Brooks & Dunn Ready Second 'Neon Circus' Tour

Still providing some of country's most consistent box-office muscle in what has been a mostly tepid touring genre of late, Brooks & Dunn will reprise their Neon Circus & Wild West Show extrava

Still providing some of country's most consistent box-office muscle in what has been a mostly tepid touring genre of late, Brooks & Dunn will reprise their Neon Circus & Wild West Show extravaganza in 2002, Billboard reveals in the Jan. 19 issue. Set to begin April 12 in Madison, Wis., the tour will feature a lineup of headliners Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, along with support from Dwight Yoakam, Gary Allan, Trick Pony, and Chris Cagle. Hosted by comedian Cledus T. Judd, the tour will feature expanded concourse elements, including side-show-styled performers, secondary stages, and other attractions.

Last year, the tour was one of the few bright spots in a mostly unremarkable year for country touring. With a stout lineup that included Toby Keith, Montgomery Gentry, and Keith Urban, the tour grossed more than $17 million and drew close to 600,000 people, putting it in the league of such established genre-based multi-artist packages as the venerable Ozzfest.

"It was incredible -- a ton of fun," Brooks says of last year's tour. "We've always had a lot of fun touring, but these guys last year didn't like to quit." Dunn says the initial run of the Neon Circus & Wild West Show far exceeded expectations. "It was kind of an experiment for us," he says. "We didn't know how it was going to go over, especially with a country audience, because it kind of has a rock flair to it. We think the seed was planted in very fertile soil."

Much as Keith provided marquee value last year, bringing Yoakam into the mix has real value and is quite a coup, according to the duo. "This is a high-tech, 'carnie' show, and Dwight is perfect for it," Dunn says. "He's got 'hip' written all over him." For his part, Yoakam says, "The Neon Circus tour seemed to me like a fun outing, done in kind of a carnival spirit of the old West shows. I was very flattered to be asked to be a part of the madness, and I am more than willing to take the 'Bakersfield Biscuit' aura out there and stomp around with them. We're gonna rope and ride and have some fun."

Brooks & Dunn enjoyed a career boost throughout 2001, with the tour surely playing a big role in terms of momentum and the Arista album "Steers and Stripes," which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart. "A lot of stuff hasn't affected us, in regard to trends," Dunn says. "If you can establish a fan base and find ways through the music and shows to keep them coming back and buying records, you'll be OK."