Sunday, May 15, 2016

DB Congress Exclusive Interview: Ben Helson, Dierks Bentley's New Lead Guitarist

Ben Helson far right/foreground; From left: Dierks Bentley, Steve Misamore, Tim Sergent
Photo Credit: Zach Belcher 

While we were sad to see Brian Layson leave, we are excited to welcome to the DBC family Dierks Bentley's new lead guitarist, Ben Helson!  Ben joined Team Dude March 31, 2016 and he was gracious enough to answer questions from DB Congress reps in the middle of the Somewhere On A Beach Tour!  

We can already tell his sense of humor is right on par with the rest of the band and his talent has already been proven on stage. He's played in bluegrass, rock and country bands, which he says set him up perfectly to play for Dierks and draw musically from each of those influences!  

Introducing...Ben Helson!


DBC: Where were you when you got the call/text to be part of Dierks band? And what did you
think when you were asked to join the band? PS: Welcome to the family! (Adrian Taylor,

BH: Thanks, Adrian! I was actually in Italy of all places. I received a text from Dierks who asked
me to give him a call when I had a minute. Of course my heart was racing pretty fast, as I’m
sure is normal when one of your hero’s texts you. He was super cool and asked if I’d like to
come and play some guitar with him and the guys, and here I am. That’s the short version… I
think I blacked out for the rest of the conversation, haha. An unbelievable moment to say the

DBC: When did you start playing (age?) and what was the first song you learned? What other
instruments do you play besides guitar? (Linda Alberts, FL)

BH: I started playing around the age of 13. My dad taught me my first song on the guitar which
was the old bluegrass tune, Home Sweet Home. As far as other instruments, I play a little
mandolin, banjo, bass, dobro, and piano!

DBC: I saw you playing in Dublin and I thought you fit in with the band perfectly. I loved your
guitar playing. My question is, when you started to play guitar, was this the kind of
music you envisioned yourself playing, or did you see yourself taking another path?
(Reet Eaton, Ireland)

BH: Thanks so much! Honestly, I was all over the map musically. I played in a bluegrass band
with my dad, a rock band with my friends at school, and in a few different country bands in
the area. I loved them all. I had no real preference, I just wanted to play music 24/7. I never
imagined it leading to the place I’m at now, but I’m so thankful it did. Looking back, playing
all those styles of music set me up perfectly for Dierks’ band. It’s the first gig I’ve had where I
get a chance to draw heavily from each of those influences!

DBC: Aren’t you originally from Brownsville, Kentucky? Tell us about your family. (Meredith
Mauer, SC)

BH: I am indeed. My family is amazing! I come from a musical family. My mother grew up playing
bass in gospel groups and my dad plays guitar and sings. My step-mother is also a great
piano player and singer. They were always very supportive of me and my dreams of playing
music. I also have 2 brothers and a sister who are awesome. I’m very proud of them all!

DBC: What weird or interesting initiation or pranks did Dierks band play on you? (Grace
Lenehan, TN)

BH: Nothing too big just yet. I have a feeling they’re still cooking something up!

DBC: Do you have a nickname, if so what is it and the story behind it? (Kathy Butler, IN)

BH: I’ve never had a nickname that has stuck. However, because I have a pretty thick
southern accent, people usually think I say Dan when they ask my name. It happens all
the time, haha!

DBC: Who are your musical influences? (Heather Ashley, TN)

BH: Too many to count. Everyone from Van Halen to Tony Rice to Django Reinhardt to Keith
Whitley. I could go on and on but I’ll stop there for now!

DBC: You have toured with mostly female artists—Rhonda Vincent, Danielle Bradbery and
most recently Maddie & Tae. How is it different touring with all guys now? (Ronna Clark,

BH: The bus doesn’t smell as nice. Haha!

