Well, it's finally final--Brooks & Dunn's very last concert (billed as Brooks & Dunn, anyway) was held Thursday night, September 2, at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.
Needless to say, it stands out as a sad occasion. And that's about the simplest way I can sum it up.
Brooks & Dunn themselves did their best to add levity to the sold-out evening. Kix Brooks forewarned the audience, "This isn't a funeral," and the pair kept it light on stage, goofing around and joking about their reasons for splitting. A monster of a set including many of their 23 number-one hits, a guest appearance by Reba McEntire, and an encore number of their debut single "Brand New Man" all worked together to provide an audience-pleasing final blowout.
However, this final show genuinely marks the end of an institution, and it's hard not to be a little somber thinking it all over. B&D's many appearances since their initial announcement of retirement last August gave an impression of infinite fluidity. You know--ah, no need to cry yet, they've still got this date coming up. Maybe they will decide not to break up after all. That sort of feeling.
One can be forgiven for not being able to really grasp B&D's retirement, as there has been virtually no slowing down of their career whatsoever since they debuted in the early '90s. These guys have done a domination number and then some on the country music scene for 20 astounding years. They're the top-selling duo of any genre in SoundScan history. They've won the Country Music Association award for duo of the year, every year, between 1992 and 2006 (Montgomery Gentry broke that streak once, in 2000). They've sold more than 30 million records, and won two Grammy Awards.
Hanging up the saddle seems...strange? Ridiculous? The party's still going. Hell, they're even up for yet another CMA award in November.
But, the curtain has fallen.
That said--a bright spot in all this bittersweetness is the fact that we're sure that neither Kix Brooks nor Ronnie Dunn are disappearing from the scene entirely. Rumors have been circulating for a while now that both musicians are planning solo records.
Meanwhile, Brooks intends to keep busy with his other gig: Hosting the nationally syndicated American Country Countdown radio show, which he's been handling as a side project for several years now. In fact, he's planning on taking the show on the road, visiting a different radio affiliate every month. He says he's looking forward to it: "This will be a fantastic opportunity to create some unique listener events and have direct contact with devoted country music fans."
Well, if there's one thing Brooks and his former partner know about for sure--it's devoted country music fans.
Thanks for the music, guys. Thanks for two decades of everything you've got, and then some.
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