12 August 2009

The Long Goodbye

It shouldn't be surprising, or upsetting, that Brooks & Dunn have announced that they are dissolving the most successful duo in country music (if not all of music). The last single they released to radio featuring lead vocals by Kix Brooks was "South of Santa Fe" from the If You See Her album back in 1999. It stalled at #41 on the charts. Concert-goers have found Kix's portion of the set repetitive as a result, tiring over the last decade of hearing "Mama Don't Get Dressed Up for Nothing" because there's nothing to take its place in the repetoire.

Ronnie Dunn has, in recent years, appeared as a guest vocalist credited by himself; in years past, non-album tracks of theirs credited the duo even when the contribution was restricted to vocals from just one of the two of them. Kix has taken over the American Country Countdown radio show and become a board member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Perhaps more significantly, ever since Sugarland became a duo they're stranglehold on the Duo of the Year awards has been usurped.

So, what now? Well, next month they release a 2-disc, career-spanning hits collection, #1's...and Then Some, including their current single, "Indian Summer" and another new recording. 2010 will see what is being billed as their final tour. Dunn seems poised to break loose as a solo act, while Brooks appears to be settling into a life that doesn't revolve around the stage. It's difficult to imagine either having as much success in the Male Vocalist category as they have had together as a duo, and yet as they near their 60's in the next few years it's hard to imagine them maintaining the same pace they've kept up for nearly twenty years regardless of what they do at this point.

Ultimately, of course, as a fan I can only thank Tim DuBois for having the idea of pairing the two once upon a time. Their Neon Circus & Wild West Show tours were an absolute blast and they've turned in some of the most crank-it-up worthy songs of their generation--from "Ain't Nothing 'Bout You" to "Brand New Man," from "Play Something Country" to "Rock My World (Little Country Girl)," it's been a wonderful ride.