DBC: Who would you like to play with/for dead or alive? (Linda Alberts, FL)

BH: That’s a tough one. I'm thankful to have had the amazing opportunity to share the stage with a
lot of my heroes thus far. But some that come to mind that I would/would’ve loved to play
with are, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, Keith Whitley, and Alison Krauss. I’m sure I’ll think
of a hundred more as soon as I send this out, ha!

DBC: Who is your favorite guitarist and why? (David Mattingly, KY)

BH: If I absolutely had to narrow it down to one person, it would have to be Bryan Sutton. When I
heard a Ricky Skaggs record that he played on, that’s the moment that made me really want
to start taking guitar seriously. I didn’t know that people could play like that. He plays
acoustic guitar (and lots of other instruments) on numerous recordings in Nashville, including
Dierks’. He adapts so easily to whatever style he’s asked to play and seems to always have
the right ideas and approach to every song!

DBC: Did you become friends with Dierks/mates while on tour with Maddie & Tae? (David
Mattingly, KY)

BH: Yes, we got a chance to hang out quite a bit with Dierks and the band while we were out with
him last summer. Dierks does an amazing job of making everybody on each tour feel like
family, and the Sounds of Summer tour was no exception. It seemed like each night all the
bands and artists would end up hanging out and having backstage jam sessions. Fun times!

DBC: Have things been as expected so far? Or have there been some surprises during
rehearsal/tour? (Amy Wicks, FL)

BH: The transition to this role has been surprisingly stress free. Everyone in the band and crew
(including Dierks) has gone above and beyond to make me feel comfortable and made sure I was set up for success right off the bat. The only aspect that was a little surprising is how much freedom there is to be yourself musically. They embrace the idea that everyone has their own musical personality and will encourage each other to bring that to the table!

DBC: What is your favorite DB song to play live and why? (Sherrie Shamon, FL)

BH: I love so many different ones for different reasons. However, right now I’d have to say Black.
It’s just different than anything I’ve gotten to play before!  I also really like 5150, Lot of Leavin’, and Freedom, too. Those are great guitar songs!

DBC: You were a musician with Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder and directed the
Renaissance Bluegrass at Bethel University in Tennessee. Did that background help
influence Dierks’ bluegrass “Up On The Ridge” to be the show opener for the
Somewhere On A Beach Tour? (Ronna Clark, FL)

BH: I’d like to think it did, haha. Dierks seems to have a never-ending reservoir of ideas and this
one seemed to come about very organically, right before our first show in Ireland. He thought
that since the country of Ireland had such a rich history of Celtic fiddle music, it would be cool
to open the show with the banjo and fiddle. We all liked it so much we thought we would give
it a shot on the SOAB tour. So far people seem to dig it, which lets me know that DB has a lot
of cool fans!

DBC: What are you looking forward to the most in regards to this summer's tour? What
venue/city are you the most excited about playing? (Nancy Eaton, ME)

BH: I can’t think of anything in particular that I’m looking forward to more than just being on stage
with Dierks and the band each night. He and the band bring so much energy to the table, it’s
impossible not to have a ridiculous amount of fun on stage. Each night I’ve had to pinch
myself to be sure it’s all real.

DBC: When you have time outside of music, what are your hobbies? Are you a sports fan?
Favorite team(s)? (David Mattingly, KY)

BH: Not really a sports fan, which I know is borderline sinful when you’re from Kentucky, haha.
When I’m not traveling, I mainly try to be intentional about spending quality time, in whatever
facet, with close friends/family, and of course my wife, Danielle. But, I’m still just as into
playing/practicing music as much as ever, so there’s usually an instrument close by at home.
So, my hobby outside of music is still music I guess, haha!

DBC: What's the craziest fan encounter so far? Have you been warned some of us (DBC
reps) are a little crazy? (Kathy Butler, IN).

BH: Hahaha, no crazy encounters yet, just a lot of support which I appreciate greatly!

