It was Bruce Springsteen meets Kid Rock as Jeff Daniels and the Ben Daniels Band took the stage at the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center (PAC) on Wednesday night.
This father-son duo, which decided to combine forces for a tour, brought a lot of energy to the performance. Every audience member was on their feet clapping along by the final song.
Mostly known for his roles in films such as “Dumb and Dumber,” “Terms of Endearment” and, more recently, “The Martian” and “Steve Jobs,” as well as HBO series “The Newsroom,” actor and playwright Jeff Daniels also has a musical side.
Daniels has six recorded albums and spent the past 12 years playing at well-known venues around the United States, including New York City’s 54 Below and The Barns at Wolf Trap in Virginia.
Clad in loose fitting jeans, a blue collared shirt and a fedora, Jeff Daniels played alongside his son, strumming instruments from an acoustic guitar to a cigar box.
After their first song, Daniels announced, “It wasn’t a trainwreck! Some of you expected that though.”
Daniels brought comedic interlude and commentary about his acting and music careers, adding a more personal vibe to the show.
Mechanical engineering freshman Sam Nelson thought the commentary between songs added to the performance.
“I like his storytelling,” Nelson said. “It made it more personal and there’s more emotion. It sounds homey and more intimate.”
Throughout the night, Daniels and his son played songs from Jeff Daniels’ most recent album Days Like These.
With each song, Daniels showcased not only his talent and love for music, but his son’s and the band’s talent as well.
Amanda Merte, vocalist for Ben Daniels Band, sang solo at one point with Jeff Daniels on guitar, giving her the spotlight for a moment.
Wesley Fritzemeier, who played drums, mandolin and violin, also busted out his classical violinist ability in a stand-out performance backed by the band.
Though Jeff Daniels may have been the reason the PAC was almost full, giving other band members moments in the spotlight added variety and entertainment.
After a short intermission, it was solely the Ben Daniels Band that returned to the stage, playing two final songs.
The band’s folky, classic rock vibe was cohesive with the overall sound of the show.
The Ben Daniels Band members include Tommy Reifel on bass, George Merkel on guitar, Fritzemeier on drums and mandolin, Merte on vocals and Ben Daniels on guitar and vocals.
The show came full circle when Jeff Daniels came back on after the Ben Daniels Band. By the final song, the patriarch invited his whole family on stage for a song called “The Big Bay Shuffle,” affectionately named after Greenbay, Michigan. As he played, they danced and the rest of the audience couldn’t help but dance too.
Industrial engineering freshman Spencer Grenley was floored by the performance.
“He’s blown me away,” Grenley said. “It’s been a great experience.”