Country music's top-selling duo, Brooks & Dunn, are boot scootin' their separate ways after nearly 20 years together. Wichita-area fans can catch their farewell tour, dubbed the Last Rodeo, at Intrust Bank Arena on Thursday.
Last August, the pair announced they were splitting up. They've taken the year to release a greatest hits compilation ("#1 ... And Then Some") and say goodbye to their legions of fans.
"We've really chased everything that we know how to chase musically, as far as our stage shows," Kix Brooks said in an interview with CNN in February. "Neither one of us wanted to do this in the first place! We got put together and we said, 'What the heck? We'll give it a shot. And then next thing you know, it's 20 years later.' "
In 1990 Arista Records paired aspiring musicians Brooks and Ronnie Dunn (now 54 and 56, respectively). Most blind dates don't have such fruitful results.
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From the start, the act differed from typical, harmony-oriented country duos.
"We've never had very good harmonies, honestly," says Brooks, 54. "We've always bounced around in our own little worlds on the stage. It's been a unique and different kind of chemistry."
That chemistry has come from combining Texas swings and shuffles, a rocking honky-tonk and the occasional vocal tour de force that has quietly gained Dunn a reputation as one of the genre's finest singers. Among their many hits: "Boot Scootin' Boogie," "Brand New Man" and "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone."
Brooks & Dunn have sold more than 30 million albums, released 23 No. 1 hits and nabbed more than 80 awards, including the 2010 Academy of Country Music Award for Top Vocal Duo, an honor they're received 16 times now.
The their final tour comes amid much speculation about supposed strains between the two, who were struggling solo artists when then-Arista Records President Tim DuBois put them together in 1990.
A sampling of reviews from the tour suggests Dunn looks distant and ready to move on, while Brooks is his usual, energetic self. Jon Bream of the Minneapolis Tribune referred to Dunn's "tired face" and "indifferent body language" at the May 14 show in St. Paul, Minn.
Earlier this year, the duo announced it would return to the home of country music for their last ever concert; they will bid farewell to fans in Nashville on Aug. 10.
The concert will raise money for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's All for the Hall initiative. It will take place a year after Brooks & Dunn announced they were dissolving their musical partnership.
If you go
brooks & dunn
What: Concert by the country duo, with opening act Jason Aldean
Where: Intrust Bank Arena, 500 E. Waterman
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
How much: Tickets $49.75 and $65.75 available at the arena box office or Select-A-Seat outlets. Charge by phone, 316-755-SEAT, online at www.selectaseat.com.