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Rock veteran Al Kooper appreciates the life he's led

for Journal Register Newspapers

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Given his druthers, Al Kooper would be bringing a full band to Detroit next week. But, the music veteran notes, "Economics are terrible these days," so he's sticking to a solo show that he promises will still be special.

"I try and play songs that I think that people are coming to hear," notes Kooper, 68. "I usually talk about the derivations of the songs and the origins of the songs, and there's a lot of humor tossed around. We have a good time."

Kooper certainly has the goods to build from. His lengthy career includes membership in the Royal Teens of "Short Shorts" fame and starting both the Blues Project and Blood, Sweat & Tears. He played the organ riff for Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" and the French horn intro to the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want," and he produced Lynyrd Skynyrd's first three albums.

Kooper has chronicled those adventures, and more, in the book "Backstage Passes...," co-authored by Detroit writer Ben Edmonds and published in three editions so far. These days Kooper, who's retired from the Berklee College of Music and was a 2008 induction into the Musicians Hall of Fame, is working on an album of new material, a box set compilation of unreleased recordings and d documentary film about his eventful career.

"When I look at my resume, I can't believe it. It is truly bizarre," Kooper notes. "I think my strongest achievement is in arranging; it just comes to me naturally. But I've been very lucky to have a life like this.

"And also, at this point, I can take it a little slower. I think I made my point, you know? Now I can just do the things I really want."

A Very Special Solo Evening with Al Kooper takes place at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 17, at the Jazz Cafe in the Music Hall Center, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $30 in advance, $40 at the door. Call 313-887-8500 or visit www.musichall.org.

Web Site: www.musichall.org

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