DBC: What do you like best about touring with Dierks? (Sherrie Shamon, FL)

BH: Concise answer is… everything. I’m having the time of my life out here. One specific
thing is getting to see how much he doesn’t take anything concerning his success for
granted. He knows where he came from and is thankful for where he’s at. It’s easy to
root for a guy like that.

DBC: What one thing can you tell us about Dierks that we die-hard fans don’t already
know? (Ronna Clark, FL)

BH: I should be the one asking you all! Maybe how seriously knowledgeable he is about
bluegrass and country music. Pretty incredible. But I have a feeling you already knew

Thanks for the questions. I’m so thrilled to be apart of the DB team and I know I have
impossibly giant shoes to fill from Brian Layson (he’s the man!). So thanks for being so
supportive everybody. It means a lot!

Thank YOU, Ben! See you on the tour!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Dierks Bentley: "Black," The Video

Part 4

"Come A Little Closer" just lost it's longstanding crown of Dierks Bentley's career love songs to newcomer, "Black."

The fourth and final video in the series of songs leading up to the album, the title track is intoxicatingly sexy, but the mystery continues when the girl walks out on the sleeping lover.  Is she going to turn herself in? Is the boyfriend really dead?  Is she trying to spare the other guy from being involved? You'll have to draw your own conclusions, as director Wes Edwards keeps you guessing in the black and white (to match the theme of the album) conclusion to the mini-series.

My wife said, 'I thought this was supposed to be a love song,'" recalls the singer-songwriter, who titled his album Black as a nod to wife Cassidy's maiden name. "I said, 'Black' is the love song. And she said, 'But it's not a love song. . . it's an in-the-moment love song.'"


Written by Dierks Bentley, Ashley Gorley and Ross Copperman

The moon outside too bright
Those blinds
Yeah let's just keep em closed
You know my hands they know where to go
To find your fingertips
Trace em back to your lips
Take you on a trip
Flip that switch

Make my world go black
Hit me like a heart attack
Knock me flat on my back yeah
Just keep doing that
That thing you're doing there
Brush me with your hair

I swear, I don't know how long that I can last
Make my world go black
Make my world go black

Like your dress on the floor
Yeah the one you don't need anymore
Black like a sky with no stars
Just find me and fall into my arms

And make my world go black
Hit me like a heart attack
Knock me flat on my back yeah
Just keep doing that
That thing you're doing there
Brush me with your hair
I swear, I don't know how long that I can last
Make my world go black
Make my world go black

I don’t want to see a thing
Baby I just want to feel your touch
Feel your rush
I don’t want to see a thing
I just want to feel your love
Make my world go black
Hit me like a heart attack
Knock me flat on my back yeah
Just keep doing that
That thing you're doing there
Brush me with your hair

I swear, I don't know how long that I can last
Make my world go black
Make my world go black

I don't wanna see a thing
I just want to feel your touch
Feel your love

Read more:

Dierks Bentley: "Pick Up" Video

Part 3

"We can pick up right where we left off," sings Dierks Bentley in part three of the video series that started with a love triangle story-line in "I'll Be The Moon, followed by "What The Hell Did I Say," where the lover, played by Austin Cook, leaves texts on the girls phone that her live-in boyfriend reads while she's sleeping.

The video "Pick Up" starts with her waking up to a missing phone and an angry, abusive boyfriend.  While the lover is desperate to get her to pick up the phone, he drives to her house to find her on the floor.  Watch to the very end to see the shocking scene.

The four-video series is chronicled exclusively at featuring four songs from Dierks Bentley's upcoming album Black releasing May 27.

"When you're in the throes of a relationship, it can be crazy and lustful, even obsessive and jealous," says Bentley. "'Pick Up' drops into the sequence as that point when you just have to be closer to your girl. For the storyline and plot of these videos, Wes [Edwards, director] definitely takes it there and puts a shocking spin on it."

iTunes put "Pick Up" at #79 on the Country Chart today, while "I'll Be The Moon" lands at #114 and "What The Hell Did I Say" is #137.  The fact that these songs charted at all on iTunes without even being released as singles speaks volumes about the power of video and Dierks!

