Ronnie Dunn Relishes the ‘Primal’ Stage Experience
Ronnie Dunn spent 20 years burning up the roads as half of one of the most successful duos in country music, so when Brooks & Dunn parted ways a few years back, you’d think the last place he’d want to be these days is back riding a tour bus and playing smaller venues around the country. But that’s exactly where he wants to be, and still lives for that interaction with the crowds, no matter what the size.
“It’s real primal; I just like playing music,” Ronnie tells the Anniston Star. “People ask you all the time, ‘Why do you do this? Why don’t you quit, man, take your money and go home?’ I just do it because I love making music. I’m writing more than I ever have, and in the process of recording solo record number two. Everywhere we play, it’s just fun. I don’t care if it’s the back of a trailer, we just don’t care. All we care about is playing good music and delivering a good show, if it’s 15 people or 15,000.”
Going back from arena crowds to more intimate shows has enabled Ronnie to really get back in touch with the fans, and he says it’s definitely helped in determining what they like and respond to material-wise.
“What I’ve learned by going out and playing smaller venues and being more in touch with people is getting feedback, just by virtue of being able to watch the crowd react and watch their faces instead of being blinded by 3,000 spotlights. I’ve realized that you can quickly get out of touch with your audience if you’re not careful.”
Ronnie also found that returning to the scene as a solo artist required some extra work on his part and has been a bit of a learning curve for some of the audience and fans who were accustomed to seeing him as part of the longtime duo.
“I do have to step out and take time to let people know that I’m Ronnie Dunn and not Brooks and Dunn. I worked with some promoters up in Canada a few months ago, and the first show I did, the guys pulled me back and went, ‘You know, we did McCartney when he broke away and started his solo deal. You’re going to have to work maybe a little overtime — and this may surprise you — to let people know who you are, because they associate you with a group.’ It’s “Brooks and Dunn;” a lot of people didn’t know who Ronnie Dunn was.”
Ronnie recently remixed one of the tunes from his solo debut, “Let the Cowboy Rock,” for the Professional Bull Riders organization, and debuted a video of the song at a PBR Nashville event last month. The new video will be played at PBR events throughout the year for their millions of fans.
Watch Ronnie Dunn’s ‘Let the Cowboy Rock’ Video