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Thursday, October 30 2014 @ 02:10 PM EDT

Brooks & Dunn Are "Building Bridges" with Sheryl Crow & Vince Gill for Next CD

Press ReleasesAs the leading denizens of maintaining the pilot light of hardcore honky tonk music, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn have turned the heat way up for the follow-up to their platinum plus coming-of-age rumination Red Dirt Road. With "Play Something Country" scorching country radio with its blister-inducing intensity, the good-timing duo hit the studio to reprise Larry Willoughby's "Building Bridges" -- with arcing harmonies and melody-emeshing help from Vince Gill and Sheryl Crow.

"I was just crazy for everything Rodney Crowell," says Ronnie Dunn, who cut his juke joint teeth behind chicken wire. "Anything and everything Rodney did, I was all about it… and at first, I thought this was a Rodney Crowell song! Then I came to find out it was by his cousin, but it didn't matter… the song was so good, if we did 4 sets on a Saturday night, I'd find a way to sneak it into 3."
Larry Willoughby originally recorded the song as the title track of his acclaimed Atlantic Records debut. From there, the songwriter who's seen his songs recorded by everyone from hardcore outlaw Waylon Jennings ("Devil's On The Loose") to pop/rock songstress Nicolette Larson ("Building Bridges") has gone on to become one of Nashville's most respected A&R executives, currently holding down the head post at Capitol Nashville.

"Some songs just stand the test of time," says Kix Brooks. "As a writer, I remember when Larry's record came out… the way the insiders were buzzing about it… and when (new B&D producer) Tony Brown suggested it, Ronnie said it was something he was doing in the honky tonks, so it seemed like a pretty cool and organic way to tap into where we come from."

Obviously having vocal support from rock siren Sheryl Crow and angel-voiced high lonesomer Vince Gill adds a whole other kind of nuance to the song of forgiveness, healing and reunions. For their late summer release, it's a perfect fit as Brooks & Dunn are determined to take their signature brand of unrelenting bar-room country to an even higher plane.

"The thing about great songs is they can make a jukebox weep," says Dunn with a laugh. "And that's always been that thing about 'between sets'… you wanna be the record that gets people feeding the jukebox all their quarters. So we got loaded up for bear on this one, and I think we got ourselves a record that's gonna feel pretty good bathed in neon."

With a busy summer of shows at most of the major festivals leading up to their Deuces Wild tour, featuring bravado-barons Big & Rich and those ever crazy Warren Brothers, Brooks & Dunn are sliding it into over-drive, turning up the music and leaning into the curve. As a name that's defined country without compromise for more than a decade, these boys know what they're doing -- and they take no prisoners as they lay those crowds to waste.

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