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Close-Up: Brooks and Dunn

”Brand New Man” propels the country duo to the top of the charts

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”We’re not the Everly Brothers,” concedes Ronnie Dunn, 39, talking about his vocal harmony with Kix Brooks, 37. ”We’re just two guys with an act that’s working out.” That’s putting it mildly. As Brooks & Dunn, they’ve forged a hot-wired style of down-home dance music that has propelled four singles from their debut album, Brand New Man, to No. 1 on the Billboard country chart. Last month they earned three Country Music Association award nominations and cracked the top 20 on the pop album chart. ”We bring a good energy to the stage,” says the animated Brooks, who got his nickname as an overactive fetus.

The sons of oil and pipeline workers, Louisianan Brooks and Oklahoman Dunn worked individually as singer-songwriters until Arista paired them in 1990. Both married with children, they tell stories as lively as their music: how the girl’s bike Dunn got for his seventh Christmas spurred him to become ”a macho country star”; how one of Brooks’ first songs, about a girlfriend’s mangy dog, cost him that college romance. As for fame, Brooks bubbles, ”It’s great, it’s really happening,” while the more cautious Dunn can only advise him, ”Save your money.”