Ronnie Dunn made his now solo Boston debut on November 30, 2011 in a small bar room setting – okay, a big bar room setting. In any event, a bar room setting. In fact, it was Toby Keith’s Bar in Foxborough, MA and it was the I Love This Bar & Grill official Grand Opening !
This Boston Country Radio 102.5 WKLB hosted event sold the $100 VIP tickets out f-a-s-t. And it was evident by the size of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd that there wasn’t much hesitation in laying down $50 for a regular ticket to the evening’s festivities.
Personally, I love small, intimate, bar room type settings where you get to really see and hear the artist up close. And I suppose with an 85-foot red, white & blue guitar-shaped bar taking center stage and plenty of elbow and dancing room to spare, this anything-but-honky-tonk bar shouldn’t be called small.
But Dunn is a solo artist now and breaking away from the previously successful performance pack to embark on one’s own doesn’t have a historically huge success rate. So …
I Couldn’t Help But Wonder . . .
I couldn’t help but wonder what a solo Ronnie Dunn performance might be like. Having been a big fan of the Brooks & Dunn legacy, I wondered if it would feel as if something were missing, if Ronnie would perform any Brooks & Dunn favorites or if he would confine his debut to his outstanding self-titled solo album, sharing stories about the songs and breaking ground on his solo act.
Likewise, I couldn’t help but wonder what run through Ronnie’s mind as he embarked on his solo venture. Were his thoughts troubled with concerns of how receptive the crowds would be and if the crowds would feel something was missing – did he wonder whether audiences would receive his solo debut with open hearts or if they were looking more to hear Brooks & Dunn hits sung by Ronnie Dunn.
Good God Almighty, I had butterflies in my stomach and I wondered if I was the only one worried.
The Moment of Truth . . .
Then the moment of truth came. Ronnie hit the stage, the crowd hit a howling receptive uproar and there was no doubt Ronnie was ready to maintain the momentum. “Mama don’t get it”, he exploded, “Preacher don’t understand / why I’m a Singer in a Cowboy Band.”
Well maybe mama and the preacher don’t understand but with Whiskey Girls servin’ and beer in mason jars sloshin’, it was not-so-quietly understood that this “new solo act” was an old friend and quite welcome in Boston. And it appeared every attendee was more than happy they’d laid down $50-$100 for a ticket to Ronnie Dunn’s performance of not only his solo Boston debut but the official opening of Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar & Grill” in Foxborough, MA.
Ronnie continued entertaining the crowd with stories (of his COWBOY tattoo), took us down the “Red Dirt Road” and fired up the crowd with “Play Something Country” and other favorite Brooks & Dunn tracks. He was “rockin’, rollin’ // mixin’ up the fast with the slow ones.” His mariachi, south-of-the-border “How Far to Waco” beat hit an upbeat chord with everyone suggesting it’s okay to let go of our “Cost of Living” concerns even if just for an evening.
“We All Bleed Red”, Dunn reminded us with his moving ballad. But don’t let him convince you that “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” because when he broke into that number I almost broke down. And if Ronnie sensed a tear in the air, he let you have your moment then picked the mood back up again sharing stories and personal tidbits (his soon-to-be grandfather status) and of course, jokes about his long time B&D duo partner, “whats-his-name” explaining that Kix is busy doing “some publishing thing”.
Last Call . . .
Last call came well after Ronnie’s last number. But this Boston crowd confirmed Ronnie Dunn is one outstanding artist, vocalist and storyteller. And this “Singer in a Cowboy Band” will have no trouble roping in a successful solo career and is more than welcome to stay in Boston “til the good Lord calls him home”.
Be sure to take a moment to check out the new home of this old favorite at Ronnie Dunn’s Website.
And while you’re waiting for him to come to a town near you, watch and vote for “Cost of Living” and “Bleed Red”, two of the three “Ronnie Dunn” releases nominated for CMT Top 30 Videos of 2011 (voting ends December 21, 2011).
Ronnie Dunn – Cost of Livin’
Ronnie Dunn – Bleed Red