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Eight nights of Kid Rock ties a record at DTE

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2013

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Could there be a better, or much more appropriate, time for a bunch of Kid Rock concerts in metro Detroit?

With the city's bankruptcy dominating the news, it seems like a perfect occasion for Detroit's foremost cheerleader to offer a home town morale boost. And the Clarkston resident plans to buoy fans' spirits, with music rather than words, during his $20 Best Night Ever tour's eight-show string at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

"I'm not really gonna touch on it," says Rock (real name Bob Ritchie), 42, whose run ties Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band's 1977 record for the most DTE/Pine Knob shows by one act in a single summer. "I don't think those shows are the platform for it at all. It just want people to have a good time -- it's as simple as that."

But Rock, who operates a charitable foundation and engages in myriad civic sponsorships via his Made In Detroit apparel company, is certainly feeling the area's pain over the issue.

"I don't think people are that surprised with the bankruptcy -- I mean people I know in Michigan," Rock says. "Everywhere else they are. They know Detroit's run-down and it's dangerous and it has political problems, but when they start reading the statistics, that's what they really talk about.

"But I don't think to anybody in the area it's a big shock. We've all known what's going on. It's a blow, but we've been taking blows for years."

And Rock has still been making sure to keep a good face on Detroit during his summer tour of North America. "I guess when I say in 'American Badass' that 'I put Dee-troit city back on the map,' it feels a little different now when I say that," he explains. "We're always propping up Detroit, trying to focus on the good things, and now it's like it's hit rock-bottom. But what you can do, right?"

The upcoming run marks Rock's return to DTE for the first time in three years, following downtown Detroit shows at Ford Field and Comerica Park and his May 2012 fundraiser for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. With the same $20 ticket price he's been charging throughout his summer tour, he calls it "a thank-you to the fans, especially in Detroit who have paid whatever for all the years to go to all these shows in stadiums. Pine Knob is their favorite place to see me play around there, from what I've heard." But he acknowledges a "selfish" motive as well.

"I can get to be home for three weeks," notes Rock, who plans to play "one different song every night" during the run. "And I can drive home and jump in my swimming pool before people even know the show is over." And Rock acknowledges he "probably could've done nine or 10 shows" this summer, but his sense of Motor City music history prevailed. "I'd rather be there together, Kid Rock and Bob Seger sharing (the record)," he says.

Meanwhile, Rock is also reveling in the success of his $20 tickets, the result of a groundbreaking partnership with promoter LiveNation Entertainment in which the two parties are sharing all revenues, and Rock says they've been "beyond transparent" with each other in a manner performers and promoters usually aren't. "You come up with a lot of crazy ideas in this career," he explains. "I've had a few really work now and then, and this is probably one of the biggest ones, if not THE biggest. It's just gone way past our expectations."

Rock says he's already hearing of other bands who are working on similar deals for their shows, while the fan responses have indicated they know how unusual the situation is.

"When the curtain drops and we kick into the first song, you can just feel people are so excited," Rock says. "It's like a, 'Thank you. This is cool. We appreciate it' without me going on and saying, 'How do you like the $20 tickets?' or something. I don't really say any of that (stuff). But you can look...and people's minds are blown and it's just a really, really good feeling all the way around."

The tour is a landmark for Rock in a busy year that's also seen him make guest appearances on new albums by John Fogerty, Sammy Hagar and Buddy Guy as well as play a pair of shows with Seger during March in North Dakota and Minnesota. "I'm sure there's more for us to do," Rock says of the Seger hook-up. Those shows went so great. It was beyond mind-blowing. Hopefully there's something in Michigan we can do before too long." Meanwhile, Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker band will be on the road through September, including an appearance at the Harley Davidson Anniversary Festival on Aug. 31 in Milwaukee, and then spent part of December in Australia with Bon Jovi. Rock will also be part of A Tribute To George Jones on Nov. 22 in Nashville.

He still hopes to record a new version of his breakthrough 1998 album "Devil Without a Cause," while a follow-up to last year's gold-certified "Rebel Soul" will likely begin in earnest in the new year.

"I cut a couple things in the studio before we left which I'm really happy with," Rock says, "and I've got starts on a ton of stuff. But I think it's gonna be next year. We'll take some time off over New Year's, and then when it's dark and gray and cold in Michigan, that's the best excuse to get in the studio."

Kid Rock & Twisted Brown Trucker and ZZ Top perform at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 9-11, 13, 16, 17, 19-20 at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Local Detroit-area bands will open each night, with Citizen Zero on Aug. 9-10. Tickets are sold-out. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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