‘I’m not Gretzky, but I?do my best,’ Opry inductee says
Jim Wright photo
Dierks Bentley enjoyed our nation’s favourite pastime during the Canadian leg of his tour, Locked And Loaded. Not that he wasn’t a hockey fan before, mind you.
“I caught a Canucks game in Vancouver, and I want to see the Leafs when I get to Toronto,” the Phoenix-born, Nashville-based country music star told Metro Toronto recently. “I joined a men’s league in Nashville after I saw the Predators. I’m not Gretzky, but I do my best.”
Average on ice but proficient in song, Bentley has climbed to the top of the Billboard country charts with No. 1 single Every Mile A Memory, the first from his latest album, Long Trip Alone —?which garnered two Grammy nominations (Best Country Song and Best Male Country Performance). A live concert DVD release is scheduled for March); he won last year’s CMA Horizon Award, and became the youngest member ever inducted into the Grand Ol’ Opry at the tender age of 31. Bentley has gone from honky tonk bar act to one of the genre’s hottest surging talents.
“I’m just the same kid trying to make it,” he says humbly of his recent successes. “I’ve got a long way to go … It’s more than just awards, which you can’t control. I mean, how do you reward art? But the nominations are great because they bring attention to the live shows. And we’re trying to be one of the best live acts going. It’s a lofty goal.”
And for country purists, it very well could be one of the best gigs going if Long Trip Alone is any indication of his live sound. This one has got it all: The drawn-out Dixie drawl, the running banjo, the face-down-in-a-puddle-of-beer-lyrics, the twang of the gee-tar, and respectable nods to the country icons who went before him. He says he’s worked hard (nay, obsessively) to perfect that sound, so much so that he frequently scans critics’ reviews about him to see how his work is being received.
“Some are good, some are bad,” Bentley says. “You see a bad one and you can get bummed out. One writer said I was ‘asleep at the wheel’ at one of my concerts. I respect their views, but we don’t let it bother us.”