Ronnie Dunn to play Hollywood Casino Aug. 2Written by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When it comes to music, Ronnie Dunn is ready to gamble.
“Everyone’s going, ‘Well, at your age and juncture in your career, they expect you to play it safe,’ and that’s just the opposite of what I want to do,” the country superstar said. “I don’t want to come with 101 stock, play-by-the-rules, do-what-the-system-dictates-you-do country music; I want to do what I do, and that’s a broad spectrum for me.
“And this is the first time in as far as I can remember that I’ve been in a position to be able to do that.”
His new single, “Kiss You There,” is a fun, funky country track about planting one on your love in notable locales, including “standing in front of the Mona Lisa,” “on the 50-yard-line in Dallas” and even “top of the wheel at the fair in Ohio.”
“I just got a notice [Wednesday] it made the USA Today top 10 tracks; it’s the second in line right behind Pitbull’s ‘Baby’s Got Back’ or something like that,” Dunn said and laughed, referring to the rapper’s duet with Flor Rida, “Can’t Believe It.”
“Kiss You There” was written by Don Schlitz and Josh Kear.
“I heard it and it was almost like a hip-hop demo; the vocal had a weird effect on it, and actually there was no melody to the verses. I took it and reversed the verses … and then kind of assigned a melody to it, and went in with the guys and said, ‘Hey, let’s try something different.’ I love the vibe, the way it felt.”
Where’s the most memorable location Dunn has kissed his wife, Janine?
“Let me see, hang on now — I have to get this right. I think it was in the kitchen of her ex-boyfriend’s house,” he said during a call from his Nashville home.
That song is from the singer-songwriter’s second solo disc, “Country This,” which will be out in November.
He talked about another new track, “Peace, Love and Country Music,” from the forthcoming CD.
“I’ve had it for years and tried to cut it, and the label wouldn’t let me do it back in the Brooks & Dunn days; they had a different opinion, I guess, which, believe me, it may cause me to go off on a rant on how cool it is to be on my own label right now and be able to find and pick out without the committee’s input songs I want to do. I promise you I never would have been able to do ‘Kiss You There’ or a bunch of the songs that are on this new record had it not been for the fact that we’ve gone pseudo-independent with Little Will-E Records,” Dunn said.
“I did a tornado benefit just a few weeks ago in Oklahoma with Garth [Brooks] and Toby [Keith], and I used [‘Peace, Love and Country Music’] as a closing song just to get the reception from several thousands of people there to sing the chorus at the end, and it’s unreal. It was so much fun that I recorded it with that crowd noise layered over it; we’ve gone back and enhanced it before the release, and it’s awesome.”
It’s been nearly three years since fans cheered at the final concert Dunn and Kix Brooks played together. During two decades, the multiple-Grammy Awarding-winning duo sold more than 30 million records thanks to hits that included “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” “Neon Moon,” “Red Dirt Road,” “Believe” and “My Maria.”
The two met in 1990.
“I didn’t think it would work; neither one of us did,” Dunn recalled. “We thought we’d just use it to a bridge to something else and 20 years later here, we built quite a bridge.”
With so much success, Dunn felt pressure recording his 2011 self-titled solo debut.
“I was still with Sony. I had not been able to break the ties, and I was being pressured to actually come out with the first single during Brooks & Dunn’s last tour; that’s how the corporate monster feeds,” he said. “So it was kind of crazy, and I didn’t have the freedom being with a major label then to really fight it effectively. So it was tough threading the needle; it felt a little uncomfortable.”
But he was back on the charts with “Bleed Red,” “Cost of Livin’ ” and “Let the Cowboy Ride.”
Dunn will be at the Hollywood Casino at 8 p.m. Aug. 2. Tickets are $45.
He loves live shows: “I think it’s just like you have a plane sitting in the yard and being able to get in it and fly around; it’s a rush.”