Before a recent Opry appearance, we took a few minutes to speak to Dierks Bentley about his new album, playing the Ryman and his love of Bluegrass. Dierks plays the last full stand-alone concert on the current Ryman stage this Thursday, February 2 before renovation begins February 4 (read more about the stage replacement here.)
Playing at the Ryman never gets old, does it?
Dierks: No, it never does. It never gets old looking around the hallways at all of this great memorabilia on the walls. It’s a living, breathing museum – it’s unbelievable.
You started playing at the Honky Tonks, paying your dues, and now you’re standing here in the Ryman. What was that first time like for you?
Dierks: Oh man, I mean just amazing, unbelievable. I used to play the bars down there at night. Around two o’clock in the morning, I’d be walking back to my car and I’d run my fingers along the wall of the Ryman and dream of one day getting a chance to perform on the stage. Now I’ve had several chances through the Opry and through our own live shows here. It’s just the coolest stage to stand on. It really is my favorite room of any building I’ve played in the whole country.
Tell us about some of your favorite shows that stand out or moments you’ve experienced in the pews.
Dierks: Oh sure! Well last night I was here watching Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, so that is my most recent memory and it was just great. With my wife, one of the first shows we went to in this building was the Opry. I remember Martina McBride was playing that night, and it was really cool to take my wife to that show. I’ve seen some great music in this building. And of course get a chance to be part of the Opry and play here this time of the year is incredible.
When Coldplay played here in 2003, Chris Martin actually stopped the show and said something along the lines of “Not to sound arrogant, but I’ve never sounded this good.” I heard you were here that night…
Dierks: Yeah I was here that night. I’ve seen so many shows, from the loud rock bands to folk bands, and the room sounds good no matter who’s playing. There’s a great sound to it. It’s one of the greatest places to sit as a fan and watch a show. And for me, to be onstage tonight, it’s the best view of any show I get to play every year.
Your new single is called “Home” and the Ryman is the home of country music, does this feel like “home” to you?
Dierks: Well I was thinking the same thing about this being the home of country music, the Mother Church of Country Music. Playing this song onstage for the first time is going to be a pretty powerful song. This song talks about a lot of things. It talks a little bit about the troops and the military. We have a lot of guys that are coming home from Iraq right now, so it’s just a special time of year. To sing this song onstage tonight should be pretty memorable for me and all the guys in the band.
You’ve got a special concert performance coming up Thursday, February 2 to celebrate the release of your new record, “Home”. (The record will be available in stores and on iTunes on February 7.)
Dierks: I’m really proud of the record. I put in over a year’s worth of writing and recording into the record. It’s been the longest I’ve spent on a record, but I really wanted it right after “Up on the Ridge”, which was such a different record for me. That was one of the most important records of my career. I feel like this record coming out after that needed to have the same attention to it. We put all we had into it, and I just can’t wait for our fans to hear it.
Now you mentioned your last record, “Up on the Ridge”, which obviously had bluegrass ties. You know bluegrass really started here. There’s a lot of history here with Del McCoury and you came out to help celebrate Bill Monroe’s 100th birthday with a special concert in our parking lot last year.
Dierks: Yeah! Del played out there in the street not too long ago. I got a chance to get up and sing with him in the parking lot facing back towards the building. It was incredible just to get the chance to do that. Every chance I get to play around this venue, any genre of music – especially the acoustic stuff, it’s always pretty cool.
Your concert on Thursday will be the last stand-alone concert on the current stage. How does that make you feel?
Dierks: My “Home” album release show will have even more meaning to it now…the significance of that stage and who played there before me will definitely be in the back of my head all night. As a member of the Grand Ole Opry, I couldn’t be any prouder.
Dierks Bentley plays the Ryman Thursday, February 2 with Will Hoge opening. Tickets are available by clicking here.