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Brooks and Dunn’s return to live concerts includes a stop in Tampa

The country duo play the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Oct. 8. We talked to Ronnie Dunn ahead of the show.
Ronnie Dunn, left, and Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn at the CMA Awards in Nashville in 2019. The duo will play in Tampa on Oct. 8, 2021.
Ronnie Dunn, left, and Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn at the CMA Awards in Nashville in 2019. The duo will play in Tampa on Oct. 8, 2021. [ Evan Agostini/Invision/AP ]
Published Oct. 4
Updated Oct. 4

Fans of country music duo Brooks and Dunn may be wondering what prompted their first nationwide tour in 10 years. The answer is pretty simple, according to Ronnie Dunn.

“We were bored,” he joked. “Especially after this COVID stuff, we all had ‘cat in the cage’ syndrome.”

We talked to Dunn via phone just ahead of the tour, which kicked off in September. The duo, which includes Dunn and Kix Brooks, will stop in Tampa on Oct. 8 at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre as part of their Reboot 2021 tour. Travis Tritt and Elvie Shane are guests on the tour.

One of the most successful duos in music, they started in 1991 and broke up in 2010. Amid speculation as to why, Dunn quipped at their farewell concert in Tampa: “I’m going to tell you why Brooks and Dunn are breaking up. ‘Cause I didn’t get to wear the hat! I’ve been bitter for 20 years.”

Dunn said he still doesn’t wear a cowboy hat, despite owning a collection of them. When he puts one on, he said, his wife tells him to take it off.

Jokes about the hat aside, Dunn said it’s good for any artist or group to take breaks and come back with a fresh approach. He’s always creating new music to include in the duo’s concerts.

The breakup didn’t last too long. In 2015, the duo teamed up with Reba McEntire for the longest-running country music residency in Las Vegas. It was halted by the pandemic, but “Reba, Brooks & Dunn: Together in Vegas” will resume at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in December.

The duo landed back on the charts in 2019 with the collaboration project album Reboot. It featured re-recordings of some of their most beloved songs, done as duets with contemporary country artists including Luke Combs, the Brothers Osborne and Kacey Musgraves. With fan favorites including Boot Scootin’ Boogie, Neon Moon and Brand New Man, the album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums, giving them their 10th Billboard 200 Top 10 album, the most of any country duo or group in the chart’s history. They were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in the “Modern Era Artist” category in 2019.

Being back on the charts is different these days, Dunn said, but the duo is glad to have whatever they get.

The Reboot tour is produced by Live Nation, which has implemented a policy that says audiences must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or vaccination before entering any show.

Dunn said he thinks that is the best thing Live Nation could do to keep everyone safe.

Rehearsing looked slightly different in the pandemic. Dunn said they called rehearsals “band camp” and took all possible precautions, including closed rehearsals with just the crew and limited access to one another.

“Other than that . . . it’s like work out, get in shape,” he said. “You know, just go dive into the fire. But nothing different. That’s what we’ve done for over 20 years.”

If you go

Brooks and Dunn. Tickets start at $29.75. 7 p.m. Oct. 8. MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. 4802 U.S. Highway 301 N, Tampa. livenation.com.