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With pressure on, Dierks Bentley does it again

By Jeffrey B. Remz, May 2005

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Bentley used to own a house, but was away so much that he ended up selling it.

"It's definitely a sacrifice," Bentley says of life as a musician. "Part of your life (is on hold), but it's out there waiting. I've been waiting out here a long time to get on the road. I want to do it right. It means giving all of your attention to do it right. That's what we're doing right now. Right now, we're just out here concentrating on the music."

"It's a huge opportunity that a lot of people would kill for, me included. I know that I'm sacrificing that aspect of my life. This is exactly what I want to do. I made a couple of records that I'm proud of. I want to get as many people to hear them as possible."

"You can't have your cake and eat it too. You have to be committed if you're going to do that all the way."

As for the Waylon style of the song, "Production wise, I always do a Waylon song each time," he says. "The groove just rocks. I wanted to do something in that same vein." Guitar ace J.T. Corenflos provides the licks.

Unlike the first Capitol album where he didn't agree with the first single picked, this time, he thought "Lot of Leavin'" should be the all-important first single.

But that didn't mean he thought Capitol would go along with it.

"It's pretty tough," he says, alluding to the subject matter. "It's not a song for (top 40) country radio. It's a bad ass song. Thank God, they went for it."

"I did not think they would go for it, but they did," he says of Capitol.

"They know I listen to them, and they listen to me," says Bentley. "I thought I'd have to convince them, but they were cool about it."

Bentley is very serious on the closing song, "Gonna Get There Someday." The musically sad sounding song talks about loss with the listener thinking that he is singing about an old flame. Instead, about two-thirds of the way through, it's clear that the person is visiting his mother's grave, telling her how he his hopeful about bettering himself.

"We have a propensity to write sad stuff as well," says Bentley. "It's just one of those songs. We didn't have it set it up to end that way. It ended up being that way. It's sad, but it's a song about hope hopefully."

The song is laced with a lot of fiddle courtesy of stalwart Aubrey Haynie. The fiddles were tripled up, according to Bentley.

Bentley says he has listened to the title track, written by John Scott Sherrill and Wyatt Easterling for "for three or four years. It didn't impact me the way it did until I was on the road for a year and a half. I listened to that song, and it just had a different meaning to me."

"I thought that song summed up the overall tone of the record maybe and where I am in my life right now focusing on the music. Just a modern day drifter playing town after town."

Bentley once again works with the premier bluegrass group, the Del McCoury Band, on this album with "Good Man Like Me." On his debut, McCoury and Bentley paired for Bentley's "Train Traveling."

Bentley is no stranger to bluegrass, at least not once he moved to Nashville. He hung out at Nashville's main bluegrass club, the Station Inn, on a regular basis, which is where he hooked up with the McCourys.

"That bar has just been very instrumental," says Bentley. "If it wasn't for the Station Inn, I would not have fallen in love with bluegrass music. I rediscovered the joy of playing music just for the sake of playing music."

"I wasn't into bluegrass before I came to Nashville. I thought bluegrass was old people's music or something."

"I fell in love with it," he says.

The Station Inn is an open room with long tables where people are there to listen to the music. Bluegrass musicians show up as well to hang out and play together.

"I first met those guys at the Station Inn," Bentley says. The first of the McCoury crew he met was fiddle player Jason Carter.

"He's one of my best friends. And I worked my well up to Del."

Bentley occasionally has played with the McCourys, such as this past New Year's Eve where he stopped in at the Ryman where the McCourys were playing after Bent-ley opened a gig for Toby Keith at the Gaylord Center a block away.

"I just loved the fact that you fact that you got a lot of guys who love to play music," says Bent-ley of bluegrass. "I love the harmony singing and the instrumentation and the overall generosity that people have in their genre. They love to pick and sing."

Bentley clearly has lighter touches musically.

Revisiting themes seems to be par for the course for Bentley. Last time out, he included the honky tonker "Bartenders, etc." On the new disc, it's "Domestic Light And Cold" where he's feeling a bit down in the dumps and supposedly looking for a brewski.

Bentley concludes the song with a humorous attempted pick up, asking "So you like country music?" and then breaks into fake laughter.

Bentley fends off the natural anticipation about the reception that awaits "Modern Day Drifter."

"I hope it'll be received well," he says. "My livelihood depends on people buying the record. I make records for myself based on what I think, and that's my gauge for whether it's a good record or not. I think it's great. Short term-goals to get the music out there and get it heard and hopefully in four or five years be able to do headlining."

"You can't worry too much about the reviews. You do what you can do, and I know I made a great record, and I know I'm happy with it. I put every ounce of my heart into it. It's kind of out of my hands now."

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