Shannon Curfman was confused. It was her first time as an employee, and the summer-long job was about to end. No one had called her in for a job review.
She was reluctant to approach her boss. But, finally, she went up to Kid Rock and asked: "Do I stay or go?"
"He said, 'No, we're good' or something like that," his newest guitarist recalled. "I just kept getting sent more [tour] dates. I thought we would have some sort of conversation. It was sort of like 'You're in and you're never going to leave,' which is certainly fine with me."
Her three-month tour is now into Year 3, with a sold-out show Sunday at Mystic Lake Casino amphitheater. Not bad for the former Twin Cities wunderkind who signed a major record deal at age 12.
Curfman, who turns 27 on July 31, has traveled the world with the Detroit rock hero, singing the hit duet "Picture" with him, playing rhythm guitar and dancing a few steps.
Being a hired hand means she has more time to run a household, take care of her 4-year-old daughter and attend to her soon-to-be-adopted 16-year-old daughter (a longtime friend from a troubled family). Oh, yeah, her fiancé has two sons who live with the couple part of the time.
"I don't know how I'm going to work all this," Curfman said with a nervous laugh.
Conventional life is not something she has known. Nor has her young daughter. "This lifestyle's totally normal for Lucy," said Mom, who brings Lucy on the road about once a month. "She goes to bed late, wakes up late and plays guitar and sings. Our house is rocking till midnight, playing guitar and putting on shows."
Raised in Fargo, N.D., Curfman was a tween prodigy on guitar, dubbed the female Jonny Lang. After moving to Minneapolis and signing with Clive Davis and Arista Records, she released her debut, "Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions," at age 14, to commendable reviews. She had subsequent contracts with J and Epic but neither label ever released an album of hers. She got caught up with a guy in the fast lane in Los Angeles for a few years but she escaped to Detroit. There she reconnected with guitarist Marlon Young, who had played in her Arista-era band, and he produced her 2007 album, "Fast Lane Addiction." By then, she'd moved back to Minnesota.
In 2010, Curfman booked a tour to promote another new album, "What You're Getting Into." But then she received a call from Young.
His boss, Kid Rock, wanted to add a female guitarist to his Twisted Brown Trucker band. Curfman was one of three invited to audition in Detroit. She didn't think she'd get the gig. In fact, she didn't even bother to bring her own guitar or a suitcase with her. She jammed on "Rock and Roll Jesus" and "Picture." Two days later, she was playing with Kid Rock on an awards show and canceling all her own gigs.
Opposed to the gig
"I can't believe I'm in this band," Curfman said last week over lunch. "I was 100 percent opposed to it at first. Honestly, I was scared. I've never known a life working for someone else. Being an employee was such a foreign thought to me. Having a daughter is what changed my opinion."
Still, Curfman found it hard to leave her 2-year-old. "I cried for the first two weeks," she said of her first tour.
But once she got to know Kid Rock -- whom she knows as Bob Ritchie -- she found the balance.
"Bob really respects me as a mother. I'm the only mother in the band, not the only parent. He has deep respect for good parents because he is a single parent. He flies home every night to see Junior [his son]."
Being in the Twisted Brown Trucker requires more work and flexibility than Curfman anticipated. "Bob will throw a couple new songs at us every day," she said. "We'll get texts or an e-mail in the morning: Learn this song. In the afternoon, we'll soundcheck for a couple of hours."
Kid Rock is a serious hard worker, which may not be as well known as his reputation for being a party animal.
"His songs aren't just about partying," Curfman explains. "He has songs about his son, songs about being a single father -- he does write about his life. Don't get me wrong. The guy can party. But he's not a one-dimensional person."
Kid Rock is working on a new album (Curfman contributes), due later this year. While he finishes the project, Curfman will hit the road with her own band this fall for the first time in 2 1/2 years.
But right now she is thinking about how to get the party started at Mystic Lake Casino, which doesn't allow booze.
She knows that Kid Rock's fans, like the man himself, can be resourceful. Therefore, Curfman has a prediction: "That is going to be the drunkest non-alcohol show ever."
Jon Bream • 612-673-1719 Twitter: @jonbream