Ronnie Dunn Starts A Record Label. And Maybe, A Revolution.

ronnie-dunnRonnie Dunn, one half of the now dissolved country music super duo Brooks & Dunn, has been up to some very interesting things over the past year. After parting ways with his record label Sony on June 8th, 2012, he’s been making bold moves in the music business, accompanied by inspired, breathy statements on his Facebook page that many times decry the current structure of the country music business, especially radio and distribution.

Yesterday (7-2-13), Dunn took to Facebook to announce he has formed a record label, “Little Will-E Records,” saying:

I hit some hurdles with the first RD solo cd. I asked to leave Sony in the middle of the project, for various reasons. I have recorded a second solo project (20) songs….it is due for release in November. In the mean time siriusxm radio’s The Highway is testing the first single contender…KISS YOU THERE. It is testing through the roof and selling on iTunes at an average of 5,000 per week and climbing !!!!

The next step is to move into mainstream radio. That is a very complicated and COSTLY endeavor. I know that some of you are traditional country music lovers. I am to. I realize that some of you are progressive country music fans. I am too. Mainstream radio is driven by “30 year old and younger artists”….no problem. I get it but there is room for “FREAKS LIKE ME” I have consulted with several of the most powerful and influential movers and shakers in the business and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM has agreed to support THE CAUSE. Many have gone out of their way to help facilitate the cause.

***MOST IMPORTANTLY, remember…. that what you hear on mainstream radio does NOT dictate the full flavor of a multi song cd !!!!
Songs are chosen for mainstream radio in the effort to meet specific criteria……IF RADIO DOESN’T PLAY YA, YA DON’T GET HEARD. Even the Rolling Stones and Willie complied. Radio is not a bad place !!!! I NEVER RECORD SONGS THAT I DON’T LIKE.

We know from the siriusxm / THE HIGHWAY feedback, that KISS YOU THERE is a HIT !!! Now, comes the competitive BIG BIZ SHUFFLE.

I need to thank, John Esposito. I want to thank John Marks.

I’ve started a record label LITTLE WILL-E Records. We are fully staffed with very unique…. “out of the box” group of innovative thinkers. I think you are going to like what you see and hear. We are going to make music available to you in different and unique ways. Our goal is to create a MUSIC CULTURE, guided by a lifestyle philosophy. There are no rules.

This is going to be a journey. YOU ARE ALL CRITICAL AND KEY PLAYERS.

WE ARE NOT SO MUCH ABOUT THE WHAT AS WE ARE ABOUT THE WHY !!!!

Together WE can !!

PEACE LOVE AND COUNTRY MUSIC,

RD

Believe it or not, this type of rhetoric is common from Ronnie these days. Back in November of 2012, Dunn unleashed an impassioned speech about how older music consumers needed to learn to download music. And almost weekly, similar long, inspired dispatches are released through Ronnie’s Facebook.

Then the intriguing news came out that Ronnie was writing with Texas music legend Ray Wylie Hubbard, including a song called “Bad on Fords and Chevrolets” that incidentally has since been picked up by Sammy Hagar who recently played the song live and will be releasing it on an upcoming album.

Ronnie Dunn also pulled a Jack White-style stunt during CMA Fest in Nashville a few weeks ago. Right as the CMT Awards were letting out of Bridgestone Arena, Ronnie was on the rooftop of a nearby restaurant, performing two new songs, “Kiss You There” and “Country This.” The performance was projected on the walls of three downtown establishments: Rippy’s, Honky Tonk Central, and the famed Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, while a 200-person flash mob performed choreographed moves on 5th Avenue to the debut “Kiss You There” single. Ronnie finished up the set by shooting T-shirts out into the crowd.

The rhetoric, the gonzo style release of his songs, and the spirit that Ronnie Dunn has taken to this new lease on his music life has been enough to inspire Ronnie’s fans and new recruits on an endeavor to save country music….except for one thing.

Those two new Ronnie Dunn songs? “Kiss You There” and “Country This”? They might be ideal specimens of how to use the formula approach to songwriting in the country music format. Each one really deserves its own in-depth diagramming, but “Country This,” which starts off almost seeming to make fun of laundry list country songs, slowly reveals itself to be fully died in that formulaic wool, while “Kiss You There” takes it a step further, featuring Ronnie pseudo-rapping over an electronic beat. After reading all of Ronnie’s impassioned communiqués about the state of country music, it is quite shocking to hear these songs, though they’re certainly catchy tunes.

Does this make Ronnie a turncoat? Is he trying to play both sides? I honestly have absolutely no idea what is going on here, and that’s probably the way Ronnie wants it. Maybe Ronnie is sitting on some excellent, more traditional or better-written material, and these singles are simply created for radio appeal. He seems to allude to that in his statement when he says, “Mainstream radio does not dictate the full flavor of a multi-song CD.” Maybe he is trying to prove a point. Maybe the songs are Trojan horses of some sort. He seems to allude to that in his statement as well, but he also says, “I never record songs that I don’t like.” So maybe these songs are sincere expressions, or maybe they are pleas from an aging superstar trying to stay relevant.

Either way, I’m sure Ronnie will clue us all in soon enough, and probably in some unique way.