Daniels, the musician, doesn’t try to pretend that his “other” career doesn’t exist.
“I’m not interested in singing serious love ballads for 90 minutes,” he explains during a phone interview from his home state of Michigan. “Nor does the audience want that. They want the guy they really loved in whatever movie — they want to love him in this setting. So instead of ignoring this huge elephant in the room — the movie career — I use it.”
That works well for him because his set predominately consists of comic riffs, delivered talking-blues-style with monologue-like introductions, about his career and family life.
Daniels’ inherently self-effacing nature — “I’ve never paid any attention to image; that’s something put upon you,” he explains — leads to him poking fun at his own career as a fine actor who’s never been regarded as a movie star. In other words, people he meets sometimes can take him for granted — they don’t feel the need to be awed or overly deferential.
As he relates in the talking-blues song “Here’s a Little Somethin’,” from his 2009 Live at the Purple Rose album: “I was in New York City not too long ago, in a taxicab. The cab driver looked into the rearview mirror, looked back at me and said, ‘You’re him.’ I said, ‘That’s right.’ He said, ‘What’s the name of that movie you were in I hated?’ ”
Jeff Daniels plays the Southgate House Thursday. Go here for tickets and venue details.