Country music star Dierks Bentley talks Gravel & Gold Tour, Orange Beach, Tom Petty tribute, Taylor Swift and more

Posted 6/14/24

Multi-platinum country music star Dierks Bentley is bringing his Gravel & Gold Tour to The Wharf Amphitheater in Orange Beach on Friday, June 28, a more than welcome stop for the 15-time …

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Country music star Dierks Bentley talks Gravel & Gold Tour, Orange Beach, Tom Petty tribute, Taylor Swift and more


Multi-platinum country music star Dierks Bentley is bringing his Gravel & Gold Tour to The Wharf Amphitheater in Orange Beach on Friday, June 28 -- a more than welcome stop for the 15-time Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter.

Bentley is no stranger to the Gulf Coast nor its more popular destinations.

"In my pre-touring days, I used to come down there and get after it a little bit," Bentley jokingly exhaled. "Flora-Bama and whatnot. I just love that part of the county. I love going to the beach down there. I don't get to do it like I used to, but I know from playing there and the people who come to the shows, you can tell where you are because they're in a great mood. You're at the Gulf and people are always just in that party mode, on feel-good standard time. I love being down there and playing that venue. I still remember the first time I played [at The Wharf], and it's just an incredible place to be."

The three-time CMA Awards winner said his excitement leading into these concerts has only continued to intensify over the last 20 years, each event somehow becoming more enjoyable than the last. Now over two decades, 10 studio albums and 21 No. 1 songs later in his unique genre-blending career, Bentley prides himself on the way he chose to organically connect with a fan base that has now streamed his music more than 8 billion times.

"I built fans one beer at a time," Bentley said. "I used to do all these shows in small places, clubs, county fairs, state fairs, and I'd sign autographs after the show longer than I'd actually play for. I'd play for an hour and a half, then I'd go to the merch table — whether you bought something or not — taking pictures and signing something for three hours each night. One handshake at a time; one beer at a time. That's how you build long-time fans.

"I love what I do. I love the fans. I love their smiles. I love their applause. As a fan myself that goes to a lot of concerts, I know what a pain in the ass it is to go to a show with parking, drinks, beer, everything costs $1,000. I look out there with so much appreciation that people show up, and I take my job really seriously. My job is to try to make this the most fun night of the summer."

In a tribute to the late rock and roll icon, Bentley's latest release, "American Girl," is featured on "Petty Country: A Country Music Celebration of Tom Petty," the star-studded project including George Strait, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Luke Combs and Lainey Wilson, among others. When Big Machine Records reached out to have Bentley involved, the 48-year-old was in shock that this Petty classic was still available.

"No one had picked ('American Girl') yet," Bentley laughed, seemingly still in disbelief. "I was surprised because this is a pretty good roster of people. I was really happy to get that song and try to give my own take, as far as adding some banjos, fiddles and mandolins to the overall sound. Keeping that big sound, but trying to make it a little more me. I'm really happy with the way that turned out."

His most recent No. 1 song, "Gold," the lead single from his tenth album, entitled "Gravel & Gold" (2023), was released in July 2022, serving as the catalyst to Bentley's first run back on the road since the Beers on Me Tour (2021). Bentley has headlined 16 different tours in just an 18-year span, in addition to co-headlining with Miranda Lambert in 2013 and supporting on other tours with both Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley, ultimately encapsulating the meaning of his "it might be gravel, but it feels like gold" line.

"Gold being the show, the fans, that moment up there on stage," Bentley said, referring to this "Gold" excerpt. "There's a lot of gravel throughout the day. You're just kind of waiting around and waiting around for that moment when everything happens, and that's what it's all about."

For Bentley, everything started happening back in 2003 when his self-titled debut album catapulted hit single "What Was I Thinkin'" to No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. Many voices came and went in the decades that followed, yet Bentley still manages to keep climbing the charts and captivating audiences in a timeless manner.

Above all else is creating good music, but when Gulf Coast Media asked if there were any hidden secrets to his longevity in the industry, Bentley pointed to the power of authentic songwriting, to him most evident in one of country and pop's most popular figures of all time.

"On the larger scale, you see this with Taylor Swift," Bentley said. "No one writes more personally than she does. I think it's about trying to write songs and make albums for yourself. Not trying to chase something. Not trying to be somebody else. Just writing songs and hoping your fans can relate to them. That's the key and what I've always tried to do, write songs that matter to me and mean something to me, then hope that I find an audience that can relate. I know as a fan myself, I want to hear somebody say something unique to them that I can relate to. I don't want to hear someone make a song or album they think I'm going to like."

Bentley's Friday, June 28, show at The Wharf will start at 7 p.m. and feature special guests Chase Rice and Tyler Braden as a part of the 2024 C-Spire Concert Series.

"I'm glad to come back down there and get to do it again," Bentley left as a message to his Gulf Coast fans. "You never know when it might be your last, so I'm excited to be there."