Hello, Congress! I am here to share my tale from the Blind Horse Saloon in Greenville, SC. :)
We got to the Blind Horse right at 6:30, which was when my Meet & Greet email told me to be there. I was fairly stressed, but it turned out that it was for nothing, so I got over it. I found Angie (choppergirl - Rep/SC) and Keesh (keesh_a_leash - Rep/NC) and we just sort of hung out and tried to figure out what was going on. There were 7 of us who'd purchased the "VIP Package" which allowed us to cut the line when the doors were opened. Funnily enough, 4 of us 7 also had Meet & Greet, which was nice. They separated the VIP ticket-holders, so we just hung out and talked. At one point, a random sing-along to Sideways broke out, complete with dancing. A few minutes after 7, they opened the doors, and we went in, got our IDs checked, our M&G passes (a pic of Jake!), and hurried to front-center stage. We'd determined outside that Keesh and Mr. Carrie would hold our spots while we went to our M&G at 8, so until then we just chilled and took lots of pics. I met Sandra (dierksdds), Laurie (hunterl5), Tammi (tammis - Rep/SC), and Kim (scmonkeyshinejovigirl), and by the time we went to line up for our M&G, we were chatting away like we'd known each other forever (and Tammi and Laurie really have, haha).
At 8 we went over to the designated place and Brittany separated us from the radio winners. We had a small group, and we were by a cooler that was filled with Bud Light. Sandra asked Brittany if we could bring Dierks a beer, but alas, it was not meant to be. Finally, it was time to head outside to see the Dude! Sandra went first and had Dierks sign the UOTR Tour shirt she'd gotten from the dierksfans.com store. Dierks commented that he'd been "seeing those shirts everywhere" and I piped up that it was "Nid from England's store." Dierks was like, "Nid's doing this?! Awesome!" and seemed genuinely impressed. Way to go, Nid!
As I was walking up to him, he told me he liked my shirt (it was from the 2006 tour), and gave me a hug. We did the picture thing, and then I told him I had something for him. I gave him one of Alicia's DBCongress decals for his guitar case, which he happily accepted and thanked me for and said he'd put on his guitar case in honor of us. Then I gave him the magnet that Renee from NY had made me last year, and he asked when the picture was taken. I told him it was from Raleigh last summer when he'd signed my yearbook, and he was like, "oh yeah! Have you lost weight? You look great." Um. I have, and thanks for noticing?! I got a little flustered after that, but quickly regrouped to see if I could get something else signed for our lovely DBC Chair, Ronna. (Surprise, Ronna!) (I'd promised to get her 2 of the limited-edition UOTR Tour posters, then had the brilliant idea to have one signed for her.) He quickly agreed, and as I was pulling the posters out, I told him that I do the chart updates for the website and he said that he "loved the site" and that we all "do such a great job with it." I thanked him for posting in our chat box and also for the tweet from the previous night -- I was so happy that I remembered everything! So he signed Ronna's poster, and then proceeded to sign mine as well. I thanked him for spoiling me and he said, "oh no, I'm the spoiled one, with fans like you guys." Aw.
After Tammi and Laurie had their M&Gs, we all gathered around for our group picture. In the back, Laurie was on one side of Dierks, and Angie was on the other. While we were getting the picture taken, Angie's phone started to vibrate, and Dierks mentioned that somebody was vibrating, and Laurie commented that she could feel it, too, through Dierks. It was the first of many funny moments. After that, he talked a little about the tour and the album, and one of us mentioned watching him on Leno. He didn't stay up to watch it, by the way, because he had a 4 am lobby call the next morning, but did watch it eventually. Sandra mentioned that she set her alarm for 11:25 pm so she could watch it, but had to sit through Jessica Simpson. Dierks then commented that Jessica's boobs are the size of her head, and when he was watching it he measured her head with his fingers and then her boobs, and yep, same size. ?! Then he commented how the dress she was wearing was obviously padded and "she doesn't need it!" He seemed to genuinely not understand why she'd use padding for anything, it was hysterical. Then we all sort of realized that we were talking with Dierks Bentley about Jessica Simpson's chest, and it got very silly for a minute. After that, he went through and gave everybody hugs -- it was over so fast! -- and when he gave me mine, he thanked me again for all the work on the website and said to keep it up. Our pleasure!
We headed back inside, linked up, and made our way back to the front of the stage, which was not that easy of a task! We only had about a 20 minute wait before Hayes Carll took the stage to get us ready for Dierks. I enjoyed his set. He was funny, and definitely set the tone for the show. His bass player, Bonnie Whitmore, has an UNREAL voice.
After a quick stage change-over, it was time for Dierks! Jason Carter (fiddle) and Rob McCoury (banjo) came out first, and started getting things going. Then Ronnie McCoury (mandolin), Dierks, and Alan Bartram (upright bass) came out. They kicked off the show with Free & Easy, which got the crowd completely pumped up and is completely awesome with a kick of bluegrass thrown in! After that, the track listing included oldies/goodies Feel That Fire, Settle for a Slowdown, Sideways, Come a Little Closer, How Am I Doin?, and What Was I Thinking. Up on the Ridge got HUGE response, and I'm proud to say that the Congress girls were right up front and yelling along to the song. The girl next to me was staring at me like, "you know this?" Haha! He also sang quite a few songs from the new album, including Rovin' Gambler, Bottle to the Bottom, and Fiddlin' Around -- which might be my new favorite song. I LOVED it. I was singing along by the end of it! But the two highlights of the show for me were his "Ode to Del McCoury" which was Good Man Like Me (!) and his 'therapy session' after How Am I Doin? which ended up being a rousing cover of All My Exes Live in Texas -- the song that introduced me to George Strait and country music. I was in heaven! It should also be noted that Dierks gave Bud Lights to Keesh, Lissa, and Sandra (who got 2) while giving a special shout-out to "the best fan club in the world which is lining the front of the stage tonight." Sandra had one of her bottles signed after the show, too, when Dierks stayed onstage for about 15 minutes or so, giving high-fives, and signing everything from boots to cell phones!
On the whole, it was a fantastic night. The show was incredible, and I left completely 100% excited for the CD. The crowd was really into it, and Dierks looked the happiest I think I've really ever seen him -- he was totally in his element, and the energy just spread throughout the place. I didn't hear anybody grumbling about how "bluegrass" the show was, or anything like that, which made me really happy. And Dierks prefaced the show by saying "if you're here to see a typical Dierks Bentley show which includes lots of drums, guitars, and me running around, you came to the wrong show." I loved it. I appreciate him so much for putting himself out there this way, and introducing us to this side of his love for music. I love getting to see what shaped him as an artist, and this tour is absolutely perfect for that.
So, Dierks, if you read this, thank you, so much for doing what you do. Thanks for being so awesome to your fans, and thanks for always making me walk away with a smile on my face. And if it weren't for you, I wouldn't be part of this awesome community of people ... and I think my life would be much emptier without them!
~ Carrie S. (Chart Reporter/DBC Rep ~ NC)