Stayed tuned for our recap of the fourth video, "Black," to close out the series.

Dierks kicked off his Somewhere On A Beach Tour Thursday night in Homdel, NJ, complete with a "Black" Bus before the shows for Black Card holders to listen to the whole album prior to the May 27 release.  Great way to give something special to the hard core fans!  He even jumped on the bus himself!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Dream Comes True for Ireland DB Congress Rep; Sees Dierks in Dublin

You may remember we told told you about our one and only Ireland DB Congress member, Rita (Reet) Eaton, who promotes Dierks daily--without every having seen a show or meeting him.  In April, Reet finally had the opportunity when Dierks did a show in Dublin.  Here's her story:

To say that I've been looking forward to seeing Dierks play live for a while now would probably be an understatement. I had thought about trying to save money to get over to the U.S. to see him, but when I heard last October/November that he was coming to Ireland, let's just say I was a little ecstatic. Oh hell......let's be honest here....I was freaking over the moon. I couldn't believe it. Dreams really do come true.

So, on November 19th 2015, I got my Dierks tickets. No's 6 and 7. Happy bunny here I can tell you. only problem was the gig wasn't until April 21st 2016....5 whole months to wait. A lifetime away, or so it seemed. Some of you may have been aware that I was counting down the days!

We have a few Country Music TV programmes over here in Ireland and I started sending in requests for Dierks videos and songs, telling them about his upcoming concert and was lucky enough to get him mentioned on a couple of the programmes, and get the videos and songs played.

I have been friends with a few DB Congress reps and Dierks fans on Facebook and Twitter and was delighted when I found out some of them were coming over for the show. I met up with Janet, David and Jim in Dublin. We had a great time. They were so nice, and before too long we were getting on like a house on fire. They all made my first Dierks gig so much more fun. David and Jim had some really cool stickers made especially for the Dublin show and we were giving them out to all and sundry.

Time went by and finally, FINALLY, April 21st was here. OMG! I'm going to see Dierks.

We were standing in line outside The Olympia Theatre in Dublin for a couple of hours wanting to make sure that we got a good spot (I mean....that's normal right?) when all of a sudden, there in front of me was DIERKS. FREAKIN'. BENTLEY. It took me a minute for this to sink in. Then I managed to pull myself together.

The first thing that hit me was how quiet and unassuming he was. I mean, when you see him on stage (and up to this point I've only seen videos and clips that have been posted up) he's there in front of you...larger than life, owning the stage and the audience. You almost expect him to be this larger than life personality off stage too, But no, he seems humble, normal, just an everyday sort of dude. At least that's how he came across to me anyway.

Having been around bands and musicians for a big part of my life I am all too aware that what you see on stage, isn't what you see off stage. But this was DIERKS. FREAKIN'. BENTLEY. He's in the Hall of Fame (exhibit) in Nashville. He co-hosted the ACM's. He's a huge Country Music Star in the U.S.......and here he is standing in front of me...on the street.....outside The Olympia Theatre. WOW!

Stashed in my bag I had some Irish Whiskeys which I didn't know if I was going to be able to sneak in or not. Luckily I didn't have to worry about that anymore. I gave them to him there and then, along with some Green Cups (as opposed to Red) as he was in Ireland after all. And yes, he used said Green Cups on stage (me privately chuffed). I also managed to get a "Selfie" taken with him (and I hate having my picture taken). It wasn't too long before a small crowd gathered and a few more "Selfies" were being taken. Dierks was great sharing his time.

After that, it was time to go into The Olympia. Second highlight of my day.....I had yet to have my Meet and Greet with Dierks. I had my picture taken with him (again) and he signed my new "Black" t-shirt. He said that was his first time seeing them so that's my claim to fame. Dierks Bentley signed MY "Black" t-shirt first. 😊 Unfortunately, as my brain was not functioning at this point and I didn't get to say thanks to Dierks. Not only for his wonderful music, but also for the incredible friends in DB Congress that I have made through him. That's really what I wanted the Meet and Greet for, but my brain had pretty much left the building at this point.

