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Kiefer Sutherland, Singer-Songwriter, Makes Success Out of Heartbreak on his ‘Not Enough Whiskey’ Tour

Songs Tell The Story of This Second-Generation Actor

By DONNA BALANCIA

Kiefer Sutherland took guitar in hand and hit the Southern California stages last week, moving from Stagecoach to the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood to the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.  And it’s clear he’s a hit.

It’s the “Not Enough Whiskey Tour,” but it should be called the “Not Enough Kiefer Tour” instead.  The fans love this guy, whether the multi-talented actor-turned-musician is a bully, a vampire, or a country singer-songwriter. The tour continues throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Kiefer Sutherland at The Roxy - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Kiefer Sutherland at The Roxy – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

‘Down In a Hole’

Kiefer is out promoting his new album, Down In a Hole, a solid collection of tunes that all ages can relate to as they take some new turns on well-traveled country roads.

Kiefer’s music is smooth and rough at the same time, just like the song “Not Enough Whiskey” after which he named the tour he’s taking around North America and abroad. And maybe it’s reflective of his life as an actor, always summoning emotions for the character you portray and not having a chance to delve into your own. Well he’s delving now.

Kiefer’s songwriting is the strongest part of this act. In cases like this, we generally hold actors to a different standard than musicians, but if a performance draws the crowd and makes the ticket-holders happy, we’re in favor of it.  He’s vulnerable and real and the crowd loves it.

Kiefer and his band are on a worldwide tour – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Warm Stage Presence

Kiefer is no Johnny Cash or Elton John, two of his admitted favorites musicians, mainly because his voice needs a little work, but he’s on to something here with his songwriting and warm stage presence.  The fans seem overwhelmed by him and his music, and they sing along with every word as he plays.  Not only that, it appears the people come from near and far to see him, as at The Roxy there were Kiefer fans who came from as far away as inland California.

“My mom came with us tonight because she loves him too,” said Jared Scoville from Temecula. “My mom doesn’t go out too much because she’s older and she can’t walk that well, but we got in the truck and came here because she loves Kiefer’s music.”

From Vampires to Bad Boys and Beyond

Kiefer, who’s played everything from bad boy vampire to Jack Bauer on 24, has had the luxury of growing up in a creative household — his mother is actress Shirley Douglas and his father is actor Donald Sutherland.  The elder Sutherland has a prolific body of work and is known for his quirky roles. He’s perhaps best loved for his portrayal of World War II tank officer “Oddball” in the 5-star Clint Eastwood film Kelly’s Heroes.

And normally we would assume, like everyone else, that this actors’ kid has had an easy time of it, inheriting all the connections and good fortune from his famous parents. Instead, it’s been a different path for Kiefer, who’s had limited guidance from his family and has really gone out on his own.  He’s even been a rodeo competitor and started a record label.

Kiefer Sutherland tours to promote 'Down In a Hole' - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Kiefer Sutherland tours to promote ‘Down In a Hole’ – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

No Cryin’ Cowboys Here

The new album, Down In a Hole, is a real departure from what we might expect from the rough and tumble millionaire actor.  The music is reflective and somber. As they say, if you’ve just broken up with someone, don’t listen to country music because it could only make you feel more sad.  Nobody likes a crying cowboy.  Kiefer doesn’t exactly cry, but it’s apparent he’s had his share of heartbreak.

The writing of these songs and Kiefer’s expression of these long-suppressed feelings is “cathartic” as he said in a recent interview with CaliforniaRocker.com

Rick Brantley opened the evening with some down-home songs – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Kiefer and The Crowd

Well the songs may be “cathartic” for Kiefer, but the performances of those songs to packed Southern California crowds is nothing short of remarkable. His shows at the crowded Stagecoach, and packed houses at the Roxy and Great American Music Hall show Kiefer really connect. I don’t care how good an actor you may be, but hitting the stage with a guitar and putting your vulnerability out there for the world to see at a live performance venue takes guts.  Particularly for a TV and film actor, who is used to having a director of photography shoot his best side, having a director do another take just so the actor can look good or having an editor use a more flattering scene.

Kiefer at The Roxy – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

New Chapter for Kiefer

Kiefer is having fun and the emotional songs like “I’ll Do Anything,” and “Not Enough Whiskey”  do reflect on some of the mistakes he’s made in life. Regardless, we could all take a page from  Kiefer’s book.  He’s taken his heartbreak and long-buried emotions and turned them into performances that please the masses.

And he says he’s still working out his issues, which is good for the fans: He’s got some new songs on the way.

Video courtesy of Christopher Pack

Kiefer Sutherland Plays Stagecoach, LA and SF, Says He’s Grateful to the Fans for Support of Tour, Album

Sutherland and His Music Break the Actor’s Mold

By DONNA BALANCIA

Kiefer Sutherland told journalists he was honored that the California audiences have accepted him and that writing music presents him with new challenges he enjoys.

“I live in Los Angeles and we would play everywhere but Los Angeles, we would play south of here, so this is for me, where it started,” Sutherland said on a conference call with California Rocker and others.

“I can’t say how generous and kind the audiences have been,” he said. “With regard to playing something like Stagecoach, we were so thrilled to have been invited –when you take a look at the acts, to be given an opportunity to play for an hour or 45 minutes it’s a real privilege so for that we’re just grateful for the opportunity.”

