Colorado girl Clare Dunn comes home with show at 1stBank Center

Clare Dunn, who grew up in the southeastern Colorado town of Two Buttes, plays the 1stBank Center on Nov. 19 (Carlos Ruiz / Courtesy photo)
Clare Dunn, who grew up in the southeastern Colorado town of Two Buttes, plays the 1stBank Center on Nov. 19. (Carlos Ruiz / Courtesy photo)

By Doug Pike

Clare Dunn has been on the road for months.

Last week, the country singer played a show in Muncie, Ind. Over the weekend, she was on stage in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Thursday, Dunn finally will make a pit stop in her home state when she opens for Chris Young at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield.

Dunn grew up on a ranch in Two Buttes — a speck on the southeastern Colorado map about an hour south of Lamar — and currently resides in Nashville, Tenn. Her busy tour schedule rarely routes her back through Colorado, but she says there’s still no place like home.

“I’m so excited,” Dunn said recently by phone from Indiana. “I’ve gotten to come out (to Colorado) and do a couple private radio functions, but I’m really excited to be able to come out and play a full show out there. Home is always home for me. I pay rent in Nashville, though I’m never there. I will only be there three days the entire month of November.”

As it turns out, success can be demanding.

After struggling for seven years in Nashville, Dunn’s career experienced a breakthrough last year when she was signed by Universal Music Group Nashville. She was recently named on “Artists to Watch” lists by USA Today, Billboard magazine and Taste of Country. MusicRow Magazine named her to its “2015’s Next Big Things” after she was the highest charting independent female artist on the MusicRow Country Breakout chart in the past decade.

Dunn, who had previously played up to 150 shows each year, touring out of a Ford F150 pickup and a trailer, said it has been a long but rewarding road.

“It’s been very surreal, but very slow, too. I’ve worked very hard for the past seven years, and I’ve been trying to soak in each rung of the ladder as I’ve climbed up,” she said.

After signing her record deal, Dunn was immediately thrust into the limelight.

Her breakout single, “Move On,” quickly hit the airwaves.

In her first tour with UMG, she opened for legendary rocker Bob Seger. Since then, she has shared the stage with some of the biggest names in country music, including Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Keith Urban.

This fall, she joined Miranda Lambert on her “Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars” tour.

Analysis by suggests Dunn might soon give Lambert a run for her money.

“…Clare Dunn may be the next female to reach the pinnacle of county music, to meet up with the likes of Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert,” the review states.

But Dunn isn’t getting ahead of herself. She appreciates where she’s at.

“My whole life, this is all I’ve ever wanted to do,” said Dunn, who was raised on the sounds of Waylon Jennings and Reba McEntire. “Since I was little I wanted to perform and make music and sing, and do what my heroes did. Growing up on a farm, I drove around on a tractor dreaming about my music.”

She said her music, a country/rock hybrid, carries a heavy Colorado influence.

“The landscape of where I’m from is an influence in an abstract way. It’s big, it’s vast, it’s expansive and it goes on forever,” she said. “I grew up in a drought time, and we were hungry for an escape and something to hold onto. I found it in country music. That’s where I created the sound that I eventually brought to Nashville. It’s a tapestry woven together of all the influences I had growing up.”

Being from Colorado, Dunn finds herself in a rare minority in the country music industry. But she proudly claims her home state.

“It’s an honor to be from Colorado. It’s distinctive,” Dunn said. “There’s a lot of singers from Oklahoma, at least in country, but I don’t know of anyone from Colorado right now who has made it big in country music.”

After the Broomfield show, Dunn will continue her tour with Chris Young before joining Gary Allen for a show to coincide with the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nev., in December.

It could be another month before Dunn returns home to Colorado.

“Hopefully I’ll get to come home for Christmas. That’s as far as I can look ahead this year,” Dunn said. “And I know next year is going to be crazy.”

If you go

What: Chris Young with Eric Paslay and Clare Dunn

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19

Where: 1stBank Center, 11450 Broomfield Lane

Cost: Tickets start at $25


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