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Interview:
Rod Stewart is happy to be rockin' again
 

By GARY GRAFF
@graffonmusic, www.facebook.com/garygraffonmusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

After a decade immersed in the Great American Songbook, Rod Stewart came out rocking again this year -- to a resounding chorus of "it's about time."

"Time," which Stewart released in May, was his first set of all-original material in 12 years, after five sets of pop standards, a Christmas package and rock and soul cover albums. It was his first No. 1 album in his native U.K. in a record-setting 37 years -- at least until Black Sabbath bested that mark during the summer. But Stewart was not particularly surprised by the success.

"Yeah, while I was making it and it was coming together and I was listening back to it, I thought this was going to please the long-standing Rod fans because this is what I do best," says Stewart, 68, a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee (on his own and with the Faces) whose lead guitarist, Detroiter Paul Warren, co-wrote several songs for the album. "Time," Stewart notes, had "got the use of violin and mandolin and acoustic (guitar) and some good ol' rock 'n' roll stuff. This is what I do, and although I don't think it's any huge step forward, it's what I've done best -- and what I do best.

"So I was actually thinking of all the fans who would actually love it, and they did. I know because I read my fan mail."

So does he plan to stay on the rock path moving forward? "Don't ask me that -- I've just gotten over the last album!" Stewart says with a laugh. "I need to take a rest from it for a couple of months, and I've got tours and have to concentrate on that. But we'll see. It's early days yet."

Stewart has settled into a relationship with Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for periodic residencies ala Celine Dion, Shania Twain and good pal Elton John, but "Time" has given him a chance to strut his "Hot Legs" and kick a few soccer balls on the road this year. And his current North American swing with Steve Winwood opening has allowed him to resume an old acquaintance.

"The last time I was on the stage with Steve was, I think, 1965 or 66, something like that," Stewart says. "I was with Long John Baldry's band and we did a festival together with (the Spencer Davis Group). Eric Burdon came up on we jammed on a song by Muddy Waters. (Winwood) is still a mate, so he's great to be (on tour) with."

Rod Stewart and Steve Winwood perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $49.50-$152.50. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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