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Casual in dress and demeanor, country superstar Garth Brooks took a break from preparing for his first of six concerts at Joe Louis Arena this month and chatted with the media Friday afternoon.

The "Friends in Low Places" singer talked his return to the road after many years. He said that now that he has an empty nest, it was time to return to music.

"Being a dad is the greatest gift on the planet, it's a wonderful thing. Once your babies leave ... I didn't have a job. It's kind of weird," he said. "I'm not a guy that's good with time on his hands."

He talked about it being important to him to keep ticket prices for the Joe Louis shows reasonable ($66 for all seats). Clad in jeans and a black hoodie and black ball cap, Brooks got emotional when explaining that he didn't want parents having to explain to their kids that they "couldn't afford" the closer seats.

Another emotional moment came when Brooks showed appreciation to the venue for not only giving him a big welcome, but also to his wife Trisha Yearwood, who is on this tour with him.

Brooks said that other than the strain on his voice, he's not concerned about running out of steam doing back-to-back evening shows because he loves performing so much.

Even with ticket prices being significantly higher than his 1996 run at The Palace of Auburn Hills (they were $18), he says he's still outselling that tour.

"I'm not making the '90s tour look small, the attendance is making the '90s tour look small," he said, adding that only two cities on this tour so far did not break attendance records, and those records were set by himself in the 1990s. "If you have to lose to somebody ... " he joked.

While talking about how it's a different world since when he last toured, he admitted that he's into social media saying, "Twitter is my favorite ... it's so much fun to go back and forth with the fans."

Brooks also hinted that these six Joe Louis Arena shows may not be the only Michigan ones on this tour. Tour dates have been staggered, and not all have been announced. "Don't rule out East Lansing," he said.

One important question posed was whether Brooks will bring back his alter ego Chris Gaines. The answer was "no," not just because he said he didn't have the waistline for it, but also because "my ribs are still sore from getting the (crap) kicked out of me from doing it the first time."

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/melodybaetens

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