Jeff Bridges. (photo: Danny Clinch)
So Jeff Bridges — the Jeff Bridges, Academy-Award winning actor known for his roles in films like Crazy Heart, The Big Lebowski, True Grit, Tron and Tron: Legacy, The Fisher King, Iron Man, The Giver, The Last Picture Show, Starman, and an absurd amount of other great films — is also a photographer, author, and musician, and is playing a concert at Freight & Salvage.
While that’s awesome in and of itself, the concert is also a benefit for the Berkeley Rose School, and Jeff’s daughter Jessie Bridges will be opening the concert. The Bay Bridged had a chance to speak with Jeff (because c’mon, how do you turn down an interview offer from Jeff Bridges?) as well as Berkeley Rose School Faculty Chair/Admissions Director Judith Wares.
Jeff Bridges: Hey Michael!
The Bay Bridged: Hey Jeff! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. How did you get involved with the Berkeley Rose School?
JB: Well my granddaughter attends the school, and my wife and I visited, and we were just so impressed with it. We heard they wanted to expand, wanted help getting enrollment up, so we decided to put on this concert.
TBB: That’s great. What do you like about the school?
JB: I like that their focus is on community. That’s a very potent word I think, and it kind of manifests itself at the school that from first through eighth grade, the kids are in the same class with the same teacher, the same classmates, and it really helps them build relationships.
TBB: Oh, that’s cool.
JB: Yeah. And it’s really about allowing the kid to be a kid for a long time. You don’t want to bring the cake out of the oven too soon, you know? You want to let them experience childhood as long as they can. The impulse to cram adulthood down kids’ brains because parents are concerned about competition, teaching kids about computers when they’re three, doing long division too early, that’s not what this school does. They’re (the school) not against technology, but there are “seasons” for things, you know? The kids need to be kids for as as they can.
TBB: That makes sense. I was reading about alumni of Waldorf education, the kind of teaching they do at Berkeley Rose School, and there were plenty of artist types like you might expect: Y’know, actors, musicians, architects, and others. But there were also CEOs, prime ministers, scientists, people who you’d think would benefit from just cramming information in their brains. They still got the tools they needed to accomplish whatever their goals were.
TBB: So I see in the photo you’ve got a beautiful red Gretsch guitar. Is that what you’ll be playing at the concert?
JB: No, we’re going to be doing an acoustic thing, I’ll be playing a J45, that’s what I’ve settled on for acoustic. We’ll be doing stuff from the film Crazy Heart, and we’ll play songs from, what have we done, three albums now? We did a live album recently with The Abiders, that’s my band. The show will be a duo with Chris Pelonis, my musical director, two acoustic guitars.
TBB: Cool, and your daughter Jessie Bridges is opening the show.
JB: Yeah, that’s the cherry on top of the sundae for me, I get to see her play! She’s great, and she has her stuff on iTunes, she’s got videos online.
TBB: Did you have a lot of music in the house as your children grew up?
JB: Yeah! Yeah, we sure did, and we’ve been on the road together, we’ve played concerts together, it’s been great.
TBB: I really enjoyed Sleeping Tapes, I don’t suppose you guys will play anything from that?
JB: Haha, well, you never know, probably not. We actually did a performance of one of those tunes in Brooklyn, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, with an orchestra and everything.
TBB: Oh wow, that must’ve been fun. Any plans for more concerts soon?
JB: Nothing in the works right now, we’ll see what happens.
TBB: Well thank you so much for talking to us, looking forward to the show!
JB: Yeah, thanks, it’ll be a good time!
Next, Judith Wares from Berkeley Rose School:
TBB: Hey Judith, thanks for speaking with me. Tell me about Berkeley Rose School and their approach to education.
Judith Wares: Well, the good one-line introduction to our teaching style is that our task as teachers is to light the fire of inspiration, to build enthusiasm for learning rather than fill a person with data. We want children to speak with their own voice, and have their own experiences.
TBB: That’s interesting. How long have you been with Berkeley Rose School?
JW: Well I’ve been involved with Waldorf education for about forty years, and I’ve been at Berkeley Rose School for five years.
TBB: Oh wow. What is Waldorf education, how did it start?
JW: Waldorf education is about 100 years old, started by a scientist named Rudolf Steiner. In Austria, Steiner saw some of the horrible things happening in the early 20th century and thought that society needed a new social order. So he created a system to educate the head, the heart, and the hands.
TBB: I ask because it seems especially good for education today. With the internet, facts and data aren’t as important to learn, since we can look up anything at anytime with the phones in our pockets. What seems necessary now is knowing what to do with that information, how to analyze, how to decide what’s important.
JW: Exactly, and engaging the imagination, giving room for imagination, that’s how to educate people to become problem solvers.
TBB: Sounds like a great school. Looking forward to the event, thank you so much for speaking to me!
JW: Thank you!
An Evening of Music and Conversation with Jeff Bridges
Freight & Salvage
April 15, 2016