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Kracker Happy To Be Kenny Chesney's Favorite Uncle

Of the Oakland Press

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Kenny Chesney has some uncles in his family tree. But he’s never had a No. 1 single with any of them.

That distinction is reserved for Detroit’s Uncle Kracker, who joined Chesney at the top of the Billboard country charts in 2004 with their duet “When the Sun Goes Down,” which was also a Top 30 hit on the pop charts.

Since then, the former Kid Rock sidekick and Chesney have been practically inseparable, especially when the latter goes on tour. Kracker is on the road with Chesney this summer, too, appearing as a special guest during the encore to sing “When the Sun Goes Down” and his own chart-topping remake of Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away.”

“I think it’s the same audience, almost,” says Kracker, 32, a Mount Clemens native whose real name is Matt Shafer. “It’s a lot of college kids, a lot of (women), a lot of the female thing happening. My demographic is mainly female, 18-26 — that’s, like, the pop market, anyway.

“All I know is that every time I come out, they know every word. It works.”

Kracker and Chesney have become good friends, too. They’ve exchanged lavish gifts — a car for Kracker, a bejeweled Rolex watch for Chesney — and Kracker and his wife, Melanie, have spent time with Chesney at his Caribbean beach house.

Kracker, who plans to release his fourth album in 2007, also had a start-to-fi nish front-row seat for Chesney’s romance with and brief mar riage to actress Renée Zellweger.

“I feel bad for them — nobody likes breakups, y’know?” he says. “When I saw ’em, they were defi - nitely in love. My whole take on it is everything’s cool for a minute. Everybody’s good for awhile, and they were really good for a little while. But if you can’t make it work, you can’t make it work. That happens sometimes.”


The annual Downtown Hoedown was held three months ago, but the Motor City gets its twang on again Saturday (August 26th) when country music fills the air in downtown three locations. Put your hat and boots on and check out any of these festivities:

* Kenny Chesney (with special guest Uncle Kracker), Gretchen Wilson, Dierks Bentley, Carrie Underwood, Blaine Larsen and Jake Owen perform at 4:30 p.m. at Ford Field. Tickets are $81 and $68.50. Call (313) 262-2000 or visit www.fordfield.com.

* WYCD-FM (99.5) hosts a Beach Bash before the show starting at 11 a.m. in Ford Field's Lot 4. The national band the Lost Trailers perform at 1:30 p.m., bookended by local acts Sarah Lenore, Redhill, the Hunter Brucks Band and Wildfire, which will perform a Jimmy Buffett tribute set. Admission is free.

* Five more local acts -- the Wrenfields, Terrie Lea & the Mustangs, Tim Diaz, Horse Crave Trio and the Red Ryder Band -- will perform a free show starting at 11 a.m. at Campus Martius Park.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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