We look ahead to Ken Burns' Country Music documentary and Brooks & Dunn's new Country Music Hall of Fame exhibit with a special playlist celebrating a uniquely American art form.
The October 2019 edition of Cowboys & Indians began to take shape many months ago. In one corner of our Dallas headquarters, food and drink editor José R. Ralat was assembling a group of writers and editors with a mission to shine lights on some of the West’s great food destinations. In another corner, other staffers were lining up photographers, models, outfits, and a location for our fall fashion shoot — a project that would challenge us to re-create the cozy confines of a ski lodge in the heat of the Texas summer. And outside the C&I HQ, longtime contributor Chuck Thompson was wrapping up an interview with Ken Burns, the award-winning documentary director, about Burns’ new retrospective series, Country Music.
Looking ahead at an issue filled with Western fashion, food, and music, I couldn’t help but tie them together when asked by folks what we had in store for October. “This issue deals with, well, all the good stuff,” I’d say with a wide-eyed expression for added mystery. I had no idea how good it would get, though, until the October cover came together.
Cut to mid-July in Nashville. Inside the storied Broadway haunt Robert’s Western World, noted entertainment photographer Robby Klein helped the C&I team capture a special meeting of country music luminaries. Front and center were Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, performers behind too many honky-tonk hits to count. As Burns’ exploration of the country genre cues up for its September 15 broadcast debut, Brooks & Dunn’s own look-back exhibit has come to the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum in Music City. In the issue’s cover story, they share some fantastic insights into their career with C&I contributor Alison Bonaguro.
Brooks & Dunn are looking forward as much as they’re looking back. Earlier this year for their Reboot collection, the duo spent time in the studio with Jon Pardi and Kane Brown. On Reboot and on his own fantastic new record, Heartache Medication, California crooner Pardi serves up supremely satisfying twang. Brown’s voice is deeper, but just as steeped in tradition: His rise in popularity and his hit album Experiment prove that the youngest country fans still feel a connection to the genre’s formative styles and sounds.
Brooks, Dunn, Pardi, and Brown are just four musicians operating in country's ever-growing world of styles and influences. To get you in the mood for the upcoming issue they cover, we've created a 100-song "Play Something Country" playlist (above) on Apple Music as a kind of soundtrack to it. You'll find standouts from every era of the genre, including killer tunes discussed in Burns' documentary as well as up-and-coming artists we spotlight in our pages.
Enjoy, and don't forget to pick up the new edition on September 3!
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(Photography by Robby Klein)