When Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn boot-scooted onto the country music scene nine years ago with "Brand New Man," they didn't know that not only were they ushering in a new era of country honky tonk, but were also embarking on an unprecedented career in country music.
Their debut single flew to the top of the charts and started a trend that would give them 17 number one and 26 top 10 hits in nine years, including such chart busters as "Neon Moon" "She Used To Be Mine," "Little Miss Honky Tonk," "Boot Scootin Boogie" and "You're Gonna Miss Me (When I'm Gone)." They've garnered over 35 major industry awards, including the coveted Entertainer of the Year award from the CMA in '96 and ACM in'96 and '97 - making them the only duo in country music history to hold that top title. They were the CMA's Duo of the Year for eight consecutive years, the ACM's for seven, and have sold more than 20 million records, making them the second-highest RIAA certified duo in music history, behind only Simon and Garfunkel. That debut album, Brand New Man, stuck to Billboard's top country albums chart like chewing gum to boot-leather, too: a whopping five years.
With all this and seven critically acclaimed albums under their belt buckles, you'd think this multi-platinum duo might like to take a load off. Not a chance. As they finish up their 2000 tour, B&D seem to be busier than ever. If they aren't riding Sea-Doos to Memphis for their favorite charity, St. Jude Children's Hospital, they're laying the groundwork for a massive tour to support a new studio album in 2001.
The tour, "Brooks & Dunn's Hillbilly Circus and Wild West Show," will live up to its name, says Dunn. "We're pulling out all the stops to make it kind of carnival atmosphere with an old west flair." Other artists will join them for the music and fun, which Brooks calls "a guaranteed audience thriller."
In between shows and charities and planning for next year's tour, the duo also has been writing for their next record. If past experience proves out, we can look forward to another collection of award winning, high-energy country kickers alternating with soulful, aching ballads.
But how Kix Brooks (six BMI awards) and Ronnie Dunn (17 BMI awards) continue to pen songs that strike at the core is anybody's guess. Unlike many performers who write in their downtime, Brooks and Dunn tend to write while on the road, often inviting their co-writers on their buses for work sessions. "It's pretty much the productive way for me to go, and Ronnie too, I think," says Brooks. And though they know they're writing for a collection, Dunn says he doesn't look at the forest, but the tree: "I just take it one song at a time."