Kix Brooks is enjoying the time of his life
July 25, 2014
Leon Eric Brooks, known to his fans as Kix Brooks, is looking forward to coming to Park City for the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concert at Deer Valley on July 31.
The Grammy Award-winning country singer said the audience needs to be ready to have a good time.
"There is a lot of songs over the years that I’m fortunate to have some success with and people want to hear those, and that kind of goes with the territory," Brooks said during a telephone call to The Park Record from his home in Nashville, Tenn. "I have a lot of new music and I have a great band who love to play, and at this point in our career, we’re liable to pull out anything and jam to it."
Some of the band members have worked with Brooks when he was in the duo Brooks & Dunn with singing partner Ronnie Dunn.
"Yes, there are some Brooks & Dunn alumni, but there are also a couple of ringers thrown in," Brooks said, laughing. "It’s going to be really fun."
Brooks spent 20 years touring with Dunn and in 2009, after releasing 11 studio albums, including a holiday release, five greatest hits packages, and more than 50 charting singles, the duo announced it was taking a break.
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Since, then, Brooks, who found he had some time on his hands, indulged in some other creative endeavors.
"One of the first things I did was acting in movies," Brooks said. "I enjoyed acting and studied it in college while I was majoring in music."
In order to get a diploma, Brooks had to fulfill ensemble credits, which meant he had to be in the marching band, the orchestra or in the school choir or another collaborative arts project.
"I was already playing music in bars four nights a week, and I felt I owed it to my father that I needed to bring home the sheepskin after he paid for me to drink beer for four years," Brooks said, laughing. "So, I started looking around to see what I could do and the speech department had the same requirements, so I got involved in that.
"I actually wrote a three-act play and my friends and I would spend every nickel we had making 8mm films about whatever we could think about," he said.
So, getting back to his acting roots, Brooks landed a role as Marshall Duke Donovan in Dustin Rikert’s 2012 western "Ambush at Dark Canyon."
"I co-star with Ernie Hudson and its kind of a classic ‘Unforgiven’ sort of film," Brooks said. "I also wrote and performed the soundtrack and score for that."
The music that Brooks did for the film was a way of getting back to his early songwriting roots.
"I just wrote a bunch of fun stuff that I felt like writing with no intention in mind," he said. "It was like I was in a relaxed, after-the-storm setting and that was good for me."
Brooks began writing songs when he was in college.
"I would listen to Waylon (Jennings), Willie (Nelson), Jerry Jeff Walker, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and all those guys," he said. "I was in Shreveport, Louisiana, which is really East Texas and all those songwriters were so great. They are all great wordsmiths.
"I mean, even if I couldn’t write a song as good as them, I was inspired," Brooks said. "Sometimes I think fans forget that we’re fans, too. I mean football fans just want to get out and throw the ball, you know. Golfers watch people who are really good and they want to get out and play. Songwriting is the same thing. I just wanted to make stuff up. I wanted to create stories like those guys did."
When Brooks moved to Nashville 30 years ago, he wrote songs for other singers for 10 years. One standout was "Modern Day Romance," which was recorded by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1985.
"It still is great and gratifying for me to think that someone would think enough of your music that they want to record it and risk their career on something you created," Brooks said.
When it came to making his first post-duo solo album, "New to This Town," Brooks decided to add some Cajun zydeco spice into the mix.
"I think writing those songs and getting away from what Ronnie and I did with Brooks & Dunn for so many years was great," he said.
Last year, Brooks was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Past inductees include Louis Armstrong, Clifton Chenier, Bill Conti, Sonny Landreth and Jerry Lee Lewis.
"That was a great honor, especially when you look at the list of people who are in there," he said. "It means a lot, especially when you come from Louisiana."
One of Brooks’ fondest memories about his time in the Bayou State was playing the night clubs.
"Before I moved to Nashville, my last run was playing 72 nights in a row in New Orleans," he said. "I wanted to prove to myself that I could cut it in those clubs down there. I had to get that out of my system and prove that I was worthy before I moved somewhere else."
These days, Brooks is content with owning a vineyard, a film-production company and hosting two radio shows — "American Country Countdown" and "Kickin’ It wit Kix."
"I’m just having fun as fast as I can," he said with another laugh. "I don’t miss a minute and I’m exhausted by the end of the day. I’m in the middle of all my passions and I feel so blessed."
The Park City Institute will present Kix Brooks at part of the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Summer Concerts at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater on Thursday, July 31, at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $45 to $85 and are available by visiting bigstarsbrightnightsconcerts.org.
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