GRA­HAM ROCKINGHAM

Fans should ar­rive early if they want to see his ’90s cover band Hot Coun­try Knights

The Hamilton Spectator - - Front Page - GRA­HAM ROCKINGHAM

Dierks Bent­ley kicks off his new tour in Hamil­ton

There’s some­thing about the kick­off con­cert of an ex­tended tour, an air of an­tic­i­pa­tion — the band prob­a­bly has a few new tricks to try out, per­haps some new songs, and not all the bugs have nec­es­sar­ily been ironed out.

You get the feel­ing any­thing might hap­pen.

So it was for Amer­i­can coun­try star Dierks Bent­ley when he kicked off his “Moun­tain” tour last May in Mary­land.

Bent­ley was try­ing out a new stage rig for his megahit “Drunk on a Plane,” when the un­ex­pected oc­curred cour­tesy of a way­ward beach ball.

“I was fly­ing through the air for ‘Drunk on a Plane’ pre­tend­ing I was a pilot and lift­ing off the ground on top of a light­ing truss,” Bent­ley re­calls in a phone in­ter­view from his home in Nashville.

“Then some­one threw a beach ball up on stage, hit the space bar on the mo­tors and shut the whole thing down. All of a sud­den my plane got stuck half way up. Luck­ily they were able to put it in emer­gency mode and lower me back down.”

Bent­ley is con­fi­dent, his show will be glitch-free on Jan. 17 when he kicks off his three-month North Amer­i­can “Burn­ing Man” tour at Hamil­ton’s FirstOn­tario Cen­tre.

“Burn­ing Man,” named after the open­ing song on his al­bum “Moun­tain,” is an ex­tended ver­sion of his 2018 tour.

“I’m just tweak­ing the show,” Bent­ley says. “There’s some added con­tent. I’ve changed the set list up a lit­tle, adding some new songs and new com­po­nents which makes it ex­cit­ing for us.”

One of the key changes to the tour, will be the of­fi­cial ad­di­tion of open­ing act Hot Coun­try Knights, a band led by front­man Dou­glas “Big Rhythm Doug” Dou­glason that spe­cial­izes in covering coun­try hits from the ‘90s.

The band may sound more than a lit­tle goofy, but it’s an act Dierks Bent­ley fans won’t want to miss. Big Rhythm Doug is, in fact, Bent­ley’s al­ter ego. He may look kind of dif­fer­ent un­der a mul­let wig.

“It should be il­le­gal it’s so much fun,” Bent­ley, 42, says about Hot Coun­try Knights. “All coun­try fans love that coun­try mu­sic from the ‘90s. We come off­stage dy­ing with laugh­ter.”

Also join­ing Bent­ley on the Cana­dian por­tion of the tour are Amer­i­can coun­try singer Jon Pardi, a fa­mil­iar face to Bent­ley fans, and Al­berta rising star Te­nille Townes, who is get­ting a lot of

airplay for her song “Some­body’s Daugh­ter.”

De­spite be­ing born in Ari­zona and liv­ing in Nashville, Bent­ley is no stranger to Hamil­ton, hav­ing per­formed here sev­eral times both as a head­liner and an open­ing act.

Bent­ley is a big hockey fan, fol­low­ing both the Phoenix Coy­otes and the Nashville Preda­tors. Through the years, he’s also fol­lowed the Hamil­ton Bull­dogs and has skated with them at prac­tice be­fore con­certs at FirstOn­tario Cen­tre. He’s par­tic­u­larly pleased that for­mer Bull­dog P.K. Sub­ban is now playing for his Preda­tors.

“Thanks for loan­ing P.K. to us, we re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it,” Bent­ley laughs.

Bent­ley of­ten tours with his hockey gear, hop­ing to get ice time be­fore a con­cert. This time, how­ever, he ap­pears to have traded in his skates for a broom. Bent­ley and his band has dis­cov­ered Canada’s other winter pas­time — curl­ing.

“We love curl­ing,” he says. “We al­ways take one day, band and crew, for curl­ing. We have tuques, we have sweaters, we have a tro­phy. It’s the Dude Curl­ing Cham­pi­onship, the DCC. That’s go­ing to take place in ei­ther Cal­gary or Van­cou­ver where we have two days off.”

UNI­VER­SAL CANADA

Amer­i­can coun­try mu­sic star Dierks Bent­ley per­forms at FirstOn­tario Cen­tre on Jan. 17.

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