Kid Rock makes hillbilly history

Brings out the red, white and blue pride

I’m not gonna lie. I’m “Kiddicted.” And just to give you an idea of how far I was from becoming a fan, I listen to Patty Griffin, anti-folk, and classical. I drive a mini-van. Whisky makes me faint and and cheap wine gives me a headache. The most I knew about Kid Rock before the show was that he once married the “Baywatch” babe and was running for Senate. But after my Hillbilly baptism (being so close to Kid Rock, the sweat coming off the side of his cheek may have washed away my liberal sins), I let back in my American self, the hard-working, rope-swing-over the muddy lake-loving self.

The wild west-style concert was a good rockin’ time. The vibe was so positive, I saw two motorcycle dudes embrace in a man hug. Before the podunk party even started, fans were taking off their white tank tops and swirling them in the air, hooting. The Chumash Arena had a Dominos pizza mixed with a pale beer scent in the air. The big ferris wheel lit up the starry sky and tiara-clad pageant queens made the rounds up and down the aisles. It felt like an outdoor pool hall.

For the girls, the dress code was “If you got it, flaunt it,” as in cut off jeans, low cut tanks, heels, and the trademark Kid Rock “American Bad A--” trucker hat. For the boys, outfits consisted of  plenty of American flag cowboy hats and Kid Rock shirts with explicit lyrics of his songs. Beards. Tattooes. “Keep Templeton Country” T-shirts. It was “bombs bursting in air” beautiful.

Tim Montana and the Shrednecks opened for Kid Rock, dedicating some sweet covers and originals to single moms, and Montana got real personal and raw with the audience about how his stepdad used to throw his guitars out the window, only to find recovery in the support of his mother. He majorly pulled off a country-style cover of the Eminem song “Lose yourself.”

Kid Rock skipped the banter and opened with his 2015 release “First Kiss,” getting all country, but still kind of rap/rock. A bottle of his favorite vice, Jim Beam, sat on the edge of his female drummer’s kit, and he put on an energetic show, singing and playing guitar with that down home country/hip-hop/rock style that’s distinctly Kid Rock, like the love child of ZZ Top and Run DMC.

Timed to a T, every time he jumped up and landed, fireworks went off, and in the last of the set, as Kid rock played the piano and also stood on top of it, as a gigantic U.S. flag dropped down on the stage. He ended the show with “Born Free” and “Bawitdaba.”

I didn’t know much about Kid Rock’s craft until I watched his recent interview with Dan Rather, and learned that he’s no dummy (and these days people seem to cry “Idiot!” every time they hear someone they know nothing about gets into politics or wants to bring back American prosperity).  Kid Rock’s actually a reflective and thoughtful kind of guy, who cares a hell of a lot about this country, and, like our current president, is willing to put his money where his mouth is to fix this corporate-run, corrupted mess.

Did you know Kid Rock was a single dad to a half-black son before he began his hard working career? He’s also super-proud to be from middle class Detroit and encourages people to own who they are. He doesn’t hide who he is, but he also doesn’t like to air his dirty laundry. I thought the way he refrained from dishing on Pamela Anderson in the Dan Rather interview was classy, and not the least bit cocky.

He takes music seriously, calls himself a music nerd, and claims he’s kind of the Pa of mash-ups. And although he wears a rapper-sized gold chain and drives a Rolls Royce, he lives in a humble double wide. It’s actually a sweet double-wide with a deck that looks out over Nashville, which Kid Rock jokes, “I have the biggest deck in Nashville.” Don’t expect Kid Rock to refrain from cussing. Words are just words to him. It’s all part of the package.

To point, the plates on his Royce have a “Follow Me to the Waffle House” tag bracket. Love or hate Kid Rock’s music, you’ve got to admit he’s a marketing guru. But I’m glad he’s successful. He seems like a genuine person. He gave me the impression after his years of cigar binging, breaking things and drinking too much he likes to keep things simple and that he’s evolved from past relationships (Pamela). Don’t touch the stove if it’s hot, he told Dan Rather.

He basically wants to bring light to people he meets. He believes in kindness. I think Dan Rather became a little Kiddicted too. He asked Kid Rock who he really is and Kid Rock answered, “I’m just a guy who likes to have fun,” but he added that he doesn’t want to get anyone hurt in the process. Now that’s the 45-year-old versus the 25-year-old talking.

During his set, before he sang the song that begins, “I’m a blank, blank, mother, blank”, Kid Rock jived with us. He said he knew we were expecting him to get all political. I was really hoping he would, but he said, “Nah, this ain’t the place for that,” but he told us not to worry, that he’ll step in to help if the country goes too downhill. I’m pretty sure we’re already there, Kid Rock. We need you to help remind us how cool our country is. More boogieing, more Rock ‘n’ Roll Jesus. More sugar. More times like these.

I could tell Kid Rock was right there with the people. He asked us how many of us voted in the last election. Like the release of 5,000 captive American Eagles, a freedom army of hands rose into the air, catching the light from the stage. Kid Rock was pleased with us. Woah, that’s pretty good, he said. “Do you believe the government is as f----d up as I do?” he asked us. The crowd roared.

Kid Rock’s webpage says he’s really running for Senator. He’s at the point in his life, when he’s been through enough, that he just might be wise enough to represent hard-working Americans, even though politics can be a much meaner game than the music business. As a senate candidate he will certainly add some stars and stripes to the ballot box in 2018. Music tends to make us feel better, and maybe Kid Rock will take that idea just a little bit further, sprinkle it with some freedom and good times, and let it ride.

You may contact Reporter Beth Giuffre at [email protected]


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