Kix Brooks' recordings with Ronnie Dunn have sold in the millions, but he wasn't in the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center earlier this month to perform.
Rather, he was there to watch his horse-riding wife, Barbara, compete in a final round of the Augusta Futurity.
Patiently, Mr. Brooks stood on the main floor of the arena Feb. 3, holding the reins of a friend's horse while his wife prepared for the final round of the Futurity Non-Pro event.
She placed 10th in a field of 21 and earned her third finalist cutting horse buckle for the Futurity.
"She has doing great," Mr. Brooks said of his wife, who rode the final night of the show on her 4-year-old mare, Playboys Lil Peppy. "I've never seen her enjoy anything more. It's the first time in her life for her to be in a real competitive atmosphere."
Mrs. Brooks, who also competed in the Augusta Futurity last year, grew up outside Boston.
"My parents think it's real funny that I'm a cowgirl now," Mrs. Brooks said. "For Christmas of 1993, Kix gave me a horse. It was one of our most romantic moments. We went down to his dad's farm in Louisiana for Thanksgiving, and we got there late at night.
"He said, `Let's go see the longhorns.' He and Ronnie had given each other a pair of longhorns. We got a flashlight, and, out of the corner of my eye, as we passed one of the pens, I saw something white come up to the fence. I went over to this pretty paint horse and said, `Aren't you beautiful? Who do you belong to?' Kix said, `Can't you guess?"'
The Futurity offered a bit of respite for Mr. Brooks.
Nothing About You, the new Brooks & Dunn single, was released in late January. Their new album, Steers and Stripes, is due in April. They plan to film a video for the new single in Nashville.
Brooks & Dunn will launch a 60-city tour, the Neon Circus and Wild West Show, on April 27 in Birmingham, Ala.
"We'll have a troupe of circus performers and Wild West performers, including a hatchet thrower," Mr. Brooks said.
The entourage is so massive it will require 12 buses, eight trucks and 40 crew and show members. Opening acts include Toby Keith, Montgomery Gentry and Keith Urban.
"Gibson (the guitar company) is putting together a show truck that will have some of our guitars and other show stuff on display for our fans."
Mr. Brooks' favorite guitar is a Gibson Les Paul J200 acoustic.
The duo's hits include Neon Moon, My Maria, Boot Scootin' Boogie, Rock My World, She Used To Be Mine, My Next Broken Heart and That Ain't No Way To Go. They met at a lunch with songwriter and Nashville/Arista Records chief Tim DuBois.
"For us, these past 10 years have been so incredible," Mr. Brooks said. "We both had been through so many years of trying with failed record deals and everything being a struggle. Our first four singles out of the box were all No. 1 hits. It's been spooky how everything has worked out for us."
Mr. Brooks credits not only their hit records but also their reputation for high-energy, flashy stage shows.
"Our live performances have a lot to do with it," he said. "We have reinvested in Brooks & Dunn, so we have good production with our shows. We do want our fans to hear good music, but we also want our fans to say, `Wow! Look at that!"'
Don Rhodes has written about country music for 30 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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