Crowd Dresses Up for Dierks Bentley’s “Drunk on a Plane” Party

Raucous Event Toasts Songwriters Bentley, Chris Tompkins, Josh Kear

What with all the pilot caps, fake mustaches and sunglasses, it looked like a casting call for an ambitious porn movie — perhaps something on the order of Report to the Cockpit or Air Orgy.

But the costumed crowd gathered Wednesday evening (Sept. 24) at the Sutler bar in Nashville was actually there to toast the writers of Dierks Bentley’s latest No. 1 single, “Drunk on a Plane” — Chris Tompkins, Josh Kear and Bentley himself.

Guests arriving at the door were offered the costume props, which were inspired by characters in the “Drunk on a Plane” music video, and many donned them with obvious delight.

The aeronautical theme continued at the bar, where the drinks menu, conveniently placed at each seat, suggested such mood-elevating libations as the tequila-based “Prepare for Takeoff” and “Mile High Margarita” and the bourbon-centered “Landing Strip.”

Those who failed to notice the frisky innuendos of the drink names also probably missed the one posed by the menu’s title: “Captain Holden Mike (silent k) Johnson’s Signature Cocktails.”

The event was sponsored by ASCAP, the performance rights organization to which all three songwriters belong.

ASCAP’s Mike Sistad, who hosted the event, announced that the formal ceremony would be brief with all the awards to be handed out later instead of onstage.

With Bentley and Tompkins standing beside him (Kear was on an international jaunt with his family), Sistad told the crowd that “Drunk on a Plane” has now been certified platinum (for a million sales), that it is the second consecutive No. 1 from Bentley’s current album Riser and that it is Bentley’s 12th No. 1 as an artist-songwriter.

Sistad said that the “Drunk” music video was featured on the Funny or Die comedy website and had received the most votes of any such video to appear there.

Moreover, Sistad continued, the video is up for a CMA music video of year award. (The song is in the running for single of the year.)

For Tompkins, Sistad noted, it is the 13th No. 1 and the ninth for Kear.

Tompkins now has two other entries on Billboard’s country songs charts, Sistad pointed out — Florida Georgia Line’s “Dirt” and Jason Aldean’s “Burnin’ It Down.”

Tompkins said he had long admired Bentley as an artist and songwriter and added, “I’ve been waiting to be a part of something like this with you for a long, long time.”

Downplaying his own importance in writing the song, Bentley said he had brought in “a terrible idea” to the songwriting session that produced the hit.

He said songwriters have a “code word for a shitty idea.” The word is “interesting.” So when he suggested to his co-writers a storm-themed song called “Hurricane You,” they thought about it and pronounced it “interesting.”

He said it was Kear who came up with the phrase and concept of drunk on a plane.

That sounded like a winner to him, Bentley recalled. “I’m a pilot and I like drinking.”

He credited Tompkins with the line, “I feel like a plastic groom alone there at the top of the cake.”

“Who thinks of things like that?” he asked in a tone of wonder.

It must be noted here, for the sake of history, that this party about flying high (in every sense of the word) was held in the Sutler’s basement bar.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.