Off I went into the venue. We managed to get front row spots. No one in front of us, but plenty behind us.

At 8 pm Dierks' support act, Tucker Beathard, came on and showed us his musical talent. He was brilliant. Just him and his guitar, and as Dierks said, it's not easy to come out on stage, in a strange Country, and do what he did, but he did it with no problem at all and the crowd loved him. I loved him, too. A new fan for Tucker.

Finally, it was time.

Dan Hochhalter and Tim Sergent appeared on stage playing an intro with an Irish twist on the fiddle and banjo. This turned out to be the intro to "Up On The Ridge." Soon they were joined by the rest of the band, Cassady Feasby, Steve Misamore, Ben Helson, and Dierks himself for the full version of the song. So damned good.

My night had started. I was flying.

The night went on with many favourites (old and new)...."Free and Easy," "Tip It On Back," "Am I The Only One," "Say You Do," "I Hold On," "Every Mile A Memory," "Freedom," "Lot Of Leaving Left To Do," "Black," "Somewhere On A Beach," "Sideways," "I'll Be The Moon," "What The Hell Did I Say," then finishing the night with the only song that can finish a night like that off, "Drunk On A Plane."  In between his set he paid tribute to Merle Haggard and sang one of his songs, also mentioning Prince who had died that day.

Dierks had the crowd in the palm of his hand. He drew everyone in and made you feel like he was singing to you personally. He showed the audience his new "old" boots telling everyone how he got them and where they came from (from his DB Congress!).  He's real pleased with those boots.

The Band were just incredible and Ben, the new guitarist, fits right in perfectly. Every single person left The Olympia Theatre in Dublin on a high knowing that they had just witnessed one hell of a show, and one hell of a singer. It was special. No one was disappointed.

We all made our way out of The Olympia having made new friends along the way, gathered outside talking about the incredible night we'd all just had.

The only down side? I was just so sad that it was all over so soon. I had a serious case of Dierks Post Concert Blues.

What the night of April 21st 2016 did for me was make me even more determined to go to MM4K (Miles and Music For Kids) in 2017. Wild horses won't keep me away from that now. No Way.

So there you have it. My first ever Dierks Bentley experience. I just hope I manage to have many more.

Thank you Dierks for probably THE most memorable night of my life.....and that's saying something because I've seen a fair few bands, but nothing like this.

Oh yeah....a small P.S. We even made a brief appearance in the small compilation video that Dierks posted of his Dublin/London/Glasgow trips.

-Reet Eaton
DB Congress Rep

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Best Friend and Dierks Bentley Inspire DB Congress Rep to Run Boston Marathon

Prepare to be deeply moved by fellow DB Congress rep, Nancy Eaton (Maine), as she tells her brave and inspirational story.

My Journey to the Boston Marathon
by Nancy Eaton

Nancy Eaton crosses the finish line of the 2016 Boston Marathon

I started running at the age of 47. I had just gone through a difficult divorce and my life consisted of working 50-60 hours a week in Boston as a nurse in Labor and Delivery and raising my six kids. There needed to be some sort of stress-reducer in my life. So I started running. The more I ran, the more I loved it. Running took me away from the stress of my life and helped me find inner peace. It took me out of my head for the hours I was able to squeeze into my week.

A couple of years after taking up running, a new nurse came to work on my unit. Her name was Amanda Turner Russell and we hit it off immediately. We both loved Disney, traveling, music, reading and nursing. She was a ray of sunshine on our unit, always smiling. She was one of the most incredible nurses I have ever met, always up for a challenge, caring for the most difficult of patients. She was also very very funny, always making us laugh over various situations. We bonded over our running and we started running Disney races together. She was all about the costumes and the characters, I was all about my finish time.

