The Bacon Brothers and their band returned to the Colonial Theatre on the evening of Sept. 28 to play their 4th fundraiser concert event. Members of the community enjoyed a lively show and supported two great causes by attending the evening’s festivities. Proceeds from the benefit went to both the French and Pickering Creek Conservation Trust (FPCCT) and the Association for Colonial Theatre (ACT).
Composer Michael Bacon and his brother, actor Kevin, took to the stage with their six piece band, and led the way on guitars and vocals. The brothers played a variety of folk, rock and funk music to a very enthusiastic crowd. Both brothers are skilled musicians who played several instruments throughout the show. Kevin switched from guitar to harmonica, to different styles of percussion instruments and drums. Midway through the performance, Michael played a poignantly stirring cello solo, which greatly moved the audience. The crowd also enjoyed humorous anecdotes between the songs.
The Bacons have been performing together for 20 years and play mostly original music.
“We are pretty much a song writing band, which means that we write almost all of our material,” said Michael. “There’s a few covers thrown in. We do some intimate folk acoustic things and also some hard rock things so it’s kind of all over the place.
There are two writers, my brother and I and we have very different styles. There really isn’t a particular sound that the band has. If we had a philosophy it would be, let the song drive the arrangement, rather than make the song fit into our sound.”
Michael said despite their different musical styles, he and Kevin are able to easily collaborate on songwriting because they are brothers.
“There’s definitely a lot of common ground. The fact that we are family and the band is a business… …there’s an underlying trust there as well, that you’re business partners, so that works out really well,” he added.
The evening began with 20 lucky raffle winners attending a “Meet and Greet” with the Bacons, where they were able to take a picture, get autographs and chat for a few minutes with the brothers. There was also a pre and a post Sponsors’ Party held next door in the newly purchased bank building, where ACT has current expansion plans.
Before the concert, a slideshow was featured on the big screen, which included images of conservation work done in the area by the Trust, so attendees were able to see firsthand the efforts of the FPCCT.
This year, the Bacons included a “Tape It Up” contest in the show, via their website, where fans were able to submit a funny or embarrassing story in which they were knocked down in some way but got back up, inspired to keep going, made stronger by the experience. The Bacons then included a verse in their funky song “Tape It Up” based on the winning entry. Winner for the Phoenixville show was Rachel Nielsen.
For decades, the Bacons brothers have had local ties with the Phoenixville community, and have long been supporters of FPCCT and ACT. Michael said they were looking forward to performing, and that playing in Phoenixville is special because of the hometown feel.
“I love Phoenixville. It’s a big part of my childhood. I love the Colonial Theatre, and in the same way that I appreciate the work that the Trust has done. I think turning the Colonial into a nonprofit and keeping it going has had an enormous effect on the town of Phoenixville, which, after the steel mill closed, went through some tough times. It’s just amazing the changes I see. It’s very exciting,” remarked Michael.
“I’m hoping that a lot of money comes in because they are both special organizations that need to keep going and keep doing good work, I’m happy to be a part of that.”
The Bacons’ grandmother and parents had homes near the Pickering Creek in East Pikeland Township, and that his grandmother was the first person to donate land to the FPCCT, which is how the brothers initially got involved with the benefit concert.
Said Michael, “We’ve had a familial relationship with the Trust for many years. When we bought the house from my parents in the ‘80s, it had already been eased with the Trust. I’ve always appreciated their efforts to keep open spaces and beautiful farmland, which I think they’ve done an amazing job with, so I’m a big supporter of theirs.”
Executive director of the Colonial Theatre, Mary Foote, said the theatre was very excited for the Bacons to return and there are many crossover people in the area who enjoy open spaces like the Trust preserves, and also relish the urban culture in downtown Phoenixville, which the Colonial is a big part of.
“The brothers are very generous to come and allow us to use (the concert) as a platform to get wonderful sponsors to help raise proceeds. Our sponsors are just great. It’s just a wonderful way to partner with the open space folks,” Foote said.
“(FPCC board member) Stock Illoway came to us and said this might be a great way to put the connection between urban centers and open space, which to me seems like a natural connection (because) they need to both be healthy to make for a good quality of life. It made sense for us to join them in this fundraiser because we have a beautiful venue to host them, and so it’s been a great partnership over the last five or six years. We are always looking forward to it and enjoy it,” remarked Foote.
Proceeds raised from previous Bacon Brothers fundraiser shows have gone toward renovations within the Colonial.
“Two or three of the prior shows, we tucked the money away and were able to use it as an opportunity (to) match with a grant we were getting, to finish the third floor which was really nice. It’s a screening room and party room, which we use for rentals mostly, but (also for) a little bit of our own programming. This year it’s probably going to go to help in our planning and moving forward with the capital campaign that we are working on for the bank building next door to us that used to be The Phoenix,” said Foote.
FPCCT Conservation director, Pam Brown, said the evening was a success.
“Both the Trust and the Colonial were very happy with the proceeds raised from the concert. We had great sponsor support, sold several hundred tickets and the Bacon Brothers band rocked the house. All in all, it was a fun, high energy, totally successful night for all,” she stated.