What I Learned At A Brooks & Dunn Concert: There’s Something About Mary

I like the music of Brooks & Dunn.  I’ve listened to their hits since the mid 90’s when I lived in Las Vegas.  That’s almost as long as they’ve been a country duo.  Since then, I moved to Tulsa, the hometown of Ronnie Dunn.  So when B&D announced they were splitting up, and their “Last Rodeo” tour was tying their horse up for the night in Tulsa, I decided to join 15 thousand cowboys Friday night in saying their goodbyes.  Yes, you could say I’m a Brooks & Dunn fan.  But nothing like the woman who was sitting 5 seats down from me in Section F5 Row C Seat 8.

Mary Carroll doesn’t look like she would be a country music fan.  But come to think of it, not all country music fans look like they’ve just come in from the ranch, or farm, or barbeque, or tattoo parlor (If Mary had a tatt, it would have surprised me).  Don’t get me wrong, there were enough cowboy hats and boots and beer and chew in that place that you’d never forget where you are… at a country music concert in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Mary’s a short, sweet looking, middle-aged woman, who actually stood out from the crowd because she’s a short, sweet-looking, middle-aged woman.  She came to my attention when I overheard someone say this wasn’t her first B&D concert.  So I decided to find out more.

If you’ve ever been to a concert in a big arena… any type of concert… you know that striking up a conversation isn’t easy.  The place is LOUD!   Here’s what I learned about Mary Carroll and her love for Brooks & Dunn:

  • Me:  I hear you’ve been to a few of these concerts.  How many?
  • Mary: What?
  • Me:  (yelling even louder) I said how many times have you been to a Brooks & Dunn concert?
  • Mary: (this is what I thought she said) Oh, I’ve seen them 9 times.
  • Me: 9 times?  Wow, that’s great!
  • Mary: (again this is what I thought she said) No, 19 times.
  • Me.:  19?  That’s unbelievable!  You must really like them.
  • Mary: (by this time I can see she’s getting frustrated with me) No. 90 times. Nine zero.

I must have had that dumbfounded look on my face, because by the look on her face, I could tell she had finally gotten through to me.

  • Me: Did you say 90?
  • Mary:  (she nods, with a big smile, then yells back) I saw them in Wichita last night, and I’ll be in Dallas tomorrow night.
  • Me:  When was your first concert?
  • Mary:   1998.
  • Me:  Why have you gone to 90 concerts?

Mary’s answer is swallowed up by the music.  But it doesn’t take a rodeo clown to figure it out.  It was my second dumbest question/comment of the night.  There’s a slight lull in the music so I yell out another question.  It’s a question I shouldn’t have asked but did anyway.

  • Me:  Are you single? (I feared the answer would be “My husband died years ago, and this is how I cope with my loneliness.”  I was wrong.)
  • Mary: No, I’m married.  My husband is back in Sacramento.
  • Me: Does he ever come with you?
  • Mary: No. He hates country music.  He had a ticket to a concert once, but at the last moment decided not to go.
  • Me:  Who’s your favorite?  Brooks or Dunn?
  • Mary:  (again smiling) I can’t tell you that.
  • Me:  But you do have a favorite ( a statement, not a question).

Mary nods yes.  I decided it was best not to push it.  I had more questions, but by then, I could tell she was losing patience with me.  Besides, it was really loud.  I did find out she’s met B&D backstage several times, and they know that short, sweet looking, middle-aged woman is usually out there somewhere in the sea of cowboy hats and tall beers held high in salute.  And she plans to see Brooks and Dunn four more times, including their final concert in Nashville.

As I’m finishing up, I make the dumbest comment I’ve ever made in my life.  And I knew it the moment it flew out of my city slicker lips.

  • Me: Hope you enjoy the concert.
  • Mary: (A huge grin on her face)

After 90 Brooks and Dunn concerts, is there any doubt Mary Carroll will?

p.s.  Here’s a clip from the Brooks & Dunn concert.  By the way, that’s Mary at the end.  Enjoy.

If you have trouble viewing the above video, here’s the Youtube clip:

46 Comments on “What I Learned At A Brooks & Dunn Concert: There’s Something About Mary

  1. Love the idea that someone can travel to every single concert that they so desire. It truely is a free world when someone can do that.

    And by the way, chosing between Brooks or Dunn is just wrong.

  2. Mary was one of 3 very dedicated Brooks & Dunn Fan Club members that were traveling together for the 3 concerts mentioned in your article. She told us about meeting you and that she was going to be featured in a blog…that is too cool, and yes…the traveling trio will be going to Nashville in August with an additional 3 in our party. I must mention that there will be many many more fan club members that will be decending upon Nashville for the final curtain call of Brooks & Dunn’s “Last Rodeo”.
    We all plan to ride this one till the horn blows on August 10th. Many life long friendships have been made through this wonderful fan club and for that I will be forever grateful.

