Toby Keith has a little more reason to look out the tour bus window on his way to his annual stop at the DTE Energy Music Theatre these days — thanks to an Auburn Hills location of the country music icon’s I Love This Bar and Grill chain at Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills.
“I watch how they’re doing every month,” Keith, 49, says. “We’re getting so many they’re hard to be as hands-on with as we were with the one in my hometown, Oklahoma City, but it’s great to watch them open up and build a local rapport and also become a destination for people who are shopping nearby.”
The business is just one Keith’s concerns, of course. Music is still his primary focus, both as an artist and a label “boss” with his Show Dog Nashville imprint. And he certainly hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for generating new material as he prepares for the Oct. 5 release of “Bullets in the Gun.”
“This year, I spent more time writing by myself and more time writing with writers,” Keith says. “I just ended up with more songs than ever before, and I had a huge pile to go in and pick from when I went in and did this album.”
Among those was “Trailerhood,” the first single from “Bullets in the Gun,” which is currently scaling the Billboard country charts. The song, he says, was inspired during a motorcycle ride at home, when he passed by a trailer home park where he used to reside.
“I said, ‘Let’s turn around at the trailerhood and get out of here,’ ” Keith recalls. “It just kind of sprung out; I made a faux pax and said trailerhood instead of neighborhood or trailer park, and it made me laugh. So I just took my phone out and sent myself a message and then wrote it over Christmas break.”
Another track, “Somewhere Else,” is targeted to be the album’s next single, while the title track, which Keith has been playing to open his concerts this summer, is a possible third spin-off. And Keith, whose songs have been played more than 70 million times according to Broadcast Music International, was so prolific this time out that he even pulled off a couple of songs off the record.
“When I finished cutting the tracks, I felt like I had six or seven singles,” Keith explains. “And I figured they’re only gonna release three singles off this album. So I said, ‘Man, there’s no way I’m gonna let these (other) songs just be lost on the album.’ So I ended up actually pulling two tracks off this album and putting them in the can for the next one, just so they wouldn’t be lost.”
Toby Keith, Trace Adkins and James Otto perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 29, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $75.50 pavilion and $35.50 lawn with a $40 lawn two-pack and a $99 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to