Country star Dierks Bentley spent much of last year on the road playing bluegrass, supporting his Grammy Award-nominated “specialized” album “Up on the Ridge.”
This year he’s headlining the Jägermeister Country Tour, which ... well, the name kind of speaks for itself.
“Yeah, people ask me, ‘What can we expect? What kind of show is it?’ And I say, ‘Well, it is the Jägermeister County Tour — that describes it pretty well,” Bentley, 35, says with a laugh. “It’s everything I kinda thought it would be. It’s just been rowdy crowds and loud, fun shows.
“It’s a crowd that comes out to party, and as a band our show kinda leans that way. We bring it down a little, do some of the stuff off ‘Ridge,’ but we want to be part of the party as well, so it’s kind of a loud, rocking show and everything’s plugged in, turned on, cranked up.
“We’re having a blast, man.”
Then again, Bentley should be enjoying himself under any circumstances.
Since releasing his debut album in 2000, the Arizona-born singer and songwriter has notched three No. 1 country albums and five that have also crossed over into the Billboard 200. He’s also topped the country singles chart seven times and has a pair of CMT Music Awards as well as a trophy each from the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music on his shelf.
Bentley was even successful veering from the tried and true country path. Besides its three Grammy nominations, “Up On the Ridge” hit a not-too-shabby No. 2 on the country chart and No. 1 on the bluegrass survey.
Now, however, Bentley is getting back to where he came from. Earlier this year he started work on his next album, recording 15 songs in five days in Asheville, N.C. Bentley still has work to do on it, including recording his vocals, but he does have one of the tracks, “Am I the Only One,” out as a single.
“I wanted to have something out there for the summertime, and this just felt like the right song for that,” says Bentley, who wrote 11 of the 15 tracks himself and expects to put 12 or 13 on the final album. “I’ve been off the radio for a while ’cause I wanted to make an album that was important to me, musically, but wasn’t as commercial. But now I want to be back on (radio) and I wanted my fans to hear our stuff.
“I just wanted to come back with a song that was fun for fans and fun for country radio and fun for us to play every night ... and (‘Am I the Only One’) fits in there.”
But Bentley — who also recorded a new song called “Line No. 7” during March in Detroit as part of Esquire magazine’s “Last Night in Detroit” project — adds that “Am I the Only One” is “not representative of the whole rest of the album,” which he says covers a wide gamut of styles, subjects, feels and moods.
“I’ve always covered a wide gauntlet of stuff, and this album’s gonna do the same thing,” he explains. “I can’t think of what to call it except just country, my kind of country music. I don’t have a good explanation for it other than it’s not bluegrass. There’s some fun songs, some heartbreak songs ... and of course being a dad now, too, that works its way in there.
“I’m really proud of it. I think we developed a cool sound.”
When we’ll hear the rest of those songs remains up in the air.
“I’m not really in a rush,” says Bentley. “It’s impossible for me to do this Jäger tour and go in and do vocals. So we might go with another single before (the album) comes out or something. It might wait a little longer to make sure I have exactly the best possible vocals I can put on.
“But (‘I’m Not the Only One’) is out there, so people know I’m still around, which is the important thing.”
Dierks Bentley headlines the Jägermeister Country Tour with Josh Thompson and Miss Willie Brown at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 6, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Tickets are $35 and $45. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.
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