Country music pulls at the heart strings |

Country music pulls at the heart strings

Cara Herron
Special to the DailyBrooks and Dunn play a show on the back lawn at Beaver Creek Thursday.

BEAVER CREEK – At a local barbecue recently, one friend of mine told another that if she didn’t like country music she must have ice in her veins. While it may be a bit of a harsh statement, millions of country music fans around the world probably agree with the sentiment.It is hard to imagine, if given the chance, that just about everyone couldn’t find a bit of themselves, a shared emotion or a common experience in the vocal vignettes of country music.Take this nugget for example, from superstars Brooks and Dunn’s popular “Red Dirt Road”:”Her daddy didn’t like me muchWith my shackled up GTOI’d sneak out in the middle of the nightThrow rocks at her bedroom window

We’d turn out the headlightsDrive by the moonlightTalk about what the future might holdDown a red dirt road”Even if you haven’t ever done it, it sort of makes you want to. Brooks and Dunn will likely sing this tune tomorrow night at their outdoor concert in Beaver Creek, and if Ronnie Dunn has his way, it won’t be the only song that pulls on your nostalgic heart strings.

“There’s a fire and a kick and a passion that comes through on the best music,” says Dunn. “When it’s happening, that deeper thing rips its way out. In the midst of this revival thing disguised as a party – which is what we try to do on our good nights – you can tell there’s more to it than just singing songs people know. It’s an age-old thing: Appeal to the emotions and the heart will follow.”Dunn can make a statement like this with authority too, as one half of the biggest-selling musical duo ever, across all genres, except for Simon and Garfunkel. An unlikely pair, neither Dunn or Kix Brooks found success as a solo act, but together, their rocked-up honky tonk, toe-tapping tunes and pop-tinged ballads have made them superstars. Leon Eric “Kix” Brooks was born in Shreveport, La., and began singing with country legend Johnny Horton’s daughter when he was just 12. After a stint on the Alaskan oil pipeline, Brooks moved to Maine and made a living playing at the ski resorts and other local venues. He made it to Nashville in the early ’80s and became a successful songwriter penning hits for greats such as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.Meanwhile, Ronnie Gene Dunn, born in Coleman, Texas, was following a very different path to Nashville. Even though he had been playing with string bands since he was a teenager, Dunn initially wanted to be a Baptist Minister. Fortunately for millions of faithful fans, he was kicked out of the conservative Abilene Christian University for playing music on the side in area bars. When one door closes another opens, and Dunn found himself pursuing music full time in Tulsa. He won a songwriting contest and the prize included a recording session in Nashville. His tape was passed on to Arista executive Tim DuBois who also knew of Brooks. He introduced the two, got them playing together and promptly signed them to a contract.Good move Mr. DuBois. The award-winning, multi-platinum duo debuted their first album, Brand New Man, in 1991. The title track, “My Next Broken Heart,” “Neon Moon,” and “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” all hit number one on the country charts. Since then, they have won the Vocal Duo Award of the Country Music Association every year, 1992 through 2004 (except for 2000), as well as CMA Album of the Year for 1994 and Entertainer of the Year for 1996. The beloved, talented team is renown for their high-energy, interactive live shows. “Whether you’re in a beer joint or the coliseum, songs move people and people move us,” says Brooks. “When you’re up there rocking, and they’re giving it back, you just plug into that energy. That’s strong stuff – and we like it strong. When you can move ’em with your music it’s pretty great. And that’s what we’re here to do. All kinds of stuff comes and goes, that doesn’t – it’s what makes us wanna keep doin’ this.”

Tickets are available at the Vilar Center for $62 including fees. Call 845-TIXS or visit to buy them. Red Dirt RoadBrooks and Dunn7 p.m. ThursdayBeaver Creek South LawnVail Colorado

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