Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Great Bluegrass Debate

As most of you know, Team Dude breaks it down in the middle of it's live show and does a "late-night jam session on the bus" featuring bluegrass versions of some familiar songs.  Opinions seem to vary on the segment.  A recent blog on Ben Salmon's Frequency said the following:

My Biggest beef with the show is that bluegrass- a major influence on Bentley (he says) and the basis for his 2010 album "Up on The Ridge"- was given such an obligatory treatment.  Mid-show, the band brought out the upright bass, mandolin, fiddle, and banjo, but rather than rip through two or three or four songs from "Ridge", they aimed straight for the lowest common denominator.  They did the title track (and single) from the record, then used a "late-night jam session on the bus" construct to do a medley of familiar tunes, bluegrass style:  the "Dukes of Hazzard" theme, "All My Exes live in Texas", Billy idol's "Rebel Yell", Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive", and then a cover of U2's "Pride (in the Name of Love)" that was on the "Ridge" album.
People seemed to dig it- the "Dukes" theme, Billy Idol, and Bon Jovi tickled their nostalgia bones, no doubt- but it turned me off.  In fact, I thought it bordered on disrespectful to a style that Bentley claims to hold dear to his heart (and I believe him).  Think about it: Rather then showcase their chops and the genre they love by actually playing bluegrass songs, it was as is if the band feared losing the audience by playing bluegrass, so it chose to do its most accessible origin, one serious cover, and a bunch of half-jokey songs before scurrying back to the party country folks came to hear.
That's not honoring bluegrass music.  That's just kind of weak.  And I truly believe Dierks Bentley is better than that.

The blog features a review of the rest of the show in Oregon.  Here's the Link.

For those of you who haven't seen the bluegrass portion of the show (or who want to see it again), here's a video I shot in Westbury, NY.  Keep in mind, I'm not a professional ;-)

So... What do you think?  Thumbs up or thumbs down on the bluegrass??  Discuss.

DB Congress Rep


  1. He has done that for as long as I have seen him. He just changes up what songs he does. If you don't want to hear Dierks play bluegrass, don't go to his concert. I think it is something unique for him and he should not change it at all.

  2. the bluegrass cuts on each album are my favorite ones. i have always loved bluegrass, but didn't even listen to country until last year. i would be fine with an all bluegrass show, but have no problem with what he does in his live show. saw him in boone, nc in july and my daughter was happy he did a lot of his hits because she knows them all. any way he does a show is fine by me. and most critics say it is obvious that he knows and understands bluegrass. harriett

  3. I love the bluegrass part - wish they'd do more of it!

  4. I don't think the author had a problem with the bluegrass, I think it was the choice of songs he had a problem with. I fully agree that instead of silly cover tunes, Dierks & the band should play more of the stuff from Ridge. I'd much rather hear 'Draw Me a Map' over Billy Idol any day.

  5. Stephanie totally said what I was going to say. :)

    The bluegrass segment of a Dierks concert has long been my favorite part. The UOTR tour will likely stand as my favorite Dierks tour - I just L-O-V-E Dierks in his element like that, and I truly believe that's when he sounds his best.

    However, after I read the blog, I did stop to think about how that segment has evolved to what it is today, and how even hearing Dierks "grassify" his own songs would be probably more welcome than Billy Idol and Bon Jovi. I heard him do a grassy Come a Little Closer before UOTR and it was magnificent. I'd also be content if he were to cover great Bluegrass artists, such as the Louvin Brothers or Daly & Vincent - UOTR was great to more fully introduce us to the genre and instrumentation. I'd love to see him further immerse himself in the bluegrass and take us fans with him. :)

  6. Agree. It is kind of a cop out, but I do understand why he does it. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to play the game of mass appeal and that sucks. I am just grateful that the ridge tour happened; it was fantastic and it really did honor the genre while maintaining the "dierks". I would love to hear more of uotr on the setlist. But I'm not gonna lie, I sing along to rebel yell every time!

  7. hey guys, i commented on his review and he replied. when you have time, click on the link to see his comment and my reply back. in my first reply, i asked if he had ever heard the bluegrass tracks from each of the previous albums. he said that he hadn't but would. harriett