From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Christian Kane returning to Norman for first hometown show
The “Leverage” actor and country music singer-songwriter, who was raised in Norman and attended OU, is finding success on both paths he is taking through the entertainment business.
For more than a decade, Christian Kane has blazed multiple paths through the entertainment business, and this weekend, one of those roads will lead him home.
“It’s my first time to play in Norman. I’ve played in Oklahoma City and a couple of other places in Oklahoma, but I’ve never really played in Norman. So I’m very excited to come back after over 10 years — what, 13 years — of doing music to come and play the hometown,” Kane said in recent phone interview before embarking on his current cross-country tour.
“We have a lot of fans from Oklahoma. I think they’re more country music fans than they are Christian Kane fans, but it’s still lovely to have them. … So it’s gonna be nice to come home and see a lot of them and see some new fans there in Oklahoma. I don’t get to go to Oklahoma that much.”
Kane, 37, doesn’t have much time for homecoming visits these days: His television series “Leverage” recently wrapped the summer portion of its fourth season and was picked up for a fifth. He just topped the CMT video countdown and scored a potential breakout hit with the passionate ballad “Let Me Go.” But he is returning Friday to Norman to play that first hometown concert at Riverwind Casino.
As a bonus, the Dallas-born, Norman-bred singer/songwriter/actor will get the chance to watch the top-ranked University of Oklahoma football team host the University of Missouri Tigers Saturday on the OU campus he attended before leaving Oklahoma to make his way in the entertainment business.
But an Oklahoma State University icon has set the standard for Kane, whether he is playing a country-rock concert with his longtime band or playing a role on the movies or a TV show.
“I’m from the old Garth Brooks school … which is no matter what seat you had, no matter if you were front stage, backstage, anything, I’m still the one that has the most fun. Garth Brooks said that early on, and I took that and put that under my wing. And that’s what we do, honestly, we just try to have the most fun that we can onstage, and I believe that bleeds out into the audience. And if you need to have a good time, you’re gonna have one with us,” he said.
“We actually take that whole Garth Brooks way of thinking into ‘Leverage’ as well. We’re the ones having the best time. We’re having the most fun, and I think that if you’re having the most fun, then it does bleed out of the television and it bleeds out into the living room and it bleeds out onstage. And I think that’s the most important thing.”
Kane got his first acting job on the short-lived TV show “Fame L.A.” because he could sing. He has showed off his talents as a crooner on the series “Angel” and “Leverage.” The crossover between his career paths goes both ways: His “Leverage” co-star Timothy Hutton directed the music video to his first single “The House Rules,” the title track from Kane’s 2010 debut album on the indie Bigger Picture Music Group.
“I’m not quitting either one. That’s the bottom line,” Kane said in the phone interview from Portland, Ore., where “Leverage” films. “I love both of them equally, and that’s my life. I don’t view myself as an actor or a singer, I view myself as an entertainer.”
On “Leverage,” Kane plays “retrieval specialist” Eliot Spencer, the heavy hitter on a five-person team of professional criminals who use their skills to help people victimized by the wealthy, the corrupt and the powerful. Led by former insurance investigator Nathan Ford (Oscar winner Hutton), the team also includes grifter Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman), hacker Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge) and cat burglar Parker (Beth Riesgraf).
Since premiering on TNT in 2008, the caper series has grown its audience in each of its four seasons, earning its fifth-season pickup. The show will wrap up its fourth season with new episodes in November and December, then start its next season in summer 2012.
“Usually you fall down in the fourth season, and our ratings have actually gone up in the fourth season. And that’s just unbelievable,” he said.
“We’re a blue-collar show. We’re a working man’s fist, and I think that actually works out (for us). I mean, how many times do people just want to quit their job or punch their boss? And the economy’s tough right now … and we kind of represent that, we kind of represent the working man getting to throw punches at some people that are the bad guys.”
When it comes to music, Kane recently topped the CMT countdown with the video for his second single, “Let Me Go,” while “The House Rules” again reached the top five on Country Music Television.
“It’s unbelievable, man. And I attribute all that to the Kaniacs. I mean I’ve got the best fans in the world, I really honestly do.” I don’t care who you are, I’ve got the best fans. And I apologize, I mean, that’s just how it goes,” he said, sounding not the least bit sorry.
The video for “Let Me Go” reunited him with Roman White, who also directed Kane in Carrie Underwood’s memorable mini-movie for her hit “So Small.” Filmed on a famed movie set outside East Lancaster, Calif., the desolate setting captured the emotions of the protagonist, who is trying to do the right thing by his girl by letting her go.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t sing songs about (expletive) I don’t know. You’re not gonna hear me sing a song about being on a tractor or being married because it’s just not what I do. I don’t know anything about that stuff. But you will hear me sing songs about love, life, hurt and drinking — and women,” he said.
“Some people think that you have one hit, and that’s it. But it’s not. You gotta keep working your whole life,” he added.
“Every song is a vehicle, we just don’t know where this one’s gonna take us. But hopefully, it’ll take us as far as it can take us, and then you release another one. And you see where that one takes you. So it’s all in the ride.”
When: 8 p.m. Friday.
Where: Riverwind Casino, 1544 W State Highway 9.
Information: 322-6464 or www.riverwind.com.