    • Jo Anne,
      It’s good to hear that the B&D fan club has resulted in so many friendships. I’ve been a “fan” of theirs for years, but nothing like you and Mary. Enjoy!

  3. Hey, Mark, thanks for the swell write-up. Be prepared to be surprised — i do have a tatt of Brooks & Dunn’s steerhead logo, Bubba, in all his red-white-and-blue “Steers & Stripes” glory. Much like Ronnie’s “Cowboy” tatt, i look upon the inking as an earned “red badge of courage”.

    • Mary,
      It was definitely a pleasure meeting you. When I go to concerts I love to look around and watch people enjoy the music. After 90 Brooks & Dunn concerts, you’d think a person would just sit back and “go through the motions” to add to their concert totals. But you were on your feet, singing along, and constantly taking pictures… just like someone who’s watching for the first time. That’s a true fan. And by a previous comment from TX_Lady, there are many, many more just like you. And it never crossed my mind to ask if you have a B&D tattoo. I love it that I’m always surprised by people. If you get a moment, check back in here with a comment about the remaining concerts, especially the final one in Nashville.

  4. Leslie aka Undunn4dunn (B&D Fan Club)

    Hey Mark, wow loved the read and the video. You would be amazed at how many of us B&D Junkies there are out there. I know both Jo Anne & Mary all thanks to B&D, and the many concerts and road trips I have taken to see them. Many of us have made friendships that will last long after the finale curtain falls in Nashville in August, and yes I to will be there (travelling from Canada) I have to say that the excitement of seeing them never fades, they always put on a first class high performance show, that just leaves you wanting more. I’m looking forward to heading to Florida to see 3 shows, then to up state N.Y., and finally to Nashville in August. When the finalle curtain falls it will be 46 B&D shows, and a huge Thank You for 20 years of great music, concerts, and new found friends.

    • Thanks Leslie. I remember when I first started listening to Brooks & Dunn. I worked in Vegas in the mid 90’s and driving home from work I’d tune into a country radio station and B&D were usually on. While Mary wouldn’t tell me who her favorite is, I’m guessing by your alias who yours is. I appreciate your nice comments and try not to get too down following that last concert in Nashville.

  5. Hi Mark, I enjoyed reading your blog. The video was great, too. I’m another one that’s been to many B&D concerts. It will be 40 after Nashville this year. A small number compared to Mary! I know Mary, Leslie and Jo Anne. I’ve seen a lot of other artists in concert and nobody draws you in the way Brooks & Dunn do. They’re truly amazing! Thanks to those two cowboys I’ve made many friends that will be with me for the rest of my life. There will be many tears shed the night of Aug 10th, 2010 when B&D leave the stage for the last time.

    • I think I’ve stumbled upon a great way to make friends: join a fan club and travel the country. Thanks for your comments Tammy. Maybe B&D won’t really break up.

  6. Hi Mark what a wonderful tribute to a special lady, Mary is just the sweetest, Caught up with her in Albuquerque at the Brooks & Dunn concert there, Not our first encounter, We will meet up in June in Florida to attend two Brooks & Dunn concerts there,(I’ll go onto a third with another friend) I’m from Ohio, so will also attend some Brooks & Dunn concerts up my way,, By Nashville I’ll have 95 B&D concerts under my belt, We love Brooks & Dunn and I have never tired of seeing them,,
    I also have to add that because of the Brooks & Dunn fan club I have met some very special people.. and they are now my closest friends,

    • Connie, looks like you and Mary are pretty much tied for the number of B&D concerts. Do you know of any others who’ve attended even more? Thanks for reading my blog about Mary.

  7. Hey Mark,
    Awesome blog and video! I also know everyone of the above commenting ladies…with the exception of Mary-don’t think her and I have met face to face, but am sure we will in Nashville on August 10th. Yes I will be there and I leave Wednesday evening 6/2 for a show in Charleston WV on the 3rd and I am in Delware. You see we are a bunch off traveling fools when it comes to us getting our B&D fixes…lol! Ronnie Dunn has said many times that we all need therapy! When the final stop on the Last Rodeo comes to a close it will be my 32nd B&D concert! My very first show was in 1991 and they weren’t even the headliners, but I was hooked!
    Sharon a Kix Brooks Junkie…play something country!

    • Looks like if you need therapy, attending a B&D concert is the best kind. What a great way to meet people and make new friends. Have fun in Charleston and beyond.

