Dierks Bentley is one of the biggest names in country music, and he will be showing all he's got by performing Wednesday night at the CMT Music Awards. Bentley has also graced the Grammys stage and told CMT that performing at an awards show isn't always as easy as touring.
"That's always the hard thing — to take what you do on the road and then apply it to an awards show," he said. "On the road, you're out there, and you do the same thing every night. And it kind of gets you prepped to go, and you're out singing for an hour and a half. Here, you have three minutes and 40 seconds to get in that same spot."
Bentley is a performer, but he is so much more.
1. He is a Jersey Boy — sort of. Although he was raised in Phoenix, Arizona, his parents shipped him off to boarding school in New Jersey when he was a teen. He credits the move for his love of country music.
"If I hadn't gone [to boarding school], I would never have discovered country music," he told the Press of Atlantic City back in 2011. "I made some great friends — and had a love of Jersey girls — but country reminded me of home and Arizona."
2. He is a pilot and owns his own plane. According to CountryWeekly, Bentley holds a private pilot's license and owns a custom Cirrus SR22T Xi.
3. Bentley and his bandmates have some traditions while on tour.
"We try to keep the same traditions — a few red Solo cups and some music and a preshow huddle and a prayer — and go out there and try to hit it like it's the middle of the show," he told CMT. "Not like it's our first song, but with our guns blazing, and try to get all the energy we can and make it as fun for those fans as possible.
"Long story short — tequila."
4. He is a family man. Bentley's grandfather was a first lieutenant in World War II, and his name Dierks (which is actually his middle name) is his maternal great-grandmother's surname. Bentley also has three children with his wife Cassidy.
5. He is a frat boy. Bentley attended the University of Vermont, where he was initiated into Sigma Alpha Epsilon. After a year, he transferred to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where he graduated in 1997.
6. His new album Riser was written following his father's death. The lead track, "I'm A Riser," is a song about "resilience and determination."
"Life in general has a way of knocking you down," Bentley said on his website. "It's different reasons for different folks — could be personal reasons, could be family reasons, your job, drugs, alcohol. That song really applies to anybody that's lived. There have always been those moments when we have to get back up and get on our feet. They are defining moments — breakthrough moments."
Bentley's father died in 2012.
7. He has 10 career No. 1 songs as a singer and songwriter. His first five albums have sold more than 5 million copies and gained 11 Grammy nominations.
8. He married in secret. In December 2005, Bentley eloped with his longtime girlfriend Cassidy. The country star told CMT his mom was sad she wasn't invited, but she got over it.
9. He is nominated for a CMT Award for Performance of the Year for his collaboration of "Counting Stars" with rock band OneRepublic.
"That, in itself, was one of the coolest things in my career for me personally," Bentley said, speaking of crossing genres. "I just loved that."
10. He loves a good tailgate. Bentley admits he regularly heads out in the parking lot before his shows to see who is tailgating.
"Man, the parking lot scene — as a country fan, that's kind of what you go there for," Bentley told the Today Show. "Tailgating, getting out there, seeing your friends, hangin' out. It's what everyone does on the weekend. And so we get a chance to be the show, the entertainment.
"I love taking my little Jeep and driving out into the parking lot to see what (fans) are doing," he added. "They're having a lot more fun (out there) than we are."
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