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Of the Oakland Press

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As if there was any great concern, the Barenaked Ladies promise to have clothes on when the band plays at the North American International Auto Show Charity Preview.

“Yeah, we’ll just put ourselves in penguin suits or something,” notes bassist Jim Creeggan.

Playing the preview is part of a long history the Canadian group — a longtime Detroit favorite whose latest album and DVD, “Talk to Hand: Live in Michigan,” was taped in June at DTE Energy Music Theatre — has of playing special events and private or corporate gigs. But Creeggan, 37, says this is a bit different than the norm.

“When we do an event, it’s usually just for the workers,” he explains. “This one has been made public. And it’s going to a good cause and stuff, so we’re looking forward to it.”

The irony for Creeggan is that he’s not an auto show kind of guy.

“I don’t even own a car,” he says with a laugh, adding that guitarist Ed Robertson is BNL’s resident gearhead who, if he had a million dollars, might just spend it on something with four wheels. “I’m sure he’ll go around and look at the cars and everything,” Creeggan says. “Not me.”

The preview does serve as a bit of a respite for BNL’s next project — a children’s album that’s due out this spring. The group, which formed in 1988 in Toronto, has been working on the album in its hometown with producer Michael Phillip, who worked with the band on its 1992 debut “Gordon,” which featured the enduring hit “If I Had $1000000,” and 1996’s “Born on a Pirate Ship.”

Creeggan describes the effort as “shorter tunes — a lot of short songs, and all awesome. We wrote just as hard for these as we did for any other record, but you have to think from a kids’ perspective. You have to really refine it so it’s palatable to them — and also fun.”

Among the songs slated for the as-yetuntitled record, which will be released on BNL’s own Desperation Records label, are “Popcorn,” “Here Comes the Geese,” “Humongous Tree” and “Polywog in a Bog.” “We’re bringing back that word ‘polywog,’ ” Creeggan says. “I think tadpole has trumped it for far too long.”

The bassist says the impetus for the album came from BNL’s own family circumstances.

“In some ways, it’s now or never, ’cause our kids are of age,” explains Creeggan, who has two children. “We have 11 kids in total. It seems like our heads are in a good place to do this now.”

It’s not the only music BNL plans to produce for 2008, however. Creeggan says the group plans to hit the studio again in the spring for the follow-up to this year’s “Barenaked Ladies Are Men.”

“I think a couple of the guys have got some things up their sleeves,” Creeggan says. “We’ll take a lot of writing time, a couple months to flesh out some ideas in January and February, and around March, we’ll start (recording).”

He expects a late summer or fall release, to be followed by a tour.

Amidst all this, BNL will be hosting its Ships & Dip III cruise from Jan. 27-Feb. 1. The group skipped the second voyage “to avoid the kind of ‘second album blues,’ ” Creeggan notes, but is ready to set sail for another trip that will also include music friends like Sarah Harmer, members of Guster and former BNL keyboardist Andy Creeggan, Jim’s brother.

“The first time we were a little nervous about it,” Creeggan admits. “We had no idea what it would be like to be with our fans for four days in one space like that. Usually, we do the show, sign some autographs, move onto the next town. In this situation, we’re living with them.

“It actually turned out real well. We turned the ship into the kind of music festival we’d want to be part of, and everybody was real cool. So we’re looking forward to doing it again.”

Barenaked Ladies will perform at 9 p.m. Friday (Jan. 18) at Cobo Arena, as part of the North American International Auto Show Charity Preview. To check on remaining ticket availability, call (888) 838-7500 or visit www.naias.com. The group will also perform at 5 p.m. at the invitation-only NAIAS Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.

Web Site: www.naias.com

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