  8. Mark I am sure there is someone out there who as attended more then Mary and I.And it’s been fun going all over the country seeing Brooks & Dunn and taking in local culture when we can
    It’s always fun running into fellow fan club members, Not sure what I’ll do with my vacation time in 2011

  9. Mike, Did you a video of Ronnie singing Tulsa Town? I would so love to hear and watch it again and agin and again! I tagged along with Mary and JoAnne to Wichita, Tulsa and Dallas. I met JoAnne at a B&D concert in
    Dallas in 2002. Been great friends every since. Met Mary in 2001 in Phoenix. Connie was kind enough to pick me up at the airport and share her friendship in Louisville. The fan club has been a great source of great friends. I am going to miss all our get togethers in Vegas.

    • Sorry. I didn’t get Tulsa Town. My tape ran out. There were so many good songs, and I only had 10 minutes of video.

  10. Mark:

    Will you be going to Nashville in August for the final concert of B&D?

    • I won’t be able to make it to their Nashville concert. Maybe you and many of the others in your B&D fan club can let me know what their final concert is like.

  11. Mark we would all be more than willing to share our takes on the Last–Last rodeo show!

  12. Mark, what a great video and blog! Tammy would be my B&D traveling partner, from our home state of NC to SC, NJ, Ms, and several times to Vegas! Oh such fun! I too know all the friends mentioned above and value all of their friendships more than words can express. You have truly stumbled across a GREAT way to meet new friends and travel the country! It has always been wonderful to get to meet Kix & Ronnie at the M&G’s but that was the icing on the cake, the real treat was when we all got together after the shows. There is another lady that is in our beloved group that has attended 100 shows for sure, possibly more. Although by my name you know I am a Ronnie Dunn Junkie, I adore Kix, his rendition of “Last Rodeo” is on constant play in my head these days. Such a beautiful song and fitting for the title of their last tour. Thank you Mark for your work in getting the video and blog out, good job!

    • Thanks Linda. Your group is a great example of how music can bring people together.

  13. Brooks & Dunn’s Last Rodeo Concert — Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, 9/2/10

    In many ways, this homecoming concert was no different than other Last Rodeo tour stops. Kix played videographer, shot t-shirts into the balcony, selected a young gal for his “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” dance partner, and sailed his hat into the audience . Ronnie delivered his power ballads, led his “Neon Moon” breath-holding sing-a-long, adjusted the tale of his getting inked in LA, and perfected his delivery of why the duo was splitting (Kix got to wear the cowboy hat). The crowd ate it up. Kix said it best: “This isn’t a funeral. We’re here to party.”

    As the orange Last Rodeo curtain rose, I wondered if I’d be able to remember what songs were sung. “Play Something Country”, “Can’t Take the Honky Tonk Out of The Girl”, “Mama Don’t Get Dressed Up For Nothing”, and “Put a Girl In It” followed the set list I’d jotted down in Little Rock. When “I’ll Never Forgive My Heart”, with its backdrop of autumn colors splashed with rain, returned to the line up I decided I’d best just enjoy the music and forget about preserving history. At least I had sense enough to shoot several short videos on the sly.

    Then there were the “precious” moments: 1) Reba on the catwalk for “Cowgirls Don’t Cry”…Ronnie laying his head on her shoulder. 2) Ronnie rubbing his COWBOY tattoo on Kix’s bicep at the end of “How Long Gone” — see, it’s real, it doesn’t come off. 3) Haley Dunn and six of her pals joining her Dad on the catwalk to perform a dance to “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”. 4) the last high-five as their final song, “Brand New Man” ended…confetti rained down so heavily that Kix, wailing his guitar at the end of the catwalk, could barely be seen. Then Ronnie strolled down to join him. The lights lowered, came back up, and, B&D, both grinning big, slapped palms for one last time…

    So much as been reflected in their body language since the tour began in April. First, the hesitant shock of the beginning of the end. Then, as the months passed and I followed the Last Rodeo down the concert road, I saw Ronnie evolve into a man sure of himself. The sad eyes, the tiredness, turned into a strong physical force that said, “Yes, I know what I’m doing.” The smiles, the easy laughter, the final high-five that he and Kix exchanged in Nashville were delivered with honest appreciation and obvious respect.

    For us, the fans, the grieving and bewilderment of being the ones left behind by their separation — we cling to our memories. Time to heal is certainly needed.

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  21. I can relate to Mary . I have been to 95 Brooks & Dunn concerts from 99 thru 2010 . B&D have gave me such joy over the years . I also in my travels all over the country made many dear friends . Who I still have stayed in touch with. Many of us were in Nashville for that last show.. I miss those fun times and miss Brooks&Dunn music…. they will never be matched..

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