Kevin Costner and Modern West got together as a band nine years ago. I have been keeping track of their tours, enjoying their music, and waiting for them to play nearby. A month ago I bought the last ticket to their show at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis, Md. As a writer, I am impressed with their lyrics and “Modern West” style. They nail the human condition in phrases like, “Let me be the one who will protect you, not the one who falls behind,” “I got two little kids and a broke down car,” and “She's just livin' for the moment - doesn't know how many more will come.” A long time Costner fan, I had to see the show.
The Draft Day star, a Southern California native, grew up singing in the church choir, winning parts in school productions, and playing the piano and guitar. He met John Coinman in an acting class in the early 1980's. They wrote and played music together and formed the band Roving Boys, with guitarist, Blair Forward. Then Costner's acting career took off. When his wife encouraged him to get back into his music almost a decade ago, he contacted Coinman, who worked on the music in many of his films. Costner wanted to form a band that could write, compose, produce and play their its work. They sought out band members possessing talent and previous musical success.
Several fiddle players join the band when they can, and on this particular night we had a special treat. Lilly Costner, Kevin's daughter, was the opening act. She has a voice I will not soon forget. She covered one of her father's early tunes, “The Porch Song,” and told her audience that when she and her brother were young and their folks went out, they practiced the song all evening. All that practice was evident by her performance.
Oftentimes, when I mention Modern West to people, they say, “I didn't know Kevin Costner had a band.” My thought is always that I need to get them to come to Pittsburgh. Steeler fans would love the band's genuine, strong, heartfelt, fun songs, “Alive in the City,” “Let Me Be the One,” “Cleo's at the Wheel,” and “We're the Lucky Ones”and get behind them like no other fans can.
Annapolis is one of my favorite cities, so I really looked forward to seeing Kevin Costner and Modern West there. I requested and got approval for a meeting with Costner for this article. As Lilly sang, I spoke with John Coinman in the lobby and then, Costner, on his tour bus. When I met his public relations agent in the lobby, two others joined us, Bonnie and Eric, who had won a “Meet & Greet” with Costner from a Facebook contest. A few minutes later, Bonnie, Eric and I were ushered onto Costner's bus. Costner stood smiling in the aisle. I shook his hand, introduced myself, and thank him for his time and for making music. We chatted, and Glenn Miller, the Rams Head photographer, took photos, as did Eric. I had a new camera which I had not learned how to use yet. “Push the button,” Costner told me. Oh, the memories! Costner was as I expected a man interested in history, acting and music to be; funny, humble, intelligent, talented, pleasant and patient. We left the bus just before his appearance onstage. Before we departed I gifted him my Speedway Book collection and Bonnie gave him a handful of guitar picks. It was a moment I thank him for.
But on with the concert! Seating only 300, Rams Head On Stage offers a wonderfully intimate concert experience. Although the band does play large venues, Costner enjoys playing in smaller clubs so he can share the music and interact with fans. At my table sat with six women, including me. One was having a birthday, and three brought a banner that said, “Let us be your Bodyguard.” Having told Coinman about the banner earlier, I helped them hold it up throughout the show. During the concert, I was able to stand and dance. Costner twice asked the management to turn on the lights so he could see the audience. He talked to the audience and made everyone laugh countless times. Then he said, “I hope you don't mind if I sing a song with my daughter. She is here on her own. Won't hear of taking help. Tended bar. Does this on her own. I am proud of her.” And so are we, his fans, and now hers. At the end of the evening, the band covered “Mr. Tambourine Man,” during which time he asked us to stand, stretch, and sing along. We did. This is one fun band.
Having worked in Annapolis at Spin Sheet Magazine, I was familiar with the lodging and made a reservation at the Scotlaur Inn. It is one block from Ram's Head and above one of my favorite diners, Chick & Ruth's Delly. I went into the tavern after the show and listened to more live music while enjoying a Fordham Baltimore beer. As I headed out the doors to the street, Costner's buses started up, and I gave thanks for a memorable tax day. "If you are a Kevin Costner fan, you will love his band. "Like" them at www.facebook.com/kevincostnerandmodernwest ~ Mention this article and ask him to come to Pittsburgh!"
Listen to Kevin Costner and Modern West and check their schedule at:
www.kevincostnermodernwest.com . Like them at: www.facebook.com/kevincostnerandmodernwest
Marci McGuinness is the author of 31 books and hundreds of articles. She resides on the Monongahela River in Southwestern Pennsylvania, specializing in local history early board-track racing, and murder mysteries. www.uniontownspeedway.com ~ www.facebook.com/marcimcguinness