Dierks Bentley has paid his dues, and now, he's an entertaining headliner.
Dierks Bentley headlined the 93Q Houston "A Day In The Country Festival" on Saturday night in The Woodlands, Texas.
Bentley is a refreshing superstar for the genre, and he proved it during a nearly 2-hour show at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.
These days, you see a lot of country artists trying to "out-country" others by talking about how rural they grew up or how much they enjoyed fishing, hunting, etc.
Bentley grew up in Arizona and graduated from a prestigious boarding school in New Jersey, and even more prestigious Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He loves playing hockey and even spent a year at the University of Vermont, where Boston Bruins goalkeeper Tim Thomas was one of his teammates.
So, he didn't take the rural route to country music, but he did pay his dues.
And he does a better job than perhaps anyone, besides Zac Brown Band, of melting traditional elements of country music such as banjos and fiddles with modern, contemporary sounds.
While Texas Music fans are often anti-Nashville, Bentley is among the rare artists that they respect, thanks to his support of Cross Canadian Ragweed and other Red Dirt artists.
He also has a strong following in Canada, where his opening act Chad Brownlee is a former hockey player-turned country singer.
It's refreshing to have an artist who puts the emphasis on great music, instead of telling us how country he is.
Ronnie Dunn opened for Bentley and did a good job of mixing his new tunes, with his Brooks & Dunn songs.
Jana Kramer is one of the top newcomers to country music. It sure doesn't sound like she's from Michigan when she belts out a tune. "King of Apology" is one of her best songs.
Wade Bowen may be the next artist to make the leap from the Texas Music scene to mainstream country. But the Waco native certainly hasn't forgotten his roots, playing songs from early in his career, along with the new album, "The Given."
Dustin Lynch has the right look and a classic sound that gives him a chance for sustained success in country music. It's tough to think of a better country song than "Cowboys and Angels."
Chris Cagle, who grew up near Houston in Baytown, Texas, got very emotional on stage in thanking his fans for supporting him throughout his career. His acoustic set on Saturday was impressive.