Dierks Bentley and his omnipresent dog Jake strolled into ASCAP’s Nashville headquarters Monday afternoon (Jan. 30) about five minutes past the time Bentley’s press conference was set to start. Both man and dog took their seats at a table in front of a bank of microphones, but the dog soon grew bored and wandered off. The man was not so lucky.
Bentley had come to ASCAP to celebrate his latest No. 1 single, “Come a Little Closer,” which he co-wrote with his producer, Brett Beavers. He used the occasion to reflect on his recent tour of the United Kingdom, next music video and upcoming tour with Kenny Chesney.
Prodded to do so, the newly married singer also held forth on the rigors of properly observing Valentine’s Day. He said he used to hate the holiday since it required such a delicate balancing act between expressing too little and too much affection. “Now, every day’s Valentine’s Day,” he proclaimed.
This Valentine’s Day, he continued, he expects to be in Los Angeles shooting a music video for his single, “Settle for a Slowdown.” “It’s a nice piece to add to the overall show,” he said. “It has a pretty powerful message.”
Bentley was enthusiastic about his 18-day tour of England, Ireland and Scotland, sponsored by the Country Music Association. He noted that audiences there seemed especially attuned to singer-songwriters and tended to listen more attentively than American audiences. “There’s great beer there,” he added. “I went to the Guinness factory and tried some London ale.” He said he hoped to make the tour an annual event.
“Of all the accomplishments of the last year,” Bentley told the reporters, “the biggest thing was getting to go back on the road with Kenny [Chesney].” He said he’s scheduled to do 70 dates with the singer. Speaking of Chesney’s intensity, Bentley observed, “He treats every tour like it’s his senior year in high school.”
Bentley was also excited about his own shows, which will play venues of 3,000 to 5,000 seats and features a new stage and lighting system. He said he plans to film a live DVD this year.
At the party that followed, ASCAP chief Connie Bradley praised “Come a Little Closer” for staying at No. 1 for three weeks on both the Billboard and Radio & Records charts. She reported that Bentley had performed 206 “paid dates” last year and is now the youngest member of the current Grand Ole Opry cast.
“We love having the hardest working man in show business [on our roster],” said Mike Dungan, president of Capitol Records/Nashville, Bentley’s label. He told the crowd he had been deluged by phone calls and e-mails from the UK praising Bentley’s shows there.
Following the ASCAP fest, the celebration moved a block over to the BMI building. (Bentley writes for an ASCAP publisher, Beavers for a BMI one.)
“Come a little closer,” BMI’s Mark Mason said, calling the milling crowd to order. “These guys are on fire.” Mason announced that Beavers was also celebrating his 21st year with BMI. Toasting Beavers for his contributions to his career, Bentley explained, “We both love the same type of country music.”
Dungan noted that Modern Day Drifter, the album that spawned “Come a Little Closer,” has already gone platinum (meaning 1 million copies shipped). “We’ll be double platinum before we’re finished,” he promised.