun just spending time with such a nice guy.
The concert opened with a solo set by Americana soul-folk singer-songwriter Sara Beck, who accompanied herself on acoustic guitar. Beck, a Maryland native now living in Nashville, happens to be married to Modern West guitarist Park Chisolm. Although she enjoys a solo career of her own, she frequently opens for and sings with Modern West, and she does a great job. Her rendition of “I Know These Hills,” from Costner’s upcoming “Hatfields and McCoys” miniseries was particularly soulful and very well accompanied by Bobby Yang on violin.
Costner formed his band, Modern West, in 2007. He sings lead vocals and plays guitar along with lead guitarist and producer Teddy Morgan, John Coinman and Blair Forward (also on guitar), Larry Cobb on drums, Park Chisholm on vocals and guitar, and Bobby Yang, who is a stand-out on fiddle.
Costner is, above all, enjoyable, and he clearly thrives on live performance. His music is simply structured, always sincere, and lyrically very strong. Most of it is based on what one might describe as a folk-rock sound infused with country-like lyrics that Costner, with his finely tuned and experienced acting chops, delivers in a very convincing way. Costner’s genuine interest in the subject matter of his music is real, and his introductions to his music provide insight into both his music and to who he is as a person.
When Hollywood meets music, one might think that Hollywood could overshadow the music coming from a movie star’s rock band, especially one that only began in 2007. Without in anyway detracting from the music, the compliment is that Hollywood did not overshadow, but Kevin Costner did. Not a soul cared, because it had nothing to do with ego or grandstanding. The guy is just interesting, humble, bigger than life, and fun.
Costner’s three-part miniseries Hatfields and McCoys (watch this preview video) will premiere on the History Channel on Memorial Day, and he has a companion CD that will be released with it. Costner plays ”Devil” Anse Hatfield. Listening to Costner talk about the Hatfields and McCoys, and about the pain and death that resulted from the hateful feud that destroyed two former friends and their families, provided insight into the thoughtful and grounded person that Kevin Costner is. So did ongoing references to his mother and to his children. So did his recollection of playing Superman as an 11 year old child. So did his comment during his introduction to “The Angels Came,” and to the American appetite and our 400 year history of securing every border via the blood of 500 nations. Costner has a deep respect for America, but he knows and shares history in a way that many books cannot and do not. Listening to what he had to say was more than interesting and every bit as enjoyable as listening to what he came to sing.
It looks as if Kevin Costner and Modern West will be returning to Maryland again next year. I tend to review classical, jazz, and Broadway concerts, but you can count on it … I’ll be there. I really like this guy, and so will you.
Listen to Kevin Costner talk about family, career, fame, and his experiences shooting Hatfields and McCoys.
Listen to Kevin Costner and Sara Beck perform “Let Me Be the One” with Modern West.
The Music Center at Strathmore
From classical, to opera, to Broadway, to jazz, to R&B, to country, there is always something wonderful happening at Strathmore. I hope to see you there soon! Click here to purchase tickets online or call 301.581.5100
The Music Center at Strathmore
5301 Tuckerman Lane
North Bethesda, MD 20852-3385
The Mansion at Strathmore
10701 Rockville Pike
North Bethesda, MD 20852-3224