Kix Brooks strikes out solo with 'New to This Town'.

After 20 years as half of veteran hitmaking duo Brooks & Dunn alongside Ronnie Dunn, Kix Brooks is returning to solo status with the Sept. 11 release of "New to This Town" on Sony Nashville/Arista.

Although he sang lead on such hits as 1992's "Lost and Found," 1994's "Rock My World (Little Country Girl)" and 1995's two-week chart-topper "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone," Brooks' voice hasn't been on country radio in a while. "Ronnie is a great singer, and people got used to hearing him on our records," Brooks says of Dunn, who issued his own self-titled solo set last year. "From one side of things, I get a bit of a clean slate. I don't think this music is really what Ronnie and I were doing by any means. You just have your fingers crossed that people are going to at least be curious and want to hear what you are doing."

Brooks recorded nearly 50 songs before culling them down to the dozen that made the album. "When I first started playing music in college, we were playing Allman Brothers, the [Rolling] Stones and Leon Russell, as well as Willie [Nelson] and Jerry Jeff [Walker] and Johnny Cash," Brooks says. "So this is a gumbo that I've been stirring for a whole lot of years."

Brooks produced every track except for the first single/title track, which he co-produced with Rascal Flatts' Jay DeMarcus. "New to This Town" features a guest appearance by the Eagles' Joe Walsh on guitar and peaked at No. 31 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart in July, marking the first solo single Brooks has charted since "Sacred Ground" in 1989, when he had a deal with Capitol.

Before amicably parting ways after the Last Rodeo tour two years ago, Brooks & Dunn charted 60 singles, including 20 No. 1s, and won multiple Academy of Country Music and Country Music Assn. awards. Brooks' longtime manager, Clarence Spalding of Spalding Entertainment, says that even with such a track record, rebooting an established act is difficult. "I was with them for 19 years. We just had this fabulous run," he says. "Then you decide that you want to stop being a duo and now we're going to be solo acts. It doesn't matter that you sold 30-plus million records and had umpteen No. 1s. Now you're standing on your own. There's a lot of history there, and you're always compared to what Brooks & Dunn did. It's a challenge."

Brooks is tackling this challenge with a packed promotional schedule. He will appear on "Good Morning America" on Sept. 12, ABC's "CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock" on Sept. 17 and on repeated airings of "Noteworthy on the Opry: Men of Country" on the GAC channel this month. Starting Sept. 4, Amazon began streaming the album and continues until street date. Meanwhile, AOL's the Boot is posting an exclusive "Kix on Kix" video in which Brooks interviews himself about his new album.

Brooks also hosts the syndicated radio show "American Country Countdown." He co-owns Arrington Vineyards, a popular winery south of Nashville. Plus he's formed a film production company that has four releases in the pipeline, including "To Kill a Memory," a western based on a song Brooks and Randy Houser wrote, and in which Brooks has the leading role.

Despite this full plate, Brooks is pushing the album with the enthusiasm of a new artist. "He went into it with the attitude that we're going to do everything that is asked of us, just as if I was managing a new act," Spalding says. "And Kix has done all of that -- every radio show, every interview. There's nothing that Kix said 'no' to."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print