TONIGHT: Uncle Kracker to take the stage at the Fraze

Uncle Kracker is coming to the Fraze Pavilion on Friday, Aug. 20. FILE
Uncle Kracker is coming to the Fraze Pavilion on Friday, Aug. 20. FILE

Out of lockdown, back on stage

In May 2020, Uncle Kracker was one of the first artists to directly address the mundane reality of sheltering at home with the single, “No Time to Be Sober.” The hit-making artist, performing at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Friday, Aug. 20, used the song to inject humor into our stressful pandemic lives.

“I had that song but it was completely different,” said the artist born Matthew Shafer. “It was just sitting around and waiting for me to finish it. When we were sitting around in the beginning of the COVID thing, me and my buddy Paradigm kind of flipped it into something completely different and turned it into the COVID thing.

“The music had already been cut in the studio,” he continued. “It was just waiting for me to finish it, like it always is. I’m glad I never finished it because it was perfect for that COVID thing.”

The single’s lyrics tackle the monotony of sheltering at home, the scarcity of toilet paper and obsessively listening to updates from the CDC. The accompanying music video was produced at home during the shutdowns by two of his children.

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“Doing the video was really fun,” Shafer said. “We were just all stuck in the house like everybody else was. My oldest daughter had boogied off to her mom’s house because she didn’t want to shelter in place. My middle child and my youngest daughter was staying with me so we were just kind of joking and having fun anyway, all day every day. It was Groundhog Day. Then, I finally did that song and my little one was like, ‘Why don’t we just shoot a video on this iPhone?’ I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do that.’

“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.”

Musical origins

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.

Moving forward

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.”

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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


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

Artist info: