This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Coen Brothers’ cult comedy classic “The Big Lebowski” (1998).
Celebrate by jamming with “The Lebowski Experience” at Pearl Street Warehouse in D.C. on Friday at 8 p.m.
“We do this concert every year around the 20th of April, which is an important holiday for ‘Big Lebowski’ fans,” lead performer Christopher Boesen told WTOP. “We’re really excited about this year because so many people are recognizing the importance of this film, which has gone from initially not all that popular to this cult phenomenon.”
The film follows L.A. slacker Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, who is mistaken for a millionaire as he seeks restitution for a rug peed on by debt collectors, all while trying to find the millionaire’s missing wife between frames of bowling.
“I’m old enough to have seen it when it first came out,” said Louis Bayard, who plays Jackie Treehorn. “I’m one of those people who was baffled by it the first time around. I didn’t get it. I loved Jeff Bridges, I loved his character, but it was just so strange. It was kind of like a detective mystery that instead of getting solved, it just generates new mysteries as it goes along. … It kind of took me a while to get that vibe down, but now I’m a big fan.”
Boesen plays The Dude, which has become an alternate persona beyond this annual concert. He recently dressed as The Dude to officiate a wedding at Camden Yards in Baltimore as a “Dudist” priest practicing Dudeism.
“It all started almost accidentally,” Boesen said. “I had stopped getting a haircut. Somebody mentioned that I looked kind of like The Dude. I was in a band with a guy who kind of looked like The Stranger, you know, Sam Elliott. We talked about this as musicians, always trying to find ideas, what do people want to come see at a show? What do people want to hear? So we came up with this idea that we could play the soundtrack to the movie.”
The soundtrack includes Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me,” Kenny Rogers and The First Edition’s “Just Dropped In (to See What Condition My Condition Was In),” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Run Through the Jungle” and “Lookin’ Out My Backdoor,” and the Gypsy Kings’ cover of “Hotel California” by The Eagles, which of course is The Dude’s least favorite band.
“Everybody thinks of Kenny Rogers, Bob Dylan, CCR, but there’s a lot of other really cool but very obscure stuff whether it’s Esquivel or Mussorgsky. It’s actually a very complicated, very intricate soundtrack,” said Boesen.” As The Dude, I’m singing ‘The Man in Me,’ that’s the entrance song for the whole film. … The floor in Pearl Street Warehouse looks just like the floor of the dream sequence where The Dude is in his white outfit like Karl Hungus.”
Best of all, the musicians all dress up like their respective characters from John Goodman’s Walter Sobchak to Julianne Moore’s Maude Lebowski to John Turturro’s The Jesus. Unlike Donny, they’re all “in their element.”
“We said, alright, we’re going to do this in character, we’re going to do it in costume and turn this into both a celebration of the music but also a celebration of the movie and the characters,” Boesen said. “Chris Brown is The Jesus. He’s a great bass player, but he’s up there in this all-purple costume in a hairnet, licking a bowling ball.”
Listen to our full conversation here.
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