This summer, country singer Dierks Bentley had his 10th No. 1 hit with the footstomper “5-1-5-0,” which has helped keep the crowds rockin’ on his Country & Cold Cans Tour. Inspired by their, let’s call it enthusiasm, and the desire to give college students new music for their end-of-summer parties and fall football tailgates, he paid for studio time himself to record some new tunes. The result is his Country & Cold Cans EP, which includes four new songs — the title track, “Grab a Beer,” “Back Porch,” and “Summer on Fire” — and the radio edit of his similarly suds-soaked current single, “Tip it on Back,” from his album Home. “I think the fans will dig the sound. It’s a little grittier, a little different,” Bentley says. “There’s some hand clips, some beatin’ on things. It’s just fun for me to get a chance to do something different every now and then.”
Listen to our exclusive stream of “Back Porch” below. (Think of it as Little Big Town’s “Pontoon” for people who don’t live near a lake). Then, we asked Bentley to name five of his craziest summer memories. Lucky for us, he documented most of them — including an awesome band vs. crew Braveheart reenactment — in his web series, DBTV. Country & Cold Cans will be released Aug. 21 on iTunes.
Five of Dierks’ craziest summer memories:
• Singin’ in the rain at July’s Jefferson, Wisc., show: “It started raining toward the end of the show, and when we went into ‘Home,’ there was just a downpour. I’ve never stood in rain like that, let alone played a show in rain like that. I couldn’t even keep my eyes open because it was hitting me so hard in the face. What are we gonna do? There’s no lightning, so it’s not dangerous to the fans. It’d been so hot during the day, now everyone’s getting soaking wet, and they’re kinda going crazy. As a fan, I’ve been to shows like that where it starts raining and you think it’s gonna ruin the show, but it ends up making the show that much better. At first it’s a nuisance, and then it’s like, ‘Screw it, we’re gonna just go crazy,'” Bentley says. “The song ‘Home’ is so powerful because of the message behind it, and the place went nuts. We got done, and our steel player’s gear was fried. Our drummer, every time he hits the drum the water goes flying everywhere. But the crowd’s still going crazy, and I hadn’t played ‘What Was I Thinkin” yet. I just looked at the guys in the band, and I’m like, ‘We have to try to play another song, even though it’s physically not possible because nothing’s working.’ But we did. We played ‘What Was I Thinkin” with whatever instruments we had left, and the place just went bonkers. That’s definitely the craziest show of the tour.”
• June’s B-93 Birthday Bash in Martin, Mich.: “That’s when I realized the new summer attire for country girls is bikinis and boots. Everyone was wearing bikinis and boots,” he says. “At this particular festival, they have a walkway right below the stage. So there’s like 20,000 people at this thing, but you can wait in this line, and then you walk right by the front of the stage and wave, or hand me a beer, or just show off your outfit or whatever. It’s really hilarious. The whole show, you’re trying to perform but there’s this steady stream of bikinis and boots. It’s like, wow, my daughter is never going to a concert. It was wild. It was definitely 5-1-5-0.”
• June’s Braveheart reenactment in Eufaula Cove, Okla.: “We had a full-on reenactment of the battle scene in the field before the fans came out. It was pretty strong. I got a lot of calls from folks in Hollywood after they saw my acting performance. I guess it was the stupidest thing we’ve done all summer,” he says. Spoiler alert! “We all get taken out in the end by this one little kid. We had to keep our eyes closed, pretending we were dead, and he’s walking around whacking us in the most uncomfortable spots with his fake sword. It’s like an episode of Jackass. You just have to sit there and take the whack to the groin. It’s definitely the dumbest thing I’ve ever put on tape.” Dumbest or best?
• April’s Record Store Day show in Seattle with special guest Mike McCready of Pearl Jam: “It’s a record store, a tiny little stage, and I remember bringing him out and just seeing people’s eyes, like, totally confused. Huh? Wait? What? I’m blowing circuits here. Why are you guys on stage together?,” Bentley says. “We did the Rolling Stones song ‘Dead Flowers’ and ‘Just Breathe,’ which is my favorite Pearl Jam song. We had banjo and fiddle accompanying us. It was really cool.” (Bentley likes to surprise audiences. See also: the Foo Fighters’ guitarist Chris Shiflett and Garrett Hedlund joining him onstage in L.A. to launch the Country & Cold Cans Tour in April, and his favorite guest, his daughter Evie, dueting with him at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium back in February when he released Home.
• The craziest travel day of his year, possibly his life, in July: He had to fly roughly 2,000 miles between gigs on Canada’s Prince Edward Island and in St. Louis.”That does not route very well,” he says. “We didn’t get back from the venue until like 1:30 a.m., and then we had to be at the airport at 4 a.m. for our flight to Toronto, go through customs with all our gear, layover, land in St. Louis. It’s just a long, long day. We got down there, and I had about two hours of sleep, but these fans had been out there all day long in, like, record heat. That night, we’re playing an outdoor show underneath the Arch, and a huge lightning storm kicked off like three songs into the show. We did everything we possibly could to get back out there and play in the rain again, but it’s the only show of my entire career that I wasn’t able to get back onstage because the weather was so bad. This summer, people praying for rain should just hire us to come play a show, because it’s been following us around.”