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Detroit's Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. changes name

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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The eclectic Detroit rock group Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has changed its name.

The Oakland County-formed duo will now be known simply as JR JR., according to a message on its official web site, ending an association with race driving champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- who in 2011 gave the group his blessing to use his name.

Though noting that the name "gave us an amazing flexibility...there would be no expectations for what we were meant to sound like," group members Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott write that "as things have grown, so has the amount of confusion caused by the name Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr....We've had people drive long distances to shows only to be disappointed when they realize it's a neurotic Jew and a wild haired gentile from Detroit they've paid to see." The message says Epstein and Zott have also received inquiries from people whose dying relatives want to meet Dale Earnhardt Jr. before they pass and other "sad and bizarre requests" from people thinking Earnhardt Jr. is somehow involved.

"Those sort of interactions feel a little voyeuristic and eerie," the duo writes, "and even attempting to clarify the situation means you've added a moment of embarrassment to someone's day when they're already going through a lot. Despite the attention that's come from the name -- which Epstein and Zott call "almost another member of the band" -- the messages says that, "As time has passed, we have grown into ourselves as artists and individuals...We've found that there is no longer room for a third, ubiquitous member of the project...Changing our name to JR JR allows us to take back our voice in a way. To us it is all about empowerment and being who we feel we need to be moving forward."

The duo promises "another announcement very very soon," presumably about its next music release. As Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. the duo has released two albums -- most recently 2013's "The Speed of Things" -- and several EPs. The group has been working on new music and has just one show -- on July 24 in Tulsa, Okla. -- on its current itinerary.

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