It was one wild promotional blitz. Last week, Renaissance man Jeff Bridges was pinballing through New York City on a jam-packed schedule of personal appearances, touting several diverse projects.
First up: a party celebrating the Blu-ray release of “The Big Lebowski,” his Coen Brothers-helmed cult classic.
Next: attending a Q & A with its original cast at the city’s Lebowski Fest, an annual rendezvous of fans obsessed with his bathrobe-clad stoner character, The Dude.
There also was a new T-shirt – a reboot of Shepard Fairey’s “Obama/ Hope” painting featuring Bridges’ Dude with his watchword underneath: abide.
“I’ve been to a Lebowski Fest before and they’re quite wonderful,” says Bridges of the geeky gathering that began in 2002, and now includes its own book, documentary and London-held parallel, The Dude Abides. “They go on for a couple of days, and people are dressed up like bowling pins and all kinds of different characters from the movie.”
The actor — who won an Oscar for his portrayal of gruff roots-rocking troubadour Bad Blake in “Crazy Heart” — is also promoting his eponymous T-Bone Burnett-produced debut album. The gruff roots-rocking troubadour appears in San Rafael today and Saratoga on Friday.
Bridges’ fascination with music began back in high school, when he picked up his brother Beau’s guitar and started strumming in weekly sessions with his songwriting chum John Goodwin.
Burnett first met Bridges on the “Heaven’s Gate” set, and — after overseeing the “Lebowski” soundtrack — gladly helped assemble the honky-tonk tearjerkers that Bad Blake warbled in “Crazy Heart.”
“This album really comes right out of the success of that film,” says Bridges, 61.
“‘Crazy Heart’ kind of primed the turf, and we were ready to grow some more music out of that. So I called up T-Bone and said ‘Hey, I’ve got some tunes, man — I want to make an album! You want to do it with me?’ And he said sure, so we looked through about 60 or 70 songs that I was considering, and we recorded 17 altogether.”
Three were penned by Bridges, three by his pal Goodwin, and a couple — like the stomping single “What a Little Bit of Love Can Do” — came from the late, great Stephen Bruton, who also worked on “Crazy Heart.”
Bridges’ calm, reassuring voice, heard on TV commercials for Duracell and Hyundai, comfortably fits the loping, twangy material.
“It happens in albums — and movies — if you’re lucky,” says Bridges, who’s also the spokesman for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. “Where the work starts to shape itself, then tell you what it wants. That’s what happened with this record.”
IF YOU GO
Jeff Bridges & The Abiders
Where: Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael
When: 8 p.m. tonight
Tickets: $45 to $75
Where: Mountain Winery, 14831 Pierce Road, Saratoga
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $45 to $85
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com