Cowboy Corner

Cowboy Corner
By Michael W. Stout

Brooks and Dunn Riding Off Into the Sunset

In a surprise announcement on their official website last month, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, better known as country super-duo Brooks and Dunn, announced that they are hanging up their hats as a duo and riding into the musical sunset. Their statement read: "To Our Fans: After 20 years of making music and riding this trail together, we have agreed as a duo that it's time to call it a day. This ride has been everything and more than we could ever have dreamed.... We owe it all to you, the fans. If you hear rumors, don't believe them, it's just time. We will release our #1's and Then Some on September 8th and bid you farewell one last time in 2010, with The Last Rodeo Tour...(dates to be announced). [signed] Brooks and Dunn."

Brooks and Dunn was formed as a duo in 1991 when record executives paired the two struggling singer/songwriters together for an attempt at a musical duo, which has proceeded to garner over 30 million records sold, twenty-four Academy of Country Music awards (fifteen as Top Vocal Duo), 20 #1 hits, 19 Country Music Association awards (fourteen as Vocal Duo of the Year) and two Grammys. The magic began with the release of their debut album, Brand New Man, in 1991. The early fan-favorite "Boot Scootin' Boogie" made BandD a household name and their Grammy-winning "My Maria" took their career to a whole new level. The duo has maintained its ability to pull in large concert audiences as they remain consummate performers with the rare ability to continually reinvent themselves and please the crowds.

Brooks and Dunn have not announced what they'll do with their time following the last BandD curtain call, but they'll likely continue to at least write and produce music, if not pursue solo careers. Before hanging up their hats as a duo, BandD will be touring a farewell tour, appropriately titled "The Last Rodeo Tour," next year. On September 8 their #1's and Then Some two-disc CD will hit stores. The disc will include the following track list: Disc: 1 1. Honky Tonk Stomp (featuring Billy Gibbons), 2. Brand New Man, 3. Ain't Nothing 'Bout You, 4. Hillbilly Deluxe, 5. How Long Gone, 6. She's Not The Cheatin' Kind, 7. A Man This Lonely, 8. Rock My World (Little Country Girl), 9. Red Dirt Road, 10. The Long Goodbye, 11. You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone, 12. If You See Him/If You See Her (with Reba McEntire), 13. She Used To Be Mine, 14. That Ain't No Way To Go, 15. Boot Scootin' Boogie. Disc: 2 1. Indian Summer, 2. Play Something Country, 3. My Next Broken Heart, 4. Cowgirls Don't Cry (featuring Reba McEntire), 5. Lost And Found, 6. Little Miss Honky Tonk, 7. It's Getting Better All The Time, 8. We'll Burn That Bridge, 9. He's Got You, 10. Only In America, 11. I Am That Man, 12. Husbands and Wives, 13. Neon Moon, 14. My Maria, 15. Believe.

We'd like to thank Kix and Ronnie for two decades of great music and wish them the best in their future endeavors!

Wynonna's Knowledge Aids Kentucky Charity

Last month Kentucky's favorite rockin' bluesy, country songstress and native daughter Wynonna Judd made her home state and country fans proud when she competed on ABC-Television's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? with host Regis Philbin. With the help of her "Phone-a-Friend" lifeline, her Aunt Margaret Mandell, Judd won an impressive $50,000 for her favorite charity, Backpack Mission Ministries. This charity helps feed underprivileged children in the Appalachian Mountains of rural Kentucky and Tennessee by providing over 350 children between the ages of three and fifteen with backpacks full of non-perishable food every Friday for them to survive the weekend until they can resume regular breakfast and lunch meals at school on Monday. They also provide food for these children during school's summer vacation and provide boxes of food for their families when needed. For more information regarding Backpack Mission Ministries, log onto www.backpackmission.com.

Congratulations, Wynonna, and keep up the good work!

Steel Magnilia CAN Certainly Duet

Country Music Television's Can You Duet reality competition, which searches for the next country music duo — the next George and Tammy, the next Kix and Ronnie, the next Porter and Dolly — crowned its second winner early last month. Steel Magnolia, which is real-life lovebirds Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones, was named the 2009 Can You Duet champ by celebrity judges Naomi Judd, Big and Rich's Big Kenny, and the duo's brand new boss, Big Machine Records president Scott Borchetta. Linsey and Jones were awarded a recording contract on Big Machine Records, the home of Taylor Swift, Jack Ingram, and Trisha Yearwood. Ponchatoula, Louisiana native Linsey and Charleston, Illinois boy Jones met at a downtown Nashville Printers Alley karaoke bar Linsey was working at three years ago and have been dating since.

Steel Magnolia's debut single, "Keep on Lovin' You," is currently available for download on iTunes.

Congratulations, Meghan and Joshua!

