Dierks Bentley's Burning Man Tour on stage Saturday at Alerus Center
Country music star Dierks Bentley is bringing his high-energy show to the Alerus Center on Saturday. The show features music Bentley fans are familiar with, as well as new music from his latest album, "The Mountain."
The multi-platinum singer-songwriter, who has had 18 No. 1 songs in country radio to his credit, will open the show with Hot Country Knights, his "notorious" '90s cover band, and performers Jon Pardi and Tenille Townes.
Bentley's music has been shared on millions of digital streams and drawn countless nominations from Academic of Country Music and Billboard Music awards. He has garnered 13 Grammy nominations, including at least one from each of his last six albums.
Bentley, who kicked off the first leg of his tour in January, co-wrote 10 of 13 tracks on "The Mountain" album, which earned him the highest debut sales of his career and became his seventh chart-topping album.
The tracks range in style from textured rock to acoustic folk, feeling both rooted and expansive at the same time, one reviewer wrote.
Bentley describes the album as a sonic mix of the bluegrass soul, reminiscent of his "Up on the Ridge" album, and the modern-rock polish of his "Black" album.
"For me it's the best of both worlds, and it feels like something new," he said. "It's powerful but also happy, with acoustic sensibility mixed in with the big sounds I like to have for the road."
Bentley's music speaks to the "mountains" people deal with every day, some of which are daunting.
"Anything looks big when you face it in totality," he said. "It's like 'How am I ever going to solve this problem? How am I ever going to get to the top?' But if you take it one step at a time and just keep grinding away, you can do it."
The tune, "Burning Man," is featured on Bentley's latest album, and opens every show on the current tour, he said.
"I love that song. (It has to do with) the push and pull that happens internally as you get a little older, and find yourself kind of dragged between two worlds. And that pretty much describes me pretty well.
"I get to go on the road and act like I'm 17, and shotgun beers with fans and go crazy, and have an amazing road life. And then at home, I have three kids. I love that life too, and I'm learning a lot from them about growth as a man. The song always speaks to me and connects with me on that level."
Although Bentley, 43, calls Arizona home, for about 25 years he and his wife, Cassidy, have lived in Nashville, Tenn., as he's "been climbing this mountain called 'Music Row,' " he said.
He acknowledges that country music has changed over the years. Some claim it's becoming too polished, too smooth and too mass-merchandised, and lacks much of the grittiness associated with artists like Hank Williams.
Bentley said he and many others "love all that music," citing superstars like Williams, Johnny Cash and George Jones.
But, in their time, those artists were pushing the boundaries of country music, he said.
"The problem is, those guys faced the same arguments. Buck Owens was told he was too polished, too pop; Haggard and Cash used trumpets. They were trying to do something different, and putting a new spin on the original concept."
Years later, they've been labeled "traditional."
Today's musicians are doing the same thing, he said. "They're trying to create the best, most compelling music they can."
"The thing about music is, you can consume it in a lot of different forms," he said. "It's a free country; enjoy whatever music you like."
'All about energy'
Audiences who attend Bentley's show can expect it to be "all about energy—100 to 200 percent energy," he said. It opens with Hot Country Knights, an act that sets the tone for a fun evening.
Although reluctant to divulge details about the use of wigs and costumes in the show, Bentley would say only that "the lead singer looks a lot like me; a lot of high jinx happen."
Each of two singers in the band thinks he is the lead singer, he said, so conflict leads to some playful sparring—all for the sake of entertainment.
"A few hits, a lot of bits. We have a lot of fun," he said. "Like I say, we act like we're 13."
Bentley is also pleased to introduce newcomer Tenille Townes to audiences, he said. "She's so great; she's a brand new artist.
"In country music, we had so many great female artists in the '90s, and I feel like we're kind of lacking that on country radio right now."
He hopes to raise awareness for her and, by so doing, help to rectify that situation.
"She has been so great for me," he said. "I feel so lucky that we have Tenille on the road. People love this girl and her voice. Nashville is so excited about her; she's starting to get a lot of radio airplay.
"I feel that people will walk away as fans after they hear her."
On the Burning Man Tour, Bentley and his crew are intent on creating for audiences "this feeling of joy, happiness, and a release of whatever's been bogging you down," he said.
"It'll be a great night, and a lot of fun. It's a lot of fists and drinks in the air kind of show."
If you go
Who: Dierks Bentley
What: 2019 Burning Man Tour
When: 7 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 p.m.)
Where: Alerus Center, 1200 S. 42nd St.
Tickets: $28-$69.75. Available at the Alerus Center box office, online at www.Ticketmaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.