Time: 7:30 p.m.
Dierks Bentley http://Dierks.com/
In the Fall of 2010, Dierks Bentley played four shows in four nights in
New York City that illustrate just how unique he is among contemporary
country music artists. First, Dierks the
multi-platinum arena headliner played his hits at the Bowery Ballroom.
Then Dierks the bluegrass student and devotee performed with the Del
McCoury Band, and after that it was a songwriter’s night with fellow
Music Row tunesmiths and a show with Chris Thile’s experimental Punch
Probably no other artist on country radio in the past ten years could manage this kind of range and versatility. Especially when one considers the broader record. He’s had eight No. 1 singles and written every one of them. He’s performed at Lollapalooza, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Bonnaroo and the CMA Music Festival, tailoring his sets to each. His instantly recognizable voice and acoustic/electric hybrid sound have propelled him to membership in the Grand Ole Opry and, in 2011, a performance for the President at the White House. All made possible by his devotion to developing all sides of his musicianship.
Dierks has embraced musical diversity in his recording career as well, as his new album Home demonstrates. The project plunges him back into the country mainstream after a successful sojourn in bluegrass and roots music with the acclaimed and Grammy-nominated Up On The Ridge album. Moreover, working with some of Nashville’s most innovative studio musicians, Home finds Dierks singing over some new sonic textures and, for the first time, interpreting a few songs that he didn’t write himself.
“I definitely stepped away from the commercial country world for a little while,” says Dierks, noting that his last such album, Feel That Fire, album came out in early 2009. “That seems like a really long time ago. So this record feels fresh. It doesn’t feel like a continuation of any other project or series of recordings.”
But if there’s newness, there’s also a distinct familiarity about how Dierks and his music are connecting with fans. This sixth album of his Capitol Records Nashville career produced a No. 1 hit even before its release. That album-opening song, “Am I The Only One,” is a rallying cry to the fun-loving Dierks army. And it sets a tone - a good-time song kicking off a good-time record. Fans have already been enjoying tunes like “5-1-5-0” and “Diamonds Make Babies” in shows. The recorded versions will no doubt be spilling out of car windows as the weather warms up in 2012.
Home’s title track gives the mostly light-hearted album a vital, spiritual anchor. The song expresses pride and patriotism without sentimentality or illusions. It unflinchingly speaks of America’s “scars” and her tensions while illuminating those as sources of strength. The writing session took place just four days after the shooting in Tucson, AZ (Dierks’s home state), which took six lives and injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. That tragedy did not inspire the song by any means, but it did cast a shadow and influence Dierks and his co-writers, once some opening lines popped out that seemed to speak to the vitality of being an American in these challenging times.
“It’s really hard to write a patriotic song,” confesses Dierks. “But you want to. It’s something I think about all the time. I love the history of country music and I love the history of our country.” He seems to have pulled it off. The song impressed critics and earned a call from National Public Radio. Dierks was able to tell that audience that the aim was “to be inspiring and hopeful, but also address the realities of what's going on.” Elsewhere on radio, country stations embraced the risky single, despite its departures from any flag-waving formula.
The rest of the project is divided evenly between songs Dierks co-wrote and those he found on an unprecedented song hunt. From the former category we hear “The Woods,” an homage to another side of home, the privacy afforded by those little-known and mysterious backroads and fire circles where friends gather and rites of passage take place. Dierks also co-wrote “Breathe You In,” a pure act of romance and sonic seduction that continues the tone set by the multi-week chartopper “Come A Little Closer” a few years ago. And closing the album, Dierks and Jim Beavers conceived “Thinking Of You,” a connecting, reassuring song that comes honestly from a man who’s away from his family more than he’d like. Daughter Evie makes a brief guest appearance at the end, singing the record’s appropriate final words: “Daddy’s home.”
On the song scouting side, Dierks “reached out to the publishers and let it be known that we were looking for great songs. It didn’t matter where it came from and who wrote it – how big the name or little the name. We were just searching for as many songs to listen to as possible,” he says.
The results are rich. “Diamonds Make Babies” is a country cranker, bristling with electric guitar and a great beat. But the true hook is the lyric, a wry and worldly-wise bit of advice to an eager suitor who thinks he’s ready to get down on one knee and offer the stone. Dierks also throws his vocal power up to “In My Head,” which explores the fine line between love and obsession against a driving, pulsing track. And Dierks reaches back to the influence of one of his favorite musicians – Jamie Hartford – in recording “When You Gonna Come Around.” The slow-dance of a song is a duet with the wonderful Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town and offers some of the most organic textures and honest vocals on the album.
Dierks Bentley’s career in country music could be taught in music business classes because of its rare balance of commercial success and artistic breadth. Most young Nashville newcomers who gravitate to the Station Inn and the city’s bluegrass heritage are not the ones who wind up on arena stages. The city’s not programmed that way, even if it should be. But Dierks made some savvy choices, soaking up sound and wisdom on Tuesday night bluegrass shows and on Wednesday nights on Lower Broadway with the twanging, electrifying Jamie Hartford Band. In those same days, his day job at The Nashville Network’s tape vault gave him access to a library of classic country music performances, which he soaked up like a sponge.
