After two decades and 30 million albums, Brooks and Dunn decided to part ways to pursue their own projects. Dunn released his first solo album, “Ronnie Dunn,” last year, and scored his first solo Billboard hit with the song “Bleed Red.”
Dunn will hit the stage Thursday at the Anniston Performing Arts Center in the season opener of the Knox Concert Series. Earlier this week, he spoke about the right-sized venue, defining his image post-Brooks, and if he will or won’t boot-scoot when he starts to play.
What is it about small towns that keeps attracting you?
It’s real primal; I just like playing music. 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 No. 2. 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.
What have you learned between your first and second solo albums?
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.
Do you feel that you’ve had to work extra hard to define Ronnie Dunn?
I don’t feel the difference in the work; 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.
What is a Ronnie Dunn show like?
It’s hard to describe. It’s something new. …I do a few of the old Brooks and Dunn [songs] – probably mix it up half and half with new stuff, and I’ll probably throw in stuff that I’m working on that hasn’t even been on the solo record. It’s a lot more spontaneous. I don’t have to adhere to a set list, so we can literally make it up as we go. If the crowd’s rockin,’ they want to rock, we’ll go. If they want to chill out and chat between songs, we can do that, too. I have that freedom now’ didn’t have it before.
Presented by Knox Concert Series
• 7:30 p.m. Thursday
• Anniston Performing Arts Center, 13th Street and Woodstock Avenue.
• For tickets, call Lee Merrill at 256-741-8262 or email email@example.com.
Knox Concert Series
Dec. 2: “The Nutcracker” performed by the Alabama Ballet.
Dec. 21: Celtic Woman: Christmas Celebration – Symphony Tour.
Jan. 19: China National Symphony Orchestra.
Feb. 22: Russian National Ballet Theatre – Gala Program.
March 14: “A Chorus Line” – The Musical
All performances are at 7:30 p.m. at Anniston Performing Arts Center. Single general admission tickets are $50-$75; reserved seats are $80-$105. Season tickets are $160; student season tickets are $75. For more info, call Lee Merrill at 256-741-8262 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.