MARQUETTE - Jeff Daniels managed to sum up the entire population of the Upper Peninsula with just six words.
"You people do cold really well," the actor and musician said before a full house at Kaufman Auditorium in Marquette Friday evening as outside temperatures hovered around zero.
Wearing a sweatshirt, jeans and hat, Daniels was accompanied on stage by only his guitar and a row of other acoustic instruments. The stark setup complemented his down-to-earth songs.
He started off the night with a tune called "Marquette on a Friday Night" then continued with a song aptly titled, "Opening Song," in which he described the difficulties of being famous.
"You would think in New York City that they could, you know, handle well-known people. I was in a taxi cab and the cab driver looked in the rear view mirror, looked back at me and said 'You're him aren't you?' I said, 'That's right.' He said, 'What's the name of that movie you were in I hated?'"
Making a tour through the U.P., Daniels joked about a lonely stretch of highway he encountered after doing a show at the Erickson Center for the Arts in Curtis on Thursday - the Seney stretch, an infamous, perfectly straight, 30-mile run on M-28 between Shingleton and Seney.
"I haven't been stoned in a long time. For those of you who don't get stoned or don't smoke marijuana or do pills or hallucinogenics or never have any, just go down the Seney stretch. That's a lot what it's like. It's just traveling down this funnel of time. Driving the Seney stretch is like driving through North Dakota twice," he said.
Daniels is familiar with the U.P. His wife of 30 years, the former Kathleen Treado, lived in the Marquette area as a child and Daniels has visited the area many times.
One of the songs he sang Friday, "State Trooper," described the time he was pulled over by a Michigan State Police trooper outside Munising for, according to the song, "going 102 in a 55." To be fair, Daniels said he was trying to catch up to his friend, who was going even faster.
Big Bay resident Jim Bourgeois first saw Daniels in concert several years ago.
"I really enjoyed the concert and thought I'd come back again ... I bought his CD when I was here last time. He's got some pretty funny stuff," he said.
Bourgeois said Daniels' connection with the area added something else to the concert.
"I know he has a song about the Lumberjack Tavern. My dad owns the Lumberjack Tavern in Big Bay so it's kind of neat with that connection there," he said.
Rob Shirling of Marquette hadn't heard Daniels' songs before. He was more familiar with the plays Daniels has written.
"He throws a comedic timing in with some realism of the region in some of his plays that lends itself to the kind of comedy and the kind of theater that I enjoy doing," he said.
Daniels is the star of blockbusters like "Speed" and "Dumb and Dumber," as well as such critically acclaimed films as "Gettysburg," "Terms of Endearment," and "The Squid and the Whale."
He has written, directed and starred in two films by Purple Rose Films, each set in Michigan - "Escanaba in da Moonlight" and "Super Sucker."