Kix Brooks isn’t just a big name in country music, he’s a big fan of it.
So, the country music lovers expected flock to downtown Oklahoma City this weekend for the inaugural OKCFest won’t just see the former Brooks & Dunn singer/songwriter “Play Something Country,” they will see him listening to something country, too.
“I’m definitely that guy sitting on the side of the stage,” Brooks said in a recent phone interview. “I just like hearing good music. It’s really fun to see new acts out there catching their wave and riding it.”
About 60,000 fans are expected to hear an impressive lineup of national and regional country acts Friday and Saturday on the OKCFest main stage in the old Ford dealership parking lot.
Plus, a diverse slate of Oklahoma talents playing on an array of free stages in the Myriad Botanical Gardens will take OKCFest beyond country and into rock, folk, bluegrass, gospel, jazz and rock en Espanol.
“People are looking to come to downtown Oklahoma City regardless of what’s going on,” Mayor Mick Cornett told The Oklahoman when OKCFest was announced back in spring. “You put this event in downtown Oklahoma City, and it really complements what our city has to offer.”
Getting Kix with national stars
Along with Brooks, current superstars Dierks Bentley and Lady Antebellum, outlaw legend Merle Haggard and “American Idol” Scotty McCreery will help Oklahoma City go country during the first-time festival.
The high-profile lineup is credited to the collaborative effort of prominent Oklahoma City business and civic leader Fred Hall and Victor Sansone, the respected past chairman of the Country Music Association and former ABC radio executive, who is serving as an entertainment and production consultant to OKCFest. Sansone set up Brooks as host of the “American Country Countdown” back in 2006 and was instrumental in getting the busy star on the OKCFest bill.
“When he (Sansone) said that he was kind of doing this and he’d like me to be a part of it, I jumped right on it, because everything that he’s ever put together has just been really well-run and well-received and a great experience for the fans,” said Brooks, who also hosts the radio show “Kickin’ It With Kix.”
“So, I very much wanted to be a part of this first year. I’m really looking forward to it. I know it’s gonna be great.”
Since he and former Tulsan Ronnie Dunn parted ways in 2010 — after a 22-year run in which they became the top-selling duo in music history — Brooks, 59, has been branching out in several directions, including acting in the Western film “Ambush at Dark Canyon” and producing the soundtrack.
Festivalgoers can expect Saturday’s set to include old Brooks & Dunn favorites, along with cuts from Brooks’ 2012 solo album “New to This Town” and a few fun covers. They also can expect to hear him talking about OKCFest on upcoming episodes of his radio shows.
“I love staying busy, I love what we do, I still really enjoy playing music, and I have a great band. A lot of Brooks & Dunn alumni in my band, so it’s kind of fun for us to, oh, hop out there and still bang it out on the stage together. You know, it’s just a big smile at this point in our lives.”
Randy Rogers represents Texas
Three of the hardest-touring and best-known bands on the Texas country scene — Randy Rogers Band, Casey Donahew Band and Josh Abbott Band — will be featured alongside the mainstream country acts on the OKCFest main stage. Since he and his bandmates have played 200-plus shows a year for more than a decade, singer/songwriter Randy Rogers said OKCFest won’t be the group’s first time to play a first-time festival.