The Dude Abides: Jeff Bridges & the Abiders to Tahoe

The Dude
Jeff Bridges & the Abiders play Saturday at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.

“The Big Lebowski” meets “Crazy Heart” Saturday in Tahoe onstage.

Jeff Bridges combines his two greatest recent works when he performs with Jeff Bridges & the Abiders in the Harrah’s Lake Tahoe South Shore Room. The show is expected to sell out.

Bridges played the Dude in “Lebowski” and a troubled country singer in “Crazy Heart.”

Tahoe Onstage asked Bridges if he could have only one career, would it be movies or music?

“Probably the acting thing because I could always play a musician,” said Bridges, who also did just that in 1980’s “Heaven’s Gate.”

“Kris Kristofferson brought a lot of his music buddies (to the production of  ‘Heaven’s Gate),’ ” Bridges said. “So I met T-Bone (Burnett), Stephen Bruton, Ronnie Hawkins. All kinds of great folks and we would jam a lot there.”

Burnett produced the music for “Crazy Heart,” and Bridges’

character, many say, was based upon Bruton.

“(‘Heaven’s Gate’ was) when my music began with T-Bone,” Bridges said, ‘and then ‘Crazy Heart,’ that was a dream come true. It inspired me after we did that movie to get a band together and make some more music.”

Jeff Bridges has been on late-night television a lot recently to promote his new movie, “R.I.P.D.,” but he is now on an eight-concert tour with Jeff Bridges & the Abiders.

“The Abiders is a five-piece and we’re all Santa Barbara guys,” Bridges said. “My dear friend Chris Pelonis has put the band together and we produced an album with Michael McDonald about 12-13 years ago, ‘Be Here Soon.’ And after (the 2010 movie) ‘Crazy Heart,’ I asked Chris to wrangle all the top guys in Santa Barbara and he got this really sweet band together.”

Bridges’ daughter Jessie will open the show on the tour.

“I taught her to play guitar when she was a little girl,” Bridges said. “She’s developed into a wonderful songwriter and guitarist-singer. She’s been my assistant on my last three films, so we have been playing a lot of music together.”

The band is recording the concerts from “a couple of tours” for a live album, Bridges said.

Bridges plays a Gretsch guitar, a Country Gentleman first made for Chet Atkins and also used by George Harrison when The Beatles performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

“We looked at a bunch of guitars,” Bridges said. “It was between that and the ‘Tele’ (Fender Telecaster). There was something about that Country Gentleman that just rocked my boat. Just so cool.”

The Tahoe show, Bridges said, “is going to be a mixed-bag set. We’ll have a lot of new material and also stuff from ‘Crazy Heart.’ ”

Bridges also recently collaborated with Burnett on another movie.

“ ‘A Place at the Table’ is all about hunger in America and what we can do about it” Bridges said. “I am a national spokesperson with a group called Share Our Strength (http://www.nokidhungry.org/about-us) that has a campaign that is No Kid Hungry, all about going from state to state, making sure that the governor, business folks and citizens in each state make ending childhood hunger a priority.”

Bridges said it is inaccurate to say he relates to the Dude more than any character he has portrayed.

“I can see myself in all the characters,” he said. “Maybe other people might see me that way more than I do. But that film is certainly close to my heart. I love ‘Lebowski,’ the Dude, and the experience of doing it was really terrific.”

Bridges co-starred with Clint Eastwood in 1974’s “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. Eastwood  has been involved in many jazz projects.

Has Bridges considered a musical project with Eastwood?

“No, never,” he said. “It’s an interesting idea.”

Bridges said he has never performed ormade a movie at Tahoe. But his family had property in Bear Valley and spent some time here.

 Jeff Bridges & the Abiders

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3

Where: Harrah’s Lake Tahoe South Shore Room

Tickets: $34, $54 and $69

For Ticketmaster phone orders, call either 800-745-3000 or 866-448-7849. Tickets are also available via www.SouthShoreRoom.com.

Where else: Harrah’s Reno on Aug. 4

July 27 — Edgewater Casino – Laughlin, Nev.

July 28 — City National Grove of Anaheim

July 30 — Belly Up Tavern – Solana Beach, Calif.

Aug. 2 — Uptown Theatre – Napa, Calif.

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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