After laying relatively low in recent months, Kid Rock  is gearing up for some greater visibility as he prepares for the expected fall release of his next album.
The Michigan-based rocker, who's currently on the high seas finishing his first Chillin' The Most Cruise, has been announced as the host of this year's CMT Music Awards, which will air live on June 9 from Nashville. In a posting on his web site, Rock -- whose hits "Picture" and "All Summer Long" have crossed over into the country charts -- said that, "All I can promise is I will be awesome."
He's planning on giving fans a batch of new music in May as well. Already guesting on the song "I Hold On" from Slash 's self-titled solo album, Rock will also appear to a new version of "It's Good to Be Me," the next single from good pal Uncle Kracker 's latest album, "Happy Hour." The revised track is due out in early May. Meanwhile, in a unique promotion with his sponsor, Jim Beam Bourbon, Rock -- who's been outspokenly resistant to distributing his music via digital outlets -- is offering a download of a new song, the "Times Like These," as well as a six-song digital live EP from his July 2009 home town stadium shows at Detroit's Comerica Park. The downloads will be available with the purchase of special edition gift cartons of Jim Beam or the cherry-flavored Red Stag by Jim Beam, beginning next month. The live tracks include "Rock N Roll Jesus," "All Summer Long," "Amen," "Picture," "So Hott" and "Bawitdaba."
Rock premiered "Times Like These" at the Detroit concerts, introducing it as "In Times Like These" and explaining that while he usually doesn`t play new material until it`s released, he felt this was "an important song" inspired by tough economic times around the country and especially in his home state of Michigan. "It`s the truth, and we hope it`s more inspirational than anything," Rock told the crowd.
The gift cartons will also promote donations for Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization that provides emergency financial and morale assistance to U.S. military personnel and their families.
Rock has been working on the follow-up to 2007's triple-platinum "Rock N Roll Jesus" since early 2009, switching gears to work with producer Rick Rubin after starting work on the as-yet-untitled album himself. Besides "Times Like These," Rock has mentioned songs such as "One Woman Man," "The Midwest Fall" and "Care" with a guest appearance by rapper T.I. Lil Wayne also cut a track at Rock's home studio, and he's mentioned covering Alabama's "Mountain Song" as well as possible guest appearances by Bob Seger, Metallica's James Hetfield and country stalwarts George Strait and Merle Haggard. The album is expected in early September, but no release date has yet been announced.
Meanwhile, Rock's summer touring schedule includes opening dates for Bon Jovi  in North America and Europe, as well as festival appearances in Calgary, Detroit Lakes, Minn., and Sturgis, S.D.
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