Amanda and Nancy

Amanda loved taking pictures of sunrises, we worked the night shift. Every morning she would go to the roof of our building and snap a picture of the sunrise. If I was on vacation or off that night, I would awaken to the sunrise picture of the day on my Facebook page! I loved that she was always trying to make me smile even when we weren’t together.

Pushin' comes to shove, and hey I'm a fighter...

We also bonded over our love of music. I fell in love with Dierks Bentley’s music the first time I heard him sing "Home" at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. My daughter is a midshipman there and she asked me to come to the concert. The respect he showed to all the midshipmen was something I will never forget. I started downloading all of his music and running to it. Right now I have about 20 miles of his songs on my iPod. If I feel like I can’t finish my run I put on Riser. It reminds me that I can do anything I set my mind to.

I went to my first real concert in the summer of 2015. My daughter and I drove to Virginia Beach from Maine and stood in the pit for hours waiting for Dierks to perform. Amanda loved and supported my musical obsession, patiently waiting for me to access the Ticketmaster app on my phone when we were in Disney so I could get tickets to another Dierks concert.

Nancy, Dierks Bentley, Nancy's daughter

In the Fall of 2015, Amanda decided to run the Boston Marathon for our Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center hospital team, hoping to raise $7,000 for our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). When she asked me to join her I told her I was trying to qualify for Boston so I would pass, but that I would donate to her cause.

On December 23, 2015, Amanda was on a training run when she was hit by a car driven by an impaired driver. She sustained severe head injuries and was declared brain dead 5 days later. Her organs were harvested and she passed away on Dec 29th at the age of 32. She left a young son, her family, and hundreds of friends devastated. At her bedside Amanda’s Mom asked me to run the marathon in her place. After breaking my foot twice in 2015 I was unsure if I could complete a full marathon so soon, but I knew I had to try. I felt as though I had to do this one last thing for my friend.

Brave, gotta call it brave...

So I began training, increasing my miles every week, getting ready for the Boston Marathon. In an attempt to bring me inspiration during my run I started collecting signatures of country singers on my running shirt. Dierks was the first person to sign my shirt! Amanda would have loved that! It has been an emotional couple of months. Running for her has brought me great joy, brought the nurses on my unit closer together, but it has also made me miss her even more. Every long run I would think about how it should have been her who was running, not me.

After weeks of training, Monday April 18th finally arrived! This was my 8th marathon and I have to say that it was definitely my hardest. It was hot, started later in the day, and we ended up running into the wind for the last 9 miles or so. I wore a Disney sparkle skirt in memory of Amanda. The race course was covered with friends, family, coworkers cheering me on. It was like running a Disney race, stopping for pictures along the way. The love I felt while running was incredible.

At mile 25 my daughter helped me me put on the wings that Amanda had made for me when we ran the Dopey challenge at Disney, 4 races in 4 days--it was the January after the Boston Marathon bombing. They truly carried me to the finish line on April 18,  2016. Not sure my legs and feet were working anymore!

I was also greeted with a sign that I should run faster because Dierks Bentley was at the finish line. Between the wings and the Dierks music in my ears, I was able to complete this race, receiving a hug from two more of my kids who were waiting right at the finish line.

Amanda’s Mom, sister and Godmother were at the finish line as well. As soon as possible I gave them Amanda’s bib and medal! In her life she touched so many people and continues to do so after her death.  Her fundraising page has raised more than $26,000 for the NICU, her heart, lungs and kidney are giving life to others, and her beautiful soul is present in every sunrise. 

Thank you, Nancy, for sharing your incredible story!  I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda briefly in November when she and you had just finished your Disney 4 races in 4 days. Just as Amanda was in inspiration to you, you are an inspiration to your fellow DB Congress reps! We're so proud to have you on our team representing and promoting Dierks daily!

DB Congress Chair (FL)