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").