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Uncle Kracker's Coming Back

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, June 26, 2009

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The Detroit area’s favorite Uncle is ready for a comeback.

It’s been five years since Uncle Kracker released his third album, 2004’s “Seventy Two and Sunny.” During that time, he’s enjoyed the patronage of country star Kenny Chesney — who featured Uncle Kracker on his chart-topping 2004 hit “When the Sun Goes Down” — and also changed management and record producers. But he hopes to make up for lost time when he releases the long-awaited “Happy Hour” on Sept. 15.

“It’s wonderful,” says Uncle Kracker (real name Matt Shafer), who’s streaming the album’s first single, “Smile” — which he calls “probably the most positive song I’ve ever written” — on his Web site. “I’m just glad to be finished with it — to be finished with it and be happy about it, for that matter.”

Uncle Kracker didn’t plan on taking so long between albums. In fact, he had one ready to go in 2006 but “wasn’t really convinced that I had the right record.” He wound up scrapping that set and went to work in California with producer Rob Cavallo, whose credits include Green Day’s “American Idiot” and Kid Rock’s “Rock N Roll Jesus.”

“It took me out of my comfort zone,” Uncle Kracker, 35, acknowledges. “It took me out of everything I knew and backed me into a corner pretty much.

“Everything just felt different, but I got to a point where I thought different was better for me. I couldn’t be happier, to tell you the truth.”

He also worked on tracks with hitmakers S*A*M & Sluggo (“Hot Mess”) and recorded “Good to Be Me” with Kid Rock, who feels “Happy Hour” is “the best-written record, the best sonically sounding record (Uncle Kracker has) done.”

Uncle Kracker, who lives in Harrison Township with his wife and three children, has been playing several of the new songs, including “Smile,” live, and he hopes to roll out even more of “Happy Hour” at this weekend’s Stars & Stripes Festival in Mt. Clemens.

“It’s a pop-rock record, still with a little country (and) soul fused through it — not a big departure from anything I’ve done before,” he promises. “There’s more uptempo than there is on my last three records, which I think people will like. I’m pretty stoked about it. I can’t wait to get it out there.”

Then, he adds with a laugh, “I think it’s about time, y’know?”

Uncle Kracker performs at 10:30 p.m. Saturday (June 28)on the Budweiser National Main State at the Stars & Stripes Festival in downtown Mount Clemens. The event is free. Festival hours are 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday (June 26-27) and 11-10 Sunday (June 28). Parking and shuttles are available from the Gibraltar Trade Center and the Mount Clemens Ice Arena. Visit www.starsandstripesfest.com for information.

Web Site: www.starsandstripesfestival.com

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