5 Questions is a series by Steve Duffy –
In 1976, Jeff Daniels bought a Guild D-40 from Herb David’s Guitar Studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan, threw it in the back of his old Buick, and moved to New York City. That guitar led him to a creative outlet, that became his solace, church, and a road the artist I didn’t know existed.
Since 2000, Jeff has played venues all over the US. He tours with his son’s band, the Ben Daniels Band. He loves sharing the stage with Ben and is honored to be part of it. In 2012, the Martin Guitar Company began selling the OM Jeff Daniels Custom Artist Edition Guitar. He also narrated the award winning documentary, “The Ballad Of The Dreadnought.”
SD: Are you a singing actor or an actor who sings?
JD: I am an actor who sings and plays the guitar. I have always been a singer, but have really been know more for the acting. I use my singing to help raise money for my theatre company, The Purple Rose Theatre, in Chelsea, Michigan. It has also given me the opportunity to tour with my son, Benjamin. We have great fun together on the road.
SD: Who influenced you musically growing up?
JD: I started taking piano lessons in high school, and I was really drawn to Elton John and Arlo Guthrie. Listening to them led me to playing the acoustic guitar. It wasn’t until I got to New York in the late 70’s that I found other musicians that I really enjoyed like Steve Goodman.
SD: What was the first album you bought that really had an impact on you and why?
JD: Tumbleweed Connection by Elton John. The writing for this album is amazing. As a writer, the lyrics really spoke to me. I love the storytelling of a song, that part of being a musician really interests me.
SD: How have your skills as an actor helped in performing as a musician?
JD: Luckily, it is not really a big leap from acting to rocking out on stage with a guitar. As an actor, you learn how to work a crowd, so I don’t fear performing for a live audience. The audience gives you the energy you need to perform and they make the show.
SD: What do you get out of being a musician that you don’t get from acting?
JD: As a musician, I have all the creative control. Along with that control, comes all the blame and all the glory. I love the solidary artistic part of writing and performing my music. When you are working on a film or TV set, you have a bunch of other people in charge of you, on the stage it is just me.