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‘The Dude’ rocks Laxson Auditorium

Trevor Whitney

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Jeff Bridges performs with his band the Abiders and his daughter Jessie Bridges during the encore on Saturday night at Laxson Auditorium. Bridges welcomes his cult following for his role as “The Dude” in the movie “The Big Lebowski” and made references to it during the show. Photo credit: George Johnston

Even after Jeff Bridges won an Academy Award for his performance in “Crazy Heart,” played Robert Downey Jr.’s villainous counterpart in “Iron Man” and delivered the performance of his life in “Fearless,” he is still most well known as Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski to his fans. And he fully embraces it.

The first thing he said as he casually picked up his guitar and faced the Laxson Auditorium audience Saturday night was, “Hey, we got two rugs up here to really tie the room together,” a reference to the 1998 cult classic film, “The Big Lebowski.”

He also looked the part from head to toe and was sipping from a cup that one can only assume contained a white Russian.

Bridges’ daughter, singer-songwriter Jessie Bridges, opened the show with an honest, short set that featured her on vocals and acoustic guitar alongside a pedal steel guitarist.

Jeff Bridges credits his father, actor Lloyd Bridges, with his acting success. Lloyd Bridges actually steered him away from his teenage dreams of being a musician to pursue acting, Jeff Bridges said.

It’s empowering to see somebody so immersed in success and be such a “Dude” at the same time. Jeff Bridges took a break after every two or three songs to tell a story, make a comment or talk about his band, the Abiders.

Each band member received a lengthy introduction and truly just seemed to be one of the guys.

“And my name’s Chris, by the way,” the Abiders’ lead guitarist, Chris Pelonis, said after Jeff Bridges forgot to mention it.

“I’m sorry man. Spaced that right out,”Jeff Bridges said.

Pelonis said he met Jeff Bridges when the actor hired his studio design company to build his home studio.

“We just became friends from then on,” Pelonis said. “I’ve since recorded and mixed a live album with him, done photography and of course we’ve been on tour. It’s been awesome, really.”

After the Abiders’ thorough introductions, Bridges added: “Oh yeah, and one more thing. You know what I found out today? People may think ‘The Dude’ isn’t schooled, but that’s not true. There’s actually a Jeff Lebowski in the audience tonight and he’s a neurosurgeon! Where are ya, Jeff?”

The real Lebowski wasn’t pleased to stand up, but he did so with a look on his face that said, “I’ve never heard that one before.”

The show concluded with a few of Jeff Bridges’ favorite cover songs and some originals from 2009’s “Crazy Heart.”

The music was outstanding, and one line stood out in particular: “Pick up your crazy heart. Give it one more try.”

Trevor Whitney can be reached at [email protected] or @nicegrandmas on Twitter.

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‘The Dude’ rocks Laxson Auditorium