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Concert Reviews:
Kid Rock surprises fans at BMI Singer-Songwriter Series finale

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Sunday, October 23, 2016

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP -- BMI and CBS Radio's inaugural Singer-Songwriter Series certainly ended on a high note thanks to a couple of hometown heroes.

The four-night festival's finale on Saturday, Oct. 22, was already potent with a lineup that included hitmakers Hunter Hayes and LoCash, as well as hitmaking songwriters Sarah Buxton and Troy Verges. But it was Harrison Township's Uncle Kracker who gave the series an epic moment, bringing longtime pal Kid Rock on stage at the end of his set for a rendition of Rock's 2008 hit "All Summer Long."

Rock popped onto a chair unannounced, to the roof-raising delight of the packed Coyote Joe's crowd -- his appearance, of course, more special because he's not playing any formal concerts in the Detroit metro area this year while he works on a follow-up to his 2015 album "First Kiss." "Not everybody's got a best friend as good as this (guy) here," Kracker, who shares a songwriting credit on "All Summer Long," said. "Not everybody will call you up at nine in the morning and set, 'We gotta write this (song) here...'"

Rock, who spent most of the night hanging in the VIP tent outside the club, chatting with former Detroit Red Wing Dino Ciccarelli and others, told his friend, "Don't get all sentimental. Give the people what they want" before breaking into the song.

The crowd certainly got that -- and then some -- on Saturday. The idea of a songwriter's showcase might conjure images of a quiet, academic environment, but that was hardly the case at Coyote Joe's, which was as rowdy for the night's three stripped-down, unplugged-style sets as it would be for any other shows -- save that the fans did pay attention to the stories the performers told between their songs.

That wasn't Kracker's strong suit, though, as he freely admitted early on. "There's usually a story behind ever song. I just hate telling them," he said before "In A Little While." But Kracker (real name Matt Shafer) and his two accompanists covered all the necessary bases, playing hits and favorites such as "Follow Me," "Good To Be Me," his Kenny Chesney duet "When The Sun Goes Down" and his hit cover of Dobie Gray's "Drift Away." LoCash, meanwhile, reminded the crowd that before they were a recording act in their own right the duo of Chris Lucas and Preston Brust made their mark as songwriters, penning Keith Urban's "You Gonna Fly" and Tim McGraw's "Truck Yeah."

Hayes, Buxton and Verges, meanwhile, closed the night with a long and exhilarating song pull, trading songs and stories in round-robin fashion and usually figuring out how to join in on each other's songs. Hayes -- who still looks much younger than his 25 years, even with facial hair -- came with a bundle of his own hits, of course, including "Storm Warning," "I Want Crazy," "Everybody's Got Somebody But Me," a rendition of "Wanted" fortified by the crowd singing the chorus and his latest single "Yesterday's Song," which Hayes told fans he hard on radio (Detroit's WYCD) for the first time in the car outside "Coyote Joe's" while the trio was talking about what it was going to do on stage.

Buxton and Verges had plenty of familiar to material as well, even if their names aren't quite as familiar to fans. Besides his co-writing credits with Hayes on "Wanted" and "I Want Crazy," Verges delivered songs he collaborated on for Carried Underwood ("Wasted"), Tim McGraw ("Shotgun Rider") and Kip Moore ("Beer Money" and "Running For You"). Buxton, meanwhile, showed off her contributions to Keith Urban ("Put You In A Song"), the Band Perry ("Don't Let Me Be Lonely"), Martina McBride ("Reckless") and others.

"There's a whole lotta 'wow' going on her," Buxton said at one point, which aptly summed up the night. Songwriting can be a staid and exacting process in the actual room or recording studio, but on stage Saturday at Coyote Joe's it made for a special and exuberant night of music.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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