Singer-songwriter Dierks Bentley came to Nashville as a Vanderbilt student and soon found himself immersed in the city’s street-level music scene. Today, he plays to sold-out arena crowds, but his heart remains at the Station Inn, the funky Nashville club where he cut his teeth and learned about bluegrass music.
Peter Cooper on Episode 1: Dierks Bentley
The passing of time is something that should not surprise or amaze. Time is absolute and regulated, and when the band Chicago sings “Does anybody really know what time it is . . . Does anybody really care?” then I think most of us would answer in the affirmative: We know what time it is, even if we sometimes lazily ask Alexa rather than looking at the clock, and we care what time it is. It never hurts to be early, and it rarely helps to be late. That said, I’m surprised and amazed at how much time has passed since I first met Dierks Bentley. When I met him, we were both young guys. Today, sixteen years later, I’m an old guy and he’s still a young guy. Not sure how that works . . . Perhaps diet, exercise, and outlook are not just happy-making myths. But from the time we met, as he was releasing his debut album on Capitol Records, I was aware that he was a highly intelligent, passionately committed person whose heroes included bluegrass heroes not commonly or sufficiently appreciated by most contemporary country stars: He had a soft spot for folks like Jimmy Martin, Harley Allen, and Ralph Stanley, at the same time that he yearned for the kind of career that would take him to huge stages and international fame. More than anyone else I’ve met, Dierks is equally comfortable answering awards-show red carpet questions (“Who are you wearing?”) or music nerd questions (“What’s your favorite part of Del McCoury’s version of Robert Cray’s ‘Smoking Gun’ song?”). Even as an acknowledged modern kingpin, he remains an eternal student. He has great respect for barroom troubadours and chart-topping radio favorites, and he has a smiling ease around millionaires and hundredaires. I like the guy, for lots of reasons. I think you’ll like him, too, and you may learn something about great country music from the names he mentions and the stories he tells. I can’t remember how long Dierks and I talked for Voices in the Hall, but does anybody really care about time?
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