Eugene Weekly : Music : 7.3.08

Hot Country Boy
Bentley at the Cuthbert
by Vanessa Salvia

As I was preparing to preview Dierks Bentley’s appearance at the Cuthbert Amphitheater, I discovered that — at least among certain guys I’m acquainted with — he’s known to have a disproportionately large number of hot female fans. My sources gave no explanation for this phenomenon, but they implied they didn’t mind. Some even indicated that they would likely attend Bentley’s concert even though they weren’t inordinately fond of his music, just to browse, as it were.

I surmise that Bentley’s large female fan base must be drawn to his dreamy blue eyes, tousled mop of light brown curls and the perfectly groomed stubble that he probably pays someone $100 a day to keep in shape (because it doesn’t naturally grow that way on any guy I know). I’m imagining that if you like country music and are female you probably already know how dreamy he is, and if you like country music and are male you probably already have an opinion on whether you like him or not. 

But just in case, Bentley is a country superstar from the fabled land of Nashville. He’s had 10 top ten singles, including five number one hits, and all three of his albums have gone platinum. Now, just five years into his career, he’s releasing his first greatest hits collection, with the disc’s content, title and design chosen entirely by the vote of his fans.

Clearly he’s done something right, and his fans love the fact that Bentley knows his country music history (having taken a degree in the subject). He loves bluegrass equally, so his music is attractive to both old school fans and new-country rockers. Bentley is now the youngest active member of the Grand Ole Opry and played for a new generation of 90,000 indie rockers at the famed Bonnaroo music festival in 2007.

Maybe it’s his anti-establishment attitude that can partly describe his success; after all, Columbia Records allowed him to record a purely bluegrass track for his debut album, something most new-country stars wouldn’t even consider, and stations played him anyway. Or maybe his success rests on the fact that he doesn’t hide his influences, paying homage to Hank Williams Jr. as his primary inspiration and to Waylon Jennings’ signature guitar on his hit “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do.”

Whatever it is that makes Dierks Bentley a hit, his fans have discovered there’s a lot to like.     

Dierks Bentley, Lana Kress. 7 pm, Wednesday, July 9, Cuthbert Amphitheater. $45 reserved seating,  $33 general admission.