“It was fun,” he continued. “It was cool, very cool. It was fun to watch my kid edit and do all that stuff they seem to know how to do with technology and that type of stuff. It was a good way to make light of something so horrible.”
Despite having no experience on the turntables, Shafer became Uncle Kracker when he was recruited as the DJ for Kid Rock’s Twisted Brown Trucker Band in 1994. He quickly revealed an innate facility for music and became more involved, graduating from the live band to studio contributor. Shafer sang and co-wrote material on Rock’s “Early Mornin’ Stoned Pimp” (1996) and the follow-up, “Devil Without a Cause” (1998).
The Michigan native left the Twisted Brown Trucker Band for a solo career and hit paydirt with his debut, “Double Wide” (2000). The album, which was produced by Kid Rock, was certified platinum and featured his first solo hit, “Follow Me.” Other albums include “No Stranger to Shame” (2002), “Happy Hour” (2009) and “Midnight Special” (2012).
Uncle Kracker went on to hit number one with his cover of Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away,” which topped the adult contemporary chart for an astounding 28 weeks in 2003. He also scored a number one country hit in 2004 with “When the Sun Goes Down,” his duet with his good pal Kenny Chesney.
While the long-awaited new Uncle Kracker album is completed, no release date is set.
“We were just touring last year and we were going to put a record out,” he said. “When things hit last March, we had to unplug. Everybody just went home for the year-and-a-half-or-so. Obviously, everything else took precedence. A lot of things happened that summer too. I couldn’t rightfully put out a record. That didn’t feel very sensitive to anything that was going on. The record is done but I don’t know when we’re going to put it out.
“I started doing something else I wanted to slap out before I put that out,” Shafer continued. “It’s kind of a … I don’t know, I probably shouldn’t even talk about it. … It’s just an idea I’ve been messing with that I wanted to do. It’s almost finished. I just wanted to kind of dip my toe into this water real fast. It’s not like this experimental thing. It’s nothing weird or junk but I don’t know how to explain it to you.”
After being locked down for so long, Shafer is less focused on recording at the moment and enjoying the opportunities to get out and perform again.
“It’s been great to see people having fun and smiling and doing their thing,” he said. “I’ve got to be honest, as nice as it is, it’s still weird. It feels like just yesterday you weren’t allowed to do any of it and now, all of a sudden, some of these things are wide open but it’s been nice. It’s beautiful to see people gathering again and having fun.”
Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW TO GO
Who: Uncle Kracker
Where: Fraze Pavilion, 695 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20
Cost: $5 in advance, $10 day of show
More info: 937-296-3300 or www.fraze.com
Artist info: www.unclekracker.com