Uncle Kracker, with Kenny Chesney and Rascal Flatts

Friday, August 20, at Gund Arena.

Absurdity in the Streets Rockefeller Park in University Circle (August 19-21) and at Edgewater Park (August 26-28) Presented by the Charenton Theater Company; www.charenton.org.
"I can't explain how my career went at all," says Uncle Kracker, one of few artists to cross genres successfully. "I've been hip-hop. I've been contemporary, and now I'm regarded by a lot of people as country. I don't get too hung up on all of it."

Nor should he. After all, Uncle Kracker (né Matt Shafer) has made a career out of confounding expectations. He wrote a large portion of Kid Rock's randy, diamond-certified (for sales of 10 million) album Devil Without a Cause, then moved on to record the Dobie Gray classic "Drift Away," which became the longest-running No. 1 single in the history of album-oriented rock. Despite all this, Kracker heads into his latest release, Seventy Two and Sunny, with no more than guarded optimism.

"You know, I always hope that the albums do well, but you just never know," the Detroit native admits. "I mean, Devil Without a Cause was out for eight months before it sold shit. When I broke off and did Double Wide, the label and everyone just expected it to piggyback off of Kid's success, and that just didn't happen. Even the last one (2002's No Stranger to Shame) didn't really do a lot until "Drift Away" took off. All I do is make what I hope is the best record I can, and once I'm satisfied with it, I turn it in and then go to work on touring.

"I look back at the old bands, and they didn't even need a big hit on the radio to make it. I mean, think about guys like Bob Seger or Jim Croce or whoever you want to name. They had hits, but they made their way out on the live stage. If the music is good enough, the people will come out to the shows, and they will keep coming as long as you give them a good reason each time they see you. I just hope people that come and see my shows are convinced to come back again."

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