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Kid Rock turns 50 with virtual "Birthday Hang!" from Nashville

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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"Don't worry; If this is a train wreck, it's gonna be a f***in' great train wreck!" Kid Rock said at the beginning of his virtual "Birthday Hang!" on Sunday night, Jan. 17.

Technical issues made sure it was a bit of that, but for the most part the 75-minute "Hang!" celebrating the Romeo, Mich., native's 50th birthday was the kind of good time Rock fans have become used to over the course of his 30-plus years of recording and performing.

Sunday's bash was certainly a far cry from Detroit's Ford Field, which was packed for Rock's guest-filled 40th birthday celebration. Unable to stage such an event during a pandemic, even in Tennessee, Rock held the party in the saloon on his property near Nashville with a small gathering of friends and family, generally maskless (though Rock has promoted mask-wearing as well as the Michigan Mask Challenge), in the room. Rock, meanwhile, held court at a table in front of a laptop, speaking to online attendees -- some 70,000 had registered, he said, though peak attendance appeared to be around 13,000.

Many in the chat accompanying the video complained about interrupted service, frozen screens or being booted off entirely. Rock (nee Bob Ritchie) and company soldiered on, however, offering a variety of "presents" for those tuning in.

His fiancÚ, Audrey Berry, and son Bob Ritchie Jr., made appearances, as did Rock's granddaughter Skye and country star Jake Owen -- whose latest album features Rock on "Grass is Always Greener." Rock alluded to other famous friends on the guest list, while he also showed off 19-year old Dalton Little, an aspiring country artist who's currently working as a farmhand for Rock.

There was a smattering of political talk and lamenting about the pandemic, and Rock sang along to recordings of songs slated for his next album -- including "Monster Truck" and "My Kind of Country." But his chief concern was raising money for Barstool Sports' Barstool Fund for small business owners; Rock, who recently contributed $100,000 to the fund, held a virtual chat with founder David Portnoy and promised that if viewers contributed $2000 he would perform live.

He wound up kicking in another $4,000 when those donations reached $196,000, singing a par of songs accompanied by friend and neighbor Tim Watson on fiddle and his son TJ Watson on guitar. The trio started with Webb Pierce's "I Ain't Never," then played a new version of Rock's "F***in' 40," recast, of course, as "F***in' 50," instructing granddaughter Skye to "plug your ears" singing that "I don't hang much more with outlaws...I hang out at toys are us...I still rock like a champ, middle finger in the air with my granddaughter on my knee."

He also promised in the song that there will be "no more talking s*** about Oprah or fighting at the Waffle House," referencing a couple of notorious misadventures from his past.

The Watsons led the live crowd in singing "Happy Birthday," and Rock promised there will be more virtual programming and performances to come from the saloon. "We've got all sorts of things in the work," he said, telling the virtual fans "I love each and every one of y'all like cornflakes."

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