I can think of about 14,000 reasons to go to Dierks Bentley’s upcoming Seven Peaks festival this weekend (Aug. 30-Sept. 1). Namely, the view of the famed 14,000′ Collegiate Peaks — the Fourteeners, as they’re known to mountaineers — that surround the festival’s site nestled in Buena Vista, Colorado.
But, then if you add the 30 or so artists on the line-up, the number of reasons to go just keeps climbing.
So when I had a chance to sit down with Bentley backstage before his Chicago show on Friday night (Aug. 23), he narrowed it down to the seven very best reasons to make the Seven Peaks festival an annual must-see.
1. Bentley is all in.
“My mindset last year and my mindset now is that I want this festival to be around for 20 years. So much so that that I didn’t even drink last year. I wanted to stay so focused on being present. I wanted to be best version of myself, and that’s exactly what I did and will keep doing. Because I don’t want to look back and have any regrets. I don’t want to think, ’I could’ve jumped on more stages, I could’ve visited with more fans, I could’ve surprised more people at the campsites.'”
2. He knows that you are all in, too.
“I want to be respectful of the fans who are using their Labor Day weekend and traveling from all over the country, and they are entrusting us to make it the best fan experience possible.
3. It is hard work, but he is up for that.
“Going into this last year, I knew it would be hard work. You can’t phone it in on something this big, something this important. You’ve gotta put the work in if you want it to be successful. And I am not afraid of hard work.”
4. Bentley admits that this time, it’s personal.
“The whole concept of this festival is very selfish, right? It’s all the things I love: Colorado, bluegrass, 90s country, new country. It’s like building your own personal Field of Dreams. It’s kind of like writing a song, in a way. You’re writing it for yourself, but you’re hoping your fans like it. Because you can’t do it the other way around. You can’t write a song for fans to like and then not even like it yourself. You have to trust your gut. And really, I just wanted an excuse to go to Colorado every