Brian McCollum, Detroit Free Press
Published 9:47 p.m. ET Sept. 14, 2020 | Updated 11:09 p.m. ET Sept. 14, 2020
On a night that felt as much like a late-summer concert as a political event, Kid Rock joined Donald Trump Jr. and other supporters of the president at a campaign rally east of Detroit.
The homegrown rock-rapper — one of the most prominent Trump boosters in the celebrity ranks — performed just after sunset for several thousand along the Clinton River in Harrison Township, Michigan.
Hours earlier, he’d announced on social media that his next major tour, still to be scheduled, will be the last of his career.
Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker band played a four-song acoustic-style set on a stage atop a barge, following remarks by Trump and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle.
Boaters also converged on the water outside Bumpers Landing Boat Club, with security on personal watercraft keeping them distanced from the staging area.
Rock, who grew up in nearby Romeo, had flown in from Nashville earlier Monday, accompanied by a film crew shooting an career documentary.
Most in the crowd, which was largely gathered in a parking lot by the riverside, were maskless, with face coverings predominantly worn by some older attendees.
Trump and Guilfoyle hit stock campaign themes — decrying illegal immigration, loss of manufacturing, unrest that has flared up across the country — while characterizing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as being in China’s pocket.
Trump stepped to the microphone to a recording of Kid Rock’s “American Bad Ass.”
Rock’s 20-minute set came a year to the day after his latest metro Detroit concert, when he capped a four-night stand at DTE Energy Music Theatre. Monday night, he rolled through several staples: “So Hott,” “Cowboy,” All Summer Long,” “Born Free.”
It came hours after Rock issued a news-filled post on social media: Notably, he announced he’s planning “one last monster tour” — possibly in 2021 — along with the release of new music.
He also revealed he has been battling with neck issues “for years,” attributing it to his three decades onstage. He wrote that he’d gotten a pair of steroid shots Monday morning — one in his neck, one in his butt.
“Would make sense to cancel my appearance, but NO WAY!” he wrote. “I will be there and give it everything I have this evening.”
In the hours ahead of the event, the grounds outside the marina teemed with American flags, MAGA memorabilia, classic-rock songs and “U-S-A” chants. At least one attendee hoisted the Confederate stars-and-bars, emblazoned with “REDNECK.”
Rock, 49, is a longtime Donald Trump proponent: He endorsed the Republican nominee in 2016, and has since dined and golfed with the president.
Rock made his own political waves in 2017, when he staged a mock Senate run that unfolded over several months. His views — including attacks on Colin Kaepernick and others kneeling for the national anthem — have stirred controversy and divided his longtime fan base.
His increasingly vocal right-leaning stances have also eroded his support in the city of Detroit, where earlier in his career he was largely warmly received. His Little Caesars Arena shows in 2017 were picketed by protesters. Following a November rant by Rock blasting Oprah Winfrey, arena officials announced they would not renew a licensing deal for a venue restaurant using his name.
Kid Rock, who owns the Made in Detroit merchandise line, posted a fiery response at the time, citing his record of philanthropy in the city and sounding exasperated by the backlash.
Still firmly aboard was John Larue, 33, of Chesterfield, Michigan, who attended Monday’s rally eager to experience live music after a lengthy pandemic dry spell. While he was happy to show support for Trump and company, Kid Rock was the big draw for Larue, who hadn’t attended a concert since a November show by rock band Tool.
“We’ve been without music for so long,” he said. “So this is very cool.”
Contact Detroit Free Press music writer Brian McCollum: 313-223-4450 or email@example.com.
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