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Review: Aug. 23, 2004
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Brooks & Dunn with Gary Allan, Josh Turner
Break in routine a welcome change of pace
By Jeffrey Lee Puckett • August 23, 2004

Brooks & Dunn have always covered their bases, touching on every major country music subject matter while simultaneously offering a taste of just about every popular mainstream music style.

Until Saturday night, however, they had neglected miniature donkey racing. The checklist is now full. Kix Brooks, the crazy one, brought along video of a midget-donkey grudge race between him and an official with the Indianapolis State Fair.

Brooks, who apparently still boasts plenty of his native Louisiana wildness, pushed that little ass so hard that his buggy flipped over and sent him skidding into a full-grown mule.

It was good stuff, and with any luck might spark some oneupmanship among his peers. It would be nice to see, let's say, Tim McGraw wrestle a pig.

The video might have been the highlight of the Kentucky State Fair show in Freedom Hall, but not because Brooks & Dunn didn't deliver. It's just that that they've been to Louisville so often that any break from routine was welcome.

For fans, however, the routine is plenty. Brooks and Ronnie Dunn did their usual solid job of mixing a little Marty Robbins, some Jimmy Buffett and a touch of Hank Williams Jr. while singing about family, personal pride, tradition, hometown nostalgia and flames old and new.

It was a good example of why they're the most decorated duo in country music history.

Gary Allan's middle set was the evening's musical highlight. A Southern California native with roots in the Bakersfield sound of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, Allan stands apart from most of his contemporaries in style, attitude and taste.

Not many singers as successful as Allan are willing to go from a straight-up ballad ("Man to Man") to a cover of Todd Snider's "Alright Guy," with its very entertaining, and nearly R-rated, lyrics.

Allan isn't a Nashville outsider in the same way as a David Allen Coe, but he's no pushover either.

Josh Turner opened the bill with a quick set that showed off a classic country baritone in the tradition of Jim Reeves or Randy Travis.

An all-American newcomer, Turner has been riding the success of his hit, "Long Black Train," a gospel-inspired allegory of temptation and redemption. "Long Black Train" is his strongest song, while the rest are either sweet and sentimental ("Jacksonville") or sappy and sentimental ("In My Dreams").

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