Dierks Bentley: “I Was Just Very Into Country”

He Wasn't the Biggest Phish Fan in Vermont

Sure, Dierks Bentley spent a little time at the University of Vermont.

But that doesn’t make him an automatic fan of the jam band Phish, who got their start on the UVM campus in Burlington.

“They were big, man. And don’t get me wrong, it’s great music. It’s awesome. I was just so militant about country music,” Bentley said in a Q&A with AL.com in Alabama.

He recalled that near the campus there was a country bar, J.T.s, and an Irish pub, the Blarney Stone.

“All of my friends would be trying to pick up girls at the Blarney Stone, and I’d be there hanging with the locals over at J.T.’s playing Johnny Cash and Waylon on the jukebox and grab a guitar and sing some songs there,” he said.

It sounds like Bentley’s Phish apathy had more to do with his love of country.

“People love that band, and I get it,” he said. “For me, it just wasn’t my thing. In my 30s, I became more open to music other than country or bluegrass. For many years, once I knew what I wanted to do at 17-years-old, for about a good 15 years if not more, (country) was all I listened to, militantly. I got rid of all of my other CDs. If you got in my truck, you were listening to country music, and that’s the way it was for a long time.

“I’m a little more open to other sources of music now, a lot more. But for the formative years, I was just very into country.”

After a year at UVM, Bentley decided to transfer to Nashville’s Vanderbilt University. Not so much because of the Ivy-League-of-the-South reputation but because of where it was.

“The school was a really just way to buy some time … and figure out how this town works and try to attack it from all sides,” he said.

Clearly, Bentley got an A+ in that.

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