Monday, June 11, 2012

Kix & Brooks Still A Hard Workin' Man

(From Sunday's Times and News-Star)

Country music star Kix Brooks worked on Memorial Day Monday, but not singing.

I found this most impressive when I got him on the telephone on a holiday. Most of us have the impression that your big music stars write a song, sing it, then take a couple of months off to fish or hunt or watch “Hee Haw.”

Not Kix & Brooks, the name I like to call him just because. As you know, Shreveport’s Kix & Brooks was part of the most successful duo in country music history: Brooks & Dunn sold more than 30 million albums, scored 23 No. 1’s and became the most awarded act in country music’s storied history during their 20-year partnership, one that ended two years ago when the friends decided to take a break to pursue solo stuff.

So while it is doubtful Kix & Brooks has to work another day in his life, he does. He co-owns a Nashville-area vineyard and in mid-March released the single “New To This Town,” a song he co-wrote with a pair of Nashville friends; it’s his first solo release and features the familiar sound of Joe Walsh, guitar stud extraordinaire, who might have worked Memorial Day Monday but I doubt it because I just can’t see Joe Walsh working with anything but a Fender.

Like the title song of the Brooks & Dunn’93 album that yielded five hits, the accomplished Brooks is still a “Hard Workin’ Man.”

"Today I’m working on the (radio) show; got to be in the studio for an interview at 10, and then the countdown show,” he said from his Tennessee home.

Brooks would be asking the questions during the 10 a.m. interview, not giving the answers, as he’s the host of the nationally syndicated “American Country Countdown.”

“We’re in our fifth year now and just negotiated three more years with Cumulus,” he said. “I’m also starting to host a five-day-a-week overnight show. “I never realized what a good job this (deejaying) was,” he said. “I’m a musician and songwriter at heart, but that’s also why Cumulus was interested in hiring me -- I have the inside track on some of these people. Plus they know I love to hear myself talk.”

A speech communication major at Louisiana Tech and ’78 graduate, Brooks worked while in school and now is investing in a bug that bit him in Ruston. In the past two years he’s acted in “To Kill A Memory” and “Thriftstore Cowboy,” two completed but not-yet-released western movies, and become a partner in Team Two Entertainment, a production company.

“Shooting the ‘South of Santa Fe’ video years ago (with Dunn) reminded me that I did want to go back and get into acting or production,” he said.

His professional record or resume should serve to show any undergrad that all country songs or country lives don’t have to end in heartache. If you’re trying to decide this summer whether to stay or go back to school, Brooks’ willingness to keep showing up should serve as inspiration.

“One thing school does is give you a sense of responsibility: having deadlines, studying for a test, preparing for the school play. You have deadlines,” he said. “I see it all the time with writers and entertainers: ‘I’m gonna do that,’ but a lot of them never follow through. School teaches you that at some point, you have to be ready, whether it’s getting a song finished in time to play for an artist or whatever.”