OFFSTAGE: How Dierks Bentley Gets His Big Sound, Even Unplugged

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

You know how I know Dierks Bentley loves bluegrass music? Because about a year ago, at a show in Las Vegas, he did a little stripped-down take on Billy Idol’s 1983 punk sensation,”Rebel Yell.” He admitted that night his sister had insisted he stop listening to so much country music, but he’d always wonder, “How would that sound with some banjo?'”

So now, there’s this — a performance on CMT Unplugged: Dierks Bentley Presented by State Farm where he devotes himself to this six-guys-around-a-single-microphone idea. It was taped before a small audience at CMT’s studio in Nashville. Bentley and his crew of bluegrass instrumentalists do the current hits, like “5-1-5-0” and “Home,” along with his truest bluegrass tune “Up on the Ridge.” He even throws in a little Adele, covering her “Set Fire to the Rain.” (He was probably wondering, “How would that sound with some banjo?”)

But what makes the whole five-song set full of what Bentley calls the “big sound” is his new custom-built Dierks Bentley model Martin D-28 acoustic guitar . It is all Dierksed out — with a thin red, white and blue ribbon around the body, a phoenix on the 12th fret and his lucky No. 7 on the back of the neck. “I’m looking forward to putting some scratches, dent s and dings on it,” Bentley says.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.