Singer Kid Rock arrives at the Rolling Stone Magazine American Music Awards Party in Los Angeles on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg)
As he prepares to wave the Detroit flag at halftime of the Thanksgiving Day Detroit Lions football game, Kid Rock is readying another civic-boosting endeavor.
During a press conference Wednesday, Nov. 24, at Ford Field, the Clarkston-based Rock announced a new We're All Detroit campaign through his Made In Detroit clothing line. Hatched in conjunction with the Detroit Shop at the Somerset Collection in Troy, the initiative will include special clothing designs and an outreach to both present a positive image of the metro area and encourage goodwill between its communities.
"We're trying to find ways to bridge this gap between the city and the suburbs that's really been created by the politicians through the years, in my eyes," explained Rock (real name Bob Ritchie), who returns to Ford Field on Jan. 15 for a concert that will celebrate his 40th birthday and kick off a world tour.
"There's really a gap that's been there for years. It seems like they kind of pitted us against each other in a weird way, so I'm just trying to do the best I can for the city."
Rock — whose new album, "Born Free," debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart with first week sales of 189,000 — said he and his companies, Made in Detroit and his American Badass beer brand, hope "to do more things indie the city and just the suburbs and (are) trying to find that connection."
He revealed that he'll be taking space in Detroit's Comerica Park as a headquarters for those enterprises, though he's not sure if he'll open a retail shop in deference to the boutique, "mom and pop" stores that carry Made In Detroit products now.
The announcements came shortly before Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker band rehearsed the title track from "Born Free" title track on a red, white and blue stage situated in the center of Ford Field. The United Way Thanksgiving Halftime Show will feature 1,000 extras, including members of the U.S. National Guard and their families, while Rock promised a special version of the song for the occasion. "We're going to strip it down and build it up a little bit," he said.
"It's great for the people here, just to be in front of them and give them a little slice of home," added Rock, who joins a Thanksgiving halftime lineage that includes Bon Jovi, Mariah Carey, John Mellencamp and the Goo Goo Dolls, among others.
"Sometimes you get different acts in here that are just kind of coming and going through the motions.
"I think this is going to be a little bigger, a little more heartfelt than that, just me being from here and being very vocal about trying to do positive things and represent our city correctly."
Rock is also doing something special for the holiday by buying Thanksgiving dinners for 1,000 needy area families via Meijer stores, which have been distributed in partnership with various local media outlets. "I know just from living here that there's a lot of people going through a lot of things right now," Rock noted, "so this is a little something I could do. I just thought it was the right thing to do at this time of year, and I was able to ... try to do it quietly and give it to the right people. It's a win-win."
The halftime gig will also give Rock and company a bit of a warm-up for the Jan. 15 show, whose general public tickets go on sale Friday, Nov. 26. Some 25,000 pre-sale tickets sold out in mere minutes earlier this week, and Rock said he's expecting it to be a big night and a "different" kind of show, with "as many guests as I can get to come in that I've been fortunate enough through the years to sing with," though he acknowledged that nobody is locked in yet.
"I wanted to do something special for my birthday," Rock said. "After I realized nobody was going to throw me a party, I said, 'Man, wouldn't it be fun to do a concert somewhere in the city and celebrate it with the people that give me so much love'... and once again do something special a little bit different."
Rock has, however, postponed plans for a Comedy Central roast that was originally to take place on Jan. 17 at the Fox Theatre in order to give the network more time to plan the production.
As for the game itself, Rock — who gave the Lions a post-game pep talk after their Oct. 10 victory over the St. Louis Rams — said nobody should bet against the Lions as they face the New England Patriots.
"I would tell people to bet on the Lions tomorrow," he said. "You know they're good for this. They'll come out and beat the Patriots at home, get everyone excited again — and then we'll see what happens."