Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley Look Back in Las Vegas

Their Friendship on the Road Led to Hosting the ACM Awards

LAS VEGAS — Ever wonder how Dierks Bentley got to know his Academy of Country Music Awards co-host Luke Bryan? Well, he told me his memories are pretty foggy of the stages they shared from 2006 to 2008.

“I just don’t even remember those years,” Bentley laughed. “I can jog my memories of a few things, but J├Ągermeister and Red Bull make it hard,” Bentley laughed.

“Cold beer amnesia” is what Bryan called it.

“But I do know that we had fun back in those days. We did one show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and Luke opened for me,” Bentley recalled. “His bus was parked a little further down. He had to walk through some mud to get there.

“He kept the stage tight, but I remember thinking, ‘This is the last time he’ll ever open for me.’ That’s the memory I like to hold on to — the one where he was opening for me.”

During a Friday morning (April 1) press conference backstage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Bryan and Bentley answered questions about their past, their ACM Awards prep and the rest of the weekend in Las Vegas.

“Dierks gets the job done,” Bryan told me about the chemistry with his new co-host since Blake Shelton opted out. “Late in the day the other day, someone gave us a Fireball Whisky shot, and we were buzzing. So I spent an hour where I did not answer any questions really serious.”

“And I said, ‘Dierks, imagine three years of that with Blake. Blake never answered a question seriously. Maybe one out of 20 he’d answer seriously,'” Bryan said.

But with Bentley, the vibe is somewhat similar. Because, Bryan said, “At the core of it, (Dierks) is here to represent country music to the best of his ability, and Blake did that, too.”

Bryan’s advice to Bentley is that there is no monologue.

“You just go backstage and have like six drinks, then go,” Bentley joked.

And since Bryan is such a seasoned pro at this hosting gig, he’s learned something about Vegas. The nightlife is tempting, but he’s decided to heed his own advice.

“I’ve learned to go my ass to bed,” he admitted.

But since his dad is out here with him this year, he does look forward to hanging with him and playing a little blackjack after the show.

Check out CMT.com’s additional coverage of the ACM Awards.

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