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Garth Brooks to play benefit in FW

Posted on: 02/11/2005

Garth Brooks to play benefit in FW

Brief return to help hospital buy life-saving machine

09:51 PM CST on Thursday, February 10, 2005

By MARIO TARRADELL / The Dallas Morning News

Garth Brooks is coming out of retirement, for just one night.

The country superstar will play Sunday at Bass Performance Hall during his first performance in Dallas-Fort Worth since announcing his retirement more than four years ago. The gig's a rare one for the Oklahoma-born and -based artist, who these days only sings about twice a year for members of his Teammates for Kids foundation.

What brings him back to the public stage? A favor for friend and fellow country-singer-songwriter Dan Roberts, who's aiming to raise $4.5 million to purchase an intraoperative MRI machine for Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth. That very machine saved the life of Mr. Roberts' daughter, Austin, who had a threatening brain tumor removed in 2002 at the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center.

"This is all about Dan Roberts and the daughter that he thought he would lose," said the 43-year-old Mr. Brooks by phone Thursday afternoon from his home north of Tulsa. "The machine is like a brain-mapping machine. While the surgery is going on, this machine is showing you where to cut. I held this child when she was 100 percent healthy before the tumors started. To see this child go through what she has gone through and come back as well as she is now, how can you say no to this?"

At $1,000 a seat, Sunday's benefit is a hair from sold-out. Only eight tickets remain, confirmed event producer Verna Riddles. Mr. Brooks, originally billed as "a mystery guest," will participate in a songwriters-circle song swap with Mr. Roberts, Steve Wariner and Stephanie Davis during the first half of the show and then sing for an hour with his band after intermission.

The gig, Mr. Brooks assured, won't coax him out of retirement. In fact, he said folks won't hear from him for at least another decade. He has promised to stay retired until his youngest daughter, Allie, turns 18. She is now 8. He has two other daughters, Taylor, 12, and August, 10.

"We haven't made a record and won't make a record," he said. "What the future holds is limitless. But at least for the next 10 years, I'm out."

Yet his options are open. Mr. Brooks remains signed to Capitol Records, in a contract he said is for "years, not albums." He won't disclose how many years the agreement covers.

"I signed my life away to them. I love being on the same label with Haggard and the Beatles."

In his hiatus from the spotlight of records – his last album was 2001's Scarecrow – and touring, he's dabbled in screenplay writing but admits it's nothing even close to ready for production. He hasn't penned a note of music.

"I've been baling hay and taking the kids to school and taking them to soccer practice," he said. "That's it. This is better than any show. I'm finding my purpose; I'm right where I need to be."

He's removed from the scene, too. Mr. Brooks said the kids dictate much of what he listens to now. So he's familiar with such pop stars du jour as Avril Lavigne, Hilary Duff and Evanescence. He's also introduced his girls to such country veterans as Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the late Keith Whitley.

"There is not one record in this house that I don't like. That was very different in my house growing up because my folks didn't care for Kiss or Queen at all. But so far, I'm really happy with what my kids are bringing home."


The Austin Roberts Refuse to Lose Benefit with Garth Brooks, Steve Wariner, Stephanie Davis and Dan Roberts will be at 8 p.m. Sunday at Bass Performance Hall, 555 Commerce St., Fort Worth. For tickets, $1,000, call 682-885-4105.

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