Cindy Walker Leaves Mark on Country Music Hall of Fame

The late Country Music Hall of Famer Cindy Walker has left a lasting mark on downtown Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame. Although the famed songwriter passed away in 2006, it was just announced last month that she willed her entire catalog of songs to the CMHF, meaning that all future royalties for all of her songs, including "Cherokee Maiden" and "You Don't Know Me," will benefit the hallowed organization. Song royalties are paid to songwriters whenever a song is played or performed, whether on the radio, live in concert or in a television show or movie; therefore these continual royalties will now help fund country music's posterity. In a note she wrote to her "babies" (meaning her beloved songs) prior to her death, Walker thanked them for making her rich and famous and assured them that she was giving them a good home by donating them to the CMHF.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum trustee David Conrad further announced last month that a twelve-song demo of Walker's songs is being recorded to help sell these songs to television and movie producers for inclusion in their future projects, therefore generating more income for the CMHF. Conrad and fellow country music producers Vince Gill, Tony Brown, and Fred Foster will each produce four songs for this special demo of Walker classics.

Country Heavy Metal

Country trio Rascal Flatts remains unstoppable these days as their ticket sales and CD sales continue to soar. Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus recently sold their 4 millionth concert ticket and their new album, appropriately titled Unstoppable, was just certified platinum for sales of one million copies, making their career sales total more than 20 million CDs and over 10.5 million digital downloads.

Rock fans know Darius Rucker as the frontman for Hootie and the Blowfish, but country fans know him as a whole different artist. Rucker's debut country album, Learn to Live, has taken the music industry by storm, being recently certified platinum for sales of one million copies. Rucker also recently accomplished a feat which hasn't occurred in almost two decades, when he earned his third #1 single from his debut album, "Alright" (following #1's "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" and "It Won't Be Like this for Long").

Nineteen-year-old Taylor Swift's music continues to make big splashes around the globe as her sophomore album Fearless has earned 14 gold and platinum certifications worldwide. The disc has almost sold 4 million copies (quadruple-platinum) in America, it has been certified triple-platinum in Australia (210,000 copies) and Canada (240,000), and platinum in Indonesia (150,000), Ireland (15,000), Malaysia (20,000), New Zealand (15,000), Singapore (12,000), and Taiwan (14,000). It has also earned gold certifications in Hong Kong, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, and the UK. And while we're on the subject of Swift's success, her "You Belong With Me" will compete for the Best Female Video award at MTV's VMA awards on September 20.

Country Honors

On September 9, Vince Gill will be honored by the Recording Academy as the first honoree of the Grammy Salute to Country Music. The event will be held at Nashville's Loveless Barn and will include appearances by Gill's wife Amy Grant, Alison Krauss, Steve Martin, Michael McDonald and Brad Paisley. Recording Academy president Neil Portnow says this special honor "celebrates the work of extraordinary people and organizations that continue to ensure that these genres remain a vital part of our culture."

Lee Ann Womack will host the 2nd Annual ACM Honors at downtown Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony on September 22. This ceremony will recognize the special off-camera honorees from this year's 44th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards which were broadcast live from Las Vegas in April. Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award honorees are the late Jerry Reed, Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, and Hank Williams, Jr. Dolly Parton will receive the Jim Reeves International Award, retired ACM exec David Young the Mae Boren Axton Award, Merle Haggard and the late Harlan Howard the Poet's Award, and Toby Keith will receive the Tex Ritter Award for his Beer for My Horses movie.

Congratulations, Vince, Jerry, Kenny, Randy, Hank, Dolly, David, Merle, Harlan and Toby!

Country Codas

Ninety-four-year-old guitarist extraordinaire and inventor Lester William Polsfuss, better known as Les Paul, passed away from complications from pneumonia in White Plains, New York on August 13. Paul invented the first sold-body guitar in 1940 or 1941 and is also credited for developing the multi-track recording and tape delay recording techniques. He built the first Les Paul model guitar for Gibson instruments in 1952 and replicas of early Les Paul models from the 1950's remain popular today. Paul has left a mark on guitarists from all genres of music, including country music. He even won a Grammy along with Chet Atkins for their 1976 country instrumental album Chester and Lester, which was followed up two years later by Chester and Lester, Guitar Monsters.

After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July, 65-year-old Confederate Railroad steel guitarist Warren "Gates" Nichols passed away last month in Dallas, Georgia. Nichols was with Confederate Railroad for 17 years, retiring late last year. Confederate Railroad earned success with hits "Trashy Women," "Daddy Never Was the Cadillac Kind," "Jesus and Mama," and "Queen of Memphis."

Well, that's it for another month, and another summer. Always remember: "Keep your boots shined up and your hat on straight, ‘cause country music is comin' your way."