On Oct. 1, 2005, Dierks Bentley was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
And what’s changed since? Well, everything.
I had a chance to ask Bentley about the past decade before he took the Opry stage on Tuesday (Sept. 29) night to celebrate his anniversary, and this is what he had to say.
“It’s been a crazy ten years. I’m definitely still the same person I’ve always been,” he told me, “but definitely not the same artist. I continue to try to expand who I am through my songwriting and my life experiences, and get those into songs and onto records.”
That makes sense when you consider all the life experiences he’s had since that night ten years ago: He married his wife Cassidy, had two daughters and a son (Evie, Jordan and Knox), and he lost his father.
“Ten years ago, when I was here at the Opry, I was still single and I didn’t have any kids. So being married and having three kids,” Bentley said, “that trumps everything.”
And musically, Bentley’s sound has evolved, even though his unmistakable voice has never, ever varied. He has released 20 singles since 2005, with everything from achy heartbreak ballads to bluegrass tunes to what his mom calls “toe tappers.”
His 30-minute Opry set on Tuesday included so many of those songs, like “What Was I Thinkin’,” “Settle for a Slowdown,” “Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go),” “Home,” “Riser,” and “Rovin’ Gambler,” when bluegrass duo Dailey and Vincent joined him on stage. (His dog Jake also joined him on stage, but didn’t sing.)
“Musically, ten years later from that peak, I feel like I’ve actually hit a new, better, more authentic true peak of who I am as an artist and a songwriter,” Bentley said. “And the records I’m making now — I’m a slow learner — but I feel like I’m making my best music right now.”