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- Michigan musicians will open all 3 Seger shows
- 15 May, 2011
- Detroit Free Press -
- It'll be an all-state affair with Bob Seger this week. Each of Seger's three Palace dates will feature a Michigan artist: the Rockets on Tuesday, Jill Jack on Thursday and Frankie Ballard on Saturday. Where many modern tours enlist opening acts to help move seats, Seger has typically used his support slots to showcase talent, as he did when he grabbed little-knowns Eric Church and Steve Azar for his national outing in 2006. Ballard, a 27-year-old Battle Creek native who was also scheduled to play Saturday's Downtown Hoedown, has opened most of the dates on Seger's current tour. The Western Michigan University grad, a country songwriter discovered by Kenny Chesney, will release his debut album May 24 on Warner Bros. The recently revived Rockets have deep Seger ties: The band toured with Seger in the late '70s, and for drummer Johnny (Bee) Badanjek and guitarist Jim McCarty, Tuesday night will stir memories of late-night hotel jam sessions with acoustic guitars and Stroh's beer in hand. "This takes us back. We've been on many, many shows with Bob," says Badanjek. "He's always treated us great -- it's like family." For Badanjek and McCarty, the Seger ties go way back -- to their 1960s years in the Detroit Wheels with Mitch Ryder, whom Seger has long cited as a model. "There are millions of stories," Badanjek says with a laugh. "Most of 'em I can't tell." Jill Jack, an eclectic singer-songwriter who has worked the local scene for 15 years, is the Detroit Music Awards' all-time leading winner, with a career haul of 30. She's opened plenty of local tour dates through the years, but being handpicked by Seger, she says, is a genuine honor. "Knowing that he listens to my music and asked his management for me is pretty amazing," says Jack. "Just to give us that nod is incredible."
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