Kid Rock at Hard Rock Live March 8

When Kid Rock first surfaced in the late '90s, slightly goofy hip-hop trappings and incongruous long hair in tow, he seemed like the last possible pop artist in line for the career-longevity coupon. Clearly, we owe him more credit than the naysayers gave him at the outset. Perhaps sniffing out that the rape-y arc of rap-rock was soon fading, just a few years later he began his Great American Reinvention. The first hint of the softer, sensitive Kid Rock came in 2001 via a duet with the very un-hip-hop Sheryl Crow, an almost-country ballad called "Picture."

Fast-forward ten years, and "Bawitdaba" and dancing dwarfs are a distant memory. Kid Rock in 2011 is a bona fide working-man's troubadour who proudly flies the Skynyrdian musical flag despite hailing from far north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Well, geography be damned. To the average Kid Rock fan, country is a state of mind, one underscored by Jamey Johnson, the opening act on his current tour. Though he's a success story from the Nashville machine, the 36-year-old is also known for refusing to kowtow to genre traditions, winning fans and Grammys with rock-and-roll swagger.


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