Culture / Entertainment

In Conversation With Country Music Legend Dierks Bentley Ahead Of His First Concert At Dickies Arena

Fort Worth Is The Only Texas Stop On His Gravel & Gold Tour

BY // 05.30.24

Twenty years into his notable career, one of country music’s biggest names ― multi-platinum singer and songwriter Dierks Bentley took time to reflect and enjoy the view from the summit. His 10th studio album Gravel & Gold, was released in February of 2023. It was his first since The Mountain was released in the summer of 2018. He toured nationwide last summer ― on a 28-city trek, without a single stop in Tennessee or Texas. Not a one. But, that’s about to change.

As he heads back out for the second summer of his Gravel & Gold Tour, Bentley makes amends to his fan base in both states (each a country music mecca all its own) by kicking this summer off in Memphis on June 6, before his only Texas stop at Fort Worth’s Dickies Arena on June 7.

Bentley landed his first publishing deal in 2001 and released his debut album in 2003, seeing his first single “What Was I Thinkin’” climb to No. 1 on the Billboard Country chart that year. The legendary singer has had 22 No. 1 songs since then, the most recent for his song “Gold” the title song on the new album. Over the years, he has produced nine more albums, bringing home three CMA awards, and receiving 15 Grammy nominations. The kid from Arizona who came to Nashville with stars in his eyes is now a member of the Grand Ole Opry. It’s been a wild ride.

So, when Covid pushed the pause button on the world, Dierks Bentley hunkered down at his Telluride, Colorado home with his family, and took the opportunity to slow down and reflect on his life and career. After all, it’s a unique perch. When cabin fever set in, he picked up his guitar and began collaborating with friends, which first happened on Zoom calls ― resulting in Gravel & Gold.

Dierks Bentley Gravel & Gold Tour Dickies Arena.
Dierks Bentley brings his Gravel & Gold Tour to Texas for the first time – one night only at Dickies Arena.

Finding His Happy Place

When PaperCity Fort Worth caught up with Dierks Bentley, about a week before his summer tour kick-off in Memphis, he was still juggling parenting duties, conducting our interview while at his son’s (raucous) hockey practice. But, soon he’ll get back to work. In recent years, the summer touring season has become his primary work season.

“I’m busy packing the bikes and the pickleball paddles, and everything we do in between shows,” Dierks Bentley tells us.

“We really pack it into the summer so that we can be present during the school year. I’ll be rehearsing with the band later today.” That’s what the week before a big tour looks like for this father of three ― going from hockey practice to tour rehearsal.

Over the years, Dierks Bentley has bounced between honkey tonk classics including “Heartbreak Drinking Tour” and soulful ballads like “Still” which Bentley tells us is one of his favorites off the new album. But he always comes back to bluegrass. A bit of banjo and mandolin go a long way. In fact, that’s what led him to his “happy place.”

“I discovered Telluride in 1997, playing at the Bluegrass Festival,” he says. Of course, these days he hosts his own Seven Peaks Music Festival in Colorado.

“I love bluegrass, the harmonizing of the vocals and instruments,” Bentley says. “People playing bluegrass, aren’t doing it for the money.” The purity of the form and the tightness of the community are something he appreciates. And, you can still find that familiar sound in many of his songs.

Telluride has become a grounding oasis for the busy performer ― a playground to share with his family ― skiing and mountain biking.

“The West is a special place for me,” he says. “Anywhere in the four corners states, with big sky ― places less populated and surrounded by nature. Colorado has become a grounding place. It’s where I go to recharge. Gravel is gold to me.”

Of course, his work takes him back to Nashville often. That’s where he finished his most recent album, and Bentley says, “There’s a lot to love in Tennessee as well. It just took a fresh set of eyes to appreciate it.”

Dierks Bentley Gravel & Gold Tour Fort Worth
Gravel & Gold tour continues with one stop in Texas, at Fort Worth’s Dickies Arena.

Cowboy Boots and Whiskey

Bentley collaborated with Ashley McBryde on the song “Cowboy Boots.”And, every country music fan can relate to this quintessential footwear. Every pair has a story.

He tells us that his first pair of boots were Justin ropers. With Justin Boots’ headquarters in Fort Worth, a lot of locals can surely relate.

“I recently found my pair of black Tony Lamas, that I wore in my early days of touring. They were in a storage unit that must have had a water leak,” he said sadly of the memories those boots held for him.

As this tour kicks off, you’ll find Dierks Bentley sporting a pair of Lucchese boots, that have now seen their share of “spilled tequila and beer.”

That leads to one of the other things that ties country music together ― whiskey.

“I drank a lot of Jim Beam over the years,” Bentley says. But, he has a new preference. It’s his own brand called Row 94 Whiskey (in line with his Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row franchise of bars with four locations).

“Row Whiskey is dropping in June. It’s a Kentucky straight aged four years. And, of course, it will be available in Texas. After all, if you’re going to play in Texas … you gotta have a fiddle and your own whiskey brand,” he says only half joking.

As Dierks Bentley gets ready to hit the road, he says this stage of life has helped him appreciate the small things like the “Sunsets In Colorado” and establish “Something Real” ― focusing on his family, being present for his kids, and holding onto integrity and self in a world of pulsating pressures. It’s a good stage to be at, as well as a great vantage point to take in the view.

Teasing the upcoming set list for this summer’s Gravel & Gold Tour, Bentley says, “It will be heavy on fan favorites.” And, Dierks Bentley has plenty to choose from. “I build a roller coaster at concerts, and take people for a ride.”

One new song that he has added to the lineup this year will be his cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” which is his contribution to Petty Country ― the tribute album to Tom by some of his closest friends and collaborators.

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