Photo by Beth Elliott

He said he is looking forward to playing Stagecoach on Sunday, The Roxy on May 3 and Northern California’s Great American Music Hall on May 4. His new album is called Down In A Hole. 

“To play the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, that gets to be a special thing,” he said. “It’s an intimate experience. What I’ve enjoyed the most is at the end of a show whatever preconceived notions I have about the audience or what they think about me, we have more in common than what they think. That started here in California and I’ll be grateful for that.”

Sutherland, known for his role on Designated Survivor and the Fox series 24 said he had shaky times starting out on tour and he’s learned a lot.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is I won’t quit,” he said. “The first few shows it was not easy. I had to force myself to get out there and do it, I think I was very nervous and did not know what the outcome was going to be. But I pushed through it and that’s what I’ve done all my life. Then I got to a place where I really enjoyed it and I can’t say enough about the audiences we’ve played to for the last year and a half.”

Sutherland is “well into the second record,” he said, adding that his family — including his father Donald Sutherland — may want not be delighted with how they’re portrayed. But it’s all fodder for stories, he says, and he’s delighted about touring. Even though he’s been in scores of movies and on TV, he said performing is the latest bug he’s got.

“It became one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done,” he said. “It required me to open up like I never have before. At the beginning I doubt anything ever made me that scared in the first few shows I’ve played, like 20.

“It’s become a whole new way for me to partake in telling a story and that’s what’s the driving force and what excites me about working as an actor as well. There’s something about the excitement and the newness of it. I now approach Designated Survivor with a new enthusiasm I haven’t before.”

Sutherland, whose music leans towards the country genre pretty heavily said he expected he would be able to use his acting in his music but he was wrong.

Kiefer Sutherland will do a California swing as part of his tour – Photo by Beth Elliott

“I thought I was going to be able to use 30 years as an actor certainly to help me on stage but I was wrong,” he said. “For 30 years I was able to work as an actor and have a character and when I go on stage with the music the songs are personal and they’re mine and I leave myself in a more open position than ever before.”

“In both circumstances I’m telling stories and that seems to be the part of it I like the most.”

Sutherland, known for his starring role in the ABC series “Designated Survivor” and Fox series “24,” also starred in movies like “Stand By Me,” “The Lost Boys,” “Young Guns,” “Flatliners,” “A Few Good Men,” “A Time to Kill,” “Dark City” “Melancholia” and most recently, a western called “Forsaken.”

April 30 Stagecoach Festival – Indio, Calif.

May 02 Belly Up – Solana Beach, Calif. (SOLD OUT)

May 03 Roxy Theatre – Los Angeles, Calif.

May 04 Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, Calif.

May 06 Mississippi Studios – Portland, Ore. (SOLD OUT)

May 07 Tractor Tavern – Seattle, Wash. (SOLD OUT)

May 09 Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, Utah

May 10 Fox Theatre – Boulder, Colo.

May 12 Choctaw Event Center – Grant, Okla.

May 13 3Ten – Austin, Texas

May 14 Gruene Hall – Houston, Texas (SOLD OUT)

May 17 Terminal West – Atlanta, Ga.

May 18 Singin’ River Live – Florence, Ala.

May 19 Exit / In – Nashville, Tenn.

May 20 Fubar – St. Louis, Mo.

May 21 Thalia Hall – Chicago, Ill.

May 23 The Birchmere – Alexandria, Va. (SOLD OUT)

May 25 Bowery Ballroom – New York, N.Y.

May 26 Stephen Talkhouse – Amagansett, N.Y. (SOLD OUT)

May 27 The Stone Pony – Asbury Park, N.J.

June 01 Skraen – Aalborg, Denmark

June 03 Rockefeller – Oslo, Norway

June 04 Debaser Strand – Stockholm, Sweden

June 06 Mojo – Hamburg, Germany

June 07 Heimathafen – Berlin, Germany

June 08 Technikum – Munich, Germany

June 10 WUK – Vienna, Austria

June 12 Gloria – Cologne, Germany

June 13 Gibson – Frankfurt Am Main, Germany

June 14 La Cigale – Paris, France

June 16 013 – Tilburg, Netherlands

June 17 Melkweg – Amsterdam, Netherlands

June 18 Rockhal – Esch-Sur-Alzette, Luxembourg

June 20 Bierkeller – Bristol, UK

June 21 Worthy Farm – Pilton-Somerset, UK

June 21 O2 Academy – Birmingham, UK

June 22 Islington Assembly Hall – London, UK

June 23 Trucker & Country – Interlaken, Switzerland

June 25 Glastonbury Festival – Pilton-Somerset, UK

June 26 Manchester Gorilla – Manchester, UK (SOLD OUT)

June 27 SWG3 – Glasgow, United Kingdom

Aug. 11 Boots & Hearts Festival – Oro-Medonte, Canada

Sept. 23 Bourbon & Beyond Festival – Louisville, Ky.

DOWN IN A HOLE TRACK LISTING:

  1. Can’t Stay Away
  2. Truth In Your Eyes
  3. I’ll Do Anything
  4. Not Enough Whiskey
  5. Going Home
  6. Calling Out Your Name
  7. My Best Friend
  8. Shirley Jean
  9. All She Wrote
  10. Down In A Hole
  11. Gonna Die
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