Country music artist Dierks Bentley is a beer-and-cornhole kind of guy. Sure, his latest effort, “Feel That Fire,” already boasts two No. 1 singles (the title track and “Sideways”), but the Arizona native and Nashville resident is just an easygoing picker and singer who finds pleasure in life’s simple things.
It’s for that reason that amongst all of the Music City egos and Nash Vegas glitz he’s somewhat of an anomaly. He’s created a growing and loyal fan base that loves his often-rocking style, which has elicited attention from outside the country music world.
This summer, the multi-platinum artist Bentley, known for radio hits "What Was I Thinkin'," "Come a Little Closer," "Settle for a Slowdown" and more, is hitting the road as opener for the red-hot Brad Paisley on a summer tour that includes a show tonight at Blossom Music Center. The News-Herald talked with Bentley about the tour, his unique style and why he, well, um, bribes fans with beer to get them into their seats early to see his show.
Let's start by discussing your rocking country music style, which has seemingly accomplished the impossible by attracting fans across different genres.
Dierks Bentley: We have a lot of friends in the Texas and Oklahoma country scene and the bluegrass country scene. And for the past couple of years I've had a chance to play both Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza (music festivals). So I've been able to ease in and out of different places, which to me is wonderful not to be pigeonholed in one spot. The core of it all is the love of country music. It's a cool thing to me to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry but also to get to play Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. That's a fun tightrope to be able to walk.
Regarding your current tour, how did the pairing with Paisley come about?
Dierks Bentley: This year Brad called me up and asked if I'd be interested in doing a tour. I've always kind of wanted to go out on the road with him anyway. So looking at the way the economy is going, I just thought it would be a great way to be a part of a great ticket so country fans really get a lot of bang for the buck. Brad's a great songwriter, funny and a great musician. And his show has a lot of production. So it's an amazing show to watch and hear. My band is a small band, only five of us total and we run around stage a lot. It's probably a little bit more rock sensibility when it comes to the energy of our show, but I think it matches pretty well. I figure my job is to go out there every night and be the bartender that jumps up on the bar and makes a toast and gets the place rowdy and rocking for when he comes out ready to go.
So essentially you're playing the role of Tom Cruise in "Cocktail?"
Dierks Bentley: Hey man, "Alabama slammer, the velvet hammer." That's one of my favorite movies of all-time, by the way. "I make drinks so sweet and snappy" ... anyways. It's a great movie. So yeah, that's kind of my job to get out there, break something, get a fight started and get this party started. Plus, we do as much as we can before the show, whether that's trying to get a workout in to sweat out the beer from the night before or taking the Jeep out and hanging out with people tailgating a little bit to pick up on their vibe and energy so we can bring that backstage with us.
Wait, you have your own Jeep on tour?
Dierks Bentley: Yeah we have a trailer behind the bus. I have a 1977 Jeep CJ-7 that I carry with us. That's our way of getting out there and hanging with the fans who are tailgating. It's kind of freaking them out and surprising them for a little bit, but it's fun. Everyone thinks you want to be backstage but it's most fun out there where people are tailgating and playing cornhole. It's fun to get out there and hang out for a little bit and give out some free beer and head back in."
Wait, did you say free beer?
Dierks Bentley: I have a deal with Bud Light. I have more beer than I know what to do with. So I either have to leave it behind at the venue or just give it away to some deserving fans. So it's like, "Hey man, here's some beer come out and see us."
So you're basically bribing fans to get into the venue early enough to catch your set?
Dierks Bentley: (Laughs) I guess in a way it is kind of a bribe. Yeah, you caught me.