A few days before the release of his latest album, "First Kiss," in late February, Kid Rock was sitting on a couch in his Allen Roadhouse recording studio in Clarkston, thinking about how many home town shows he'd play at the DTE Energy Music Theatre during the summer.
His Cheap Date Tour -- his second with $20 tickets for all fans -- had just been announced, with six initial nights at the nearby amphitheater known as "Pine Bob" for his frequent guest appearances there. He'd played eight during the summer of 2013, tying good pal Bob Seger's single season mark. Setting his own record certainly seemed plausible, especially after not playing any shows in the metro area during 2014. But Rock was non-committal.
"Let's put it this way; if it happens it'd be fine, and I would probably go ahead with it," he said, taking a puff off a morning stogie. "But if it doesn't I'm also fine, 'cause then I get some nights off. There's nothing wrong with me having a week or two off to go Up North tubing and spend some time in Michigan doing something fun
"But if it presents itself, maybe I'd do a few more."
And so it did. On Friday, Aug. 7, Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker Band begin what will be 10 nights at DTE -- with, yes, a few days between each group of two for potential recreation. Rock (real name Bob Ritchie), 44, will also set a record for the most tickets sold (145,000) by one artist for a single run, breaking Garth Brook's 107,000.
Big times are ahead, then, and here's some of what's on Rock's mind as he brings his latest road show home...
New Songs: Rock is anxious to play the material "First Kiss" -- which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 -- live but is also being careful about the way he includes it in the shows: "I just hope that I know when I'm turning into that guy when it's like, 'Here's something off the new record' and people are like, 'Let's go get some beer.' I don't want to be that dude, but I do feel like a lot of these songs, like four or five of them, can fit into the show and still hold people's interest and hopefully be something they want to hear. A lot of the songs on the new record, when I've played them for people, they've all said, 'These are gonna be great live.'"
Different Songs: "We've got such a catalog now that the way I'm trying to set the tour up is to have, say, three songs that have the same kind of feel and insert one on one night and the others on other night so I can still keep the flow of the show the way I want it and still insert different songs here and there.."
Keeping It Uptempo: "I can't fit in any more ballads, I know that much. People are not coming to hear Kid Rock sing ballads. I've got to sing 'Picture,' 'Only God Knows Why,' probably. And if I can sneak in something else and trick people into enjoying it without knowing it's a ballad, that might work. We came up with some great ballads for this (album), but I was like, 'We don't need any. That's not what we do.'"
Following Foreigner: Rock says that he's "excited" about his hand-picked opening act, whose manager, Phil Carson, is an old friend from Rock's time with Atlantic Records. "One formula that works with me is getting a band out there for an hour that just delivers hits. Lynyrd Skynyrd worked out awesome. When I've had Peter Wolf or Dickey Betts or Rev. Run out with me, those parts of the sets just worked great. Kool & the Gang and ZZ Top were phenomenal. Foreigner's just one of those groups that you forget how many hits they have and they sound great, and that's perfect to have out on the road with me."
Good music for a good price: "I'm so happy with the $20 thing. I feel like I'll be able to ride this into the sunset. We learned from the first time...that we can be more efficient now and we can make more money but still keep the price at $20. I'm just very fortunate to be in a position to do it, and it's still nuts to me that nobody else has done it. But it's a scary thing to 'cause it's really puts the weight on your shoulders; If you're playing for cheap like that and nobody shows up, it's time to hand it up, right? But so far, so good. It's win-win for everybody.
Doing DTE all summer long someday?: "Without being too cocky, we had an idea; What if we booked every Friday and Saturday night at DTE from June to August and we didn't tour -- we just made it our own Branson, Mo., and made people come here to see us? We could get with Pure Michigan and maybe the governor's office and say, 'OK, how do we use this to book tourism in Michigan?' We could give 'em discounts at restaurants, fun things to do, say 'Come for a few days. Enjoy a show and do this, that or the other.' That might be something I could get down with. I like that better than Vegas. You get to stay home."
Kid Rock, Foreigner and the Packway Handle Band
6:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 7-8, and Aug. 11-12, 14-15, 18-19 and 21-22.
DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.
$20 tickets are sold out, but promoters say some may be released over the course of the run.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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