OFFSTAGE: Ronnie Dunn on Four-Wheeling and Bulldozing

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Ronnie Dunn went solo this year after a couple of decades of being one-half of Brooks & Dunn. But solo artist or not, it sounds like he’s never alone. He is a family man and spends all kinds of time with his family out at the Forge, his home-away-from-home, two-story barn outside of Nashville that he apparently built with painstaking detail and a lot of rough-cut poplar. His daughter Whitney recently sat down with her dad to talk about how he found the place and what’s happened since. “When I finally did come out, I saw the bluff and all the hills and it just started singing to me. It’s that simple,” he says in a feature story on the website of Imogene + Willie , a Nashville clothing store. “I really responded to the vibe more than anything else.” Dunn also tells his daughter he used a 16-stall horse stable for the inspiration and footprint of the house and that he has found ways to lure the family out there. “The first day or two after we come out here together, there’s tension in the air. It’s fun to watch the process — everyone thinking, ’What do I do?’ After a little while, it becomes, ’Oh, yeah: I can four-wheel, I can go up into the hills, I can fish in the pond, I can go to the river,” he says. But when Dunn is there, he likes to bulldoze. “It’s good therapy. We used to laugh at Dale Earnhardt years ago when he bought 350 acres and a ’dozer with it. He just lived on the dozer when he wasn’t racing cars. It feels good to push the earth around, to move trees,” said Dunn.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.