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Brooks & Dunn: All Done, But Still Fun

Our Country

Ay, yi yi! I sure didn't see this one coming. In fact, I was looking forward to a nice, pleasant week listening to George Strait's new album. And what do I get?

Out of the clear blue sky, Brooks & Dunn have announced that they plan to "call it a day" after two decades of phenomenal (to say the least) success. To the honky-tonk music fan, this is sort of like--well, McDonalds suddenly announcing they won't serve Big Macs anymore. This pair is nothing short of otherworldly in terms of success: My personal favorite stat is their CMA Vocal Duo of The Year winning streak from 1992-2006 (save one year, 2000). These guys are the Simon & Garfunkel of country, and their proposed breakup marks a very sad day for the genre indeed.

Fans across the Internet have been buzzing, with mostly shocked comments in response to the news--"Noooooooo!" seems to be by far the most common sentiment on Twitter, with the joke "Brooks & Dunn are splitting up. I wonder who'll get custody of the state fair circuit," RT'd somewhat beyond its half-life of humor.

The good news is that the boys aren't throwing in the towel until 2010--they're planning on a final tour, "The Last Rodeo," And according to singer Julie Downs, who's handled backup vocals on B&D's tours for the past five years, the tour promises to be a celebration worthy of the pair's mega-career.

"I'm hearing rumors that 'The Last Rodeo' will be like nothing they've ever done, and they've done a lot," she says. "The best part, in my opinion? I get to be on that stage. I've never been more excited than for next year."

Downs has plenty of great stories to tell about working with B&D, which she terms "the greatest job in the world." She notes: "You'd never know they're superstars. They'll hold doors; remember birthdays."

And, apparently, they have a pretty broad sense of humor. Downs remembers one birthday of hers that Kix and Ronnie definitely didn't forget: "Birthdays on the road often come with pranks, but since I'm the youngest one in the band I tend to receive 'special' treatment. [That night] I stepped up to my mic to sing, and it smells horrid. Apparently, these hillbillies had purchased skunk oil from a local hunting store and put it on my mic. It wasn't just on the outside either--it was smeared all over the capsule!"

"I did get them back, you know, with a carton of extra large eggs," she laughs. "Backstage was a mess that night."

Yep, as I said, it's a stinky day for country when a legendary act decides to pack it up. But let's all just hope and pray B&D will change their minds after the tour, and decide to make this all just a short lil' vacation.

You can check out more behind-the-scenes glimpses of Downs's life on the road with B&D in her video series Diary of a Backup Singer. Also check out her solo music here!

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