Kevin Costner said he will never forget the song that introduced him to rock ’n’ roll.
“I must have been about 13, and I was walking to the woods to go hunting,” Costner said in an interview with the Sun Herald. “I heard this song coming out of a garage and this band was playing it, and I thought, ‘This is a great song.’ Well, the song was ‘Born to Be Wild.’ I’ve always just felt that I have an ear for music.”
Costner is one of the most prolific actors-directors in the film industry — his credits include the Academy Award–winning “Dances With Wolves” as well as turns as Jonathan Kent in both “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” — but he also is an accomplished musician with his band Kevin Costner and Modern West.
He will bring Modern West to the Brownstone Center For The Arts on the campus of Pearl River Community College in Poplarville at 7 p.m. Friday. Tickets start at $40.
It is the first time Modern West has performed in South Mississippi since a 2012 appearance at the Sun and Sand Film Festival at Jones Park in Gulfport.
Modern West, an Americana rock band with flourishes of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, has released four albums since 2008.
Love is but a song we sing
Costner said he developed a passion for songwriting when he heard a 1967 recording of a Chet Powers song by The Youngbloods.
“ ‘Get Together’ just went a little bit deeper for me, and I had never thought about songs uniting,” he said. “I had thought about them for dancing and could you make out to them. I also like The Beatles, because I don’t think anyone ever wrote about young love the way they did — I grew up in such a wonderful time for music with The Doors and Carole King and James Taylor and Cream — I just loved it.”
Costner said he has an ear for music in a way that allows him to visualize images through sound.
“When I’m working on a film, I often hear music as I’m shooting the film,” he said. “I did this for ‘Famous for Killing Each Other,’ which I wrote while I was working on ‘Hatfields and McCoys,’ but it’s not the soundtrack to the series.”
He said he also has an ear for what songs work well with films.
“When I was shooting ‘No Way Out,’ I told them that they should use the Fine Young Cannibals’ version of ‘Suspicious Minds’ on the soundtrack and they didn’t do it,” he said. “They should have listened to me because I brought the Dolly Parton song (‘I Will Always Love You’) to ‘The Bodyguard’ people and that worked out pretty well for them.”
A late bloomer
Although he was taught piano by his grandmother and was later classically trained, Costner said he didn’t get his first guitar until about 12 years ago.
“When I started to create a band to play music — my wife had pushed me a little bit, which was about two years before I actually made the move — I decided to call John Coinman, who I had played with before, and we decided to try it again,” Costner said. “There was never any plan to tour and do all of the things we are doing.”
With Costner living in Santa Barbara, Calif., and the rest of his band spread throughout the nation, he said finding the time to record can be difficult.
“We did most of the recording for the last album here in Santa Barbara,” he said. “The rest of the guys do music singularly, and I have about 15 things going on so I try to do it between the raindrops of my life.”
If you go
What: Kevin Costner and Modern West
Where: Brownstone Center for the Arts on the campus of Pearl River Community College in Poplarville
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26
Tickets: start at $40 and are available at prcc.edu/brownstone