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Raconteurs ready to rock after four-year hiatus

for Journal Register Newspapers

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How did the Raconteurs’ performance for this year’s inaugural MI Fest come about?

“How it always comes about with us — without much planning,” bassist Jack Lawrence says with a laugh. “Something starts stirring the kettle, and all of a sudden we’re playing. That’s it.”

The MI Fest booking has, in fact, reactivated the Detroit-formed quartet — which also includes Jack White, Brendan Benson and Lawrence’s Greenhornes’ bandmate Patrick Keeler on drums — for the first time since 2008. Since committing to the festival, the group has booked another pair of shows in Nashville as well as late October and November dates at the Voodoo Experience in Nashville, the inaugural Orlando Calling festival in Florida and another concert in Atlanta.

“We all have a little bit of time right now,” Lawrence notes. “It just felt like the right time to get back together and do a few shows and see how we do since we last left off.”

And the verdict from early rehearsals is that it feels pretty good, says the bassist.

“I think it’s coming back pretty easy for us,” Lawrence says. “It’s been a while, so definitely there’s some dust there, but we’re blowing it off and it’s coming together so far.”

The Raconteurs formed during the summer of 2005, after the Greenhornes finished recording an album at Benson’s home studio near Belle Isle and Lawrence and Keeler stuck around to help Benson and White with some songs they had been working on — starting with “Steady, As She Goes,” which became the Raconteurs’ first single in 2006. Both of the group’s albums, “Broken Boy Soldiers” and 2008’s “Consolers of the Lonely,” debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200 and at No. 3 on the Top Rock Albums charts.

Since 2008 the band members have gone their separate ways, though White and Lawrence formed another band, Dead Weather, with Royal Oak’s Dean Fertita, who was a utility player on the Raconteurs’ first tour and is now part of Queens of the Stone Age. Lawrence says the troupe is working up some new cover songs and different arrangements of its own material for the upcoming shows; the prospect of new material, however, is up in the air.

“It’s hard to say,” Lawrence explains. “We’re all doing other projects, still, so it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen. We never really plan anything; it just depends on what the mood is with all of us.

“But if it feels right, by the time we do these shows I’m sure we’ll want to do more and we’ll make some time for it.”

The inaugural MI Fest takes place at noon on Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Tickets are $79-$109. Call 800-354-1010 or visit www.mi-fest.com.

Web Site: www.mi-fest.com

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