Under these many influences, he wrote and recorded songs that honored the past and the heritage while saying something fresh. Early songs like “I Wish It Would Break” and “Bartenders, Barstools and Barmaids” suggested this was a writer/artist who could add something to the country tradition while speaking a contemporary language. That promise was fulfilled upon teaming up with Capitol with the shocking No. 1 debut “What Was I Thinkin’?” It continued with indelible hits, including “Settle For A Slowdown” and “Every Mile A Memory.”
The tone for Dierks’s career was truly set in 2005. He won the CMA’s Horizon Award for most exceptional emerging artist. And his passion for and stewardship of classic country music earned him membership in the Grand Ole Opry, where he was the third youngest artist ever to be inducted. The first Grammy Award nominations came in 2007 and they quickly became routine. Through the critically acclaimed Up On The Ridge album, he’s earned ten Grammy nods. And throughout, Dierks has pursued a broad-based strategy on the road, juggling arena dates supporting George Strait with club and college shows and now balancing headliner status in country music settings with gritty, jammy tours of rock venues.
“I walk a different path,” Dierks says. “Because of my love of acoustic music, I have opportunities to do different musical things. It’s not just one type of show, which I really think would be a lot easier!” Reflecting on a career that’s sent him from the bars of Lower Broadway to the top of country music, Dierks is a mix of amazement, gratitude and determination. “I don’t know what the next ten years holds but I think I’ve put myself in a position where I can satisfy all of the different things that I love about music.”
Throughout this journey (and critical to it), Dierks has sought out and made use of technologies that could help erase the distance between himself and his fans. The website that went up before the release of Home is perhaps the most audacious expression of that yet. The album’s cover is rendered as a mosaic of miniscule images farmed form Dierks’s nearly 200,000 Twitter followers. Drag over it, and the faces pop out in a magnifier. Click on any tile, and up pops what they’ve been saying – to Dierks and each other. It’s like a microcosm of everything Dierks has cultivated in his fan base: connectivity and immediacy.
He’s done things his own way, satisfied his own muses and done all he can do to bring all kinds of fans along with him. There’s every reason to think they’ll follow him Home too.
Cole Swindell — www.coleswindell.com
Cole Swindell, a Platinum-selling recording artist and record-breaking
six-time No. 1 hit maker, released his second album You Should Be Here
and it shot to No. 1 on the iTunes Top
Country Albums Chart and No. 3 All Genre within hours of release. Its
lead single and title track held a four-week run on top of Billboard’s
Hot Country songs chart (tally of digital streams, radio airplay and
sales) in addition to multiple weeks sitting at No. 1 on country
airplay. His Platinum-certified “You Should Be Here” already boasts over
85 million streams, 1.3 MILLION+ tracks sold and almost 40 million
YouTube views. The career-defining single surpassed over 1 BILLION
audience impressions. The song joins Swindell’s six other No. 1
consecutive singles as a solo artist (including Gold-certified hits “Let
Me See Ya Girl” and most recent No. 1 and Gold-certified “Middle of a
Memory” along with Platinum-certified hits “Hope You Get Lonely
Tonight,” “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey,” “Chillin’ It” from his
Platinum-selling self-titled debut album). This tops his own record of
being the only solo artist in the history of Country Aircheck/Mediabase
to top the chart with his first SIX singles.
The hit singer/songwriter, who Rolling Stone declared is “clearly ready to move on to significance,” kicked off the national launch of his sophomore album You Should Be Here with performances on Good Morning America and TODAY, and the history-making first-ever live radio and TV event from the 57th floor terrace of 4 World Trade Center, broadcast on Fox & Friends. “Middle of a Memory,” his 6th consecutive No. 1 single off the album, debuted on Jimmy Kimmel Live! when it was released, shortly after becoming the No. 1 most added song that week.
The Georgia native was just awarded his second CMA “Triple Award Award” for penning three No. 1 songs within the last 12 months (“Ain’t Worth The Whiskey,” “Let Me See Ya Girl,” “You Should Be Here”). In 2016, he was named the 2016 NSAI Songwriter/Artist of the Year and was nominated as a 2016 CMA New Artist of the Year. In 2015 the No. 1 hit-maker won the ACM New Artist of the Year, was named to Billboard’s Top New Country Artists, and was awarded his first CMA “Triple Play Award”-the only performer to claim the title in 2015. That same year, Cole was nominated for CMA Awards' “New Artist of the Year” and named Music Row’s Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year, with celebrated songwriting credits which include not only his own five No. 1 hits but “This Is How We Roll” by Florida Georgia Line, “Get Me Some of That” by Thomas Rhett, and several songs with Luke Bryan such as his No. 1 single “Roller Coaster,” among others.
In 2016 he toured with Florida Georgia Line’s “Dig Your Roots Tour” and headlined his own sold-out CMT ON TOUR Presents the COLE SWINDELL DOWN HOME TOUR. The Down Home Tour coincided with the release of his third EP, Down Home Sessions III. Swindell is currently on tour with Dierks Bentley’s “What The Hell World Tour.” To date, Swindell has sold over 1.7 million total album equivalents in the three years since his debut, including 5.4 million+ tracks sold and over 520 million on-demand streams.
Swindell just released his 7th career single “Flatliner” which features his mentor/friend and 2017 tour mate,
For more information and tour dates, please visit www.coleswindell.com
Jon Pardi —http://www.jonpardi.com/
The City of Lethbridge ENMAX Centre was built as a lasting legacy of the 1975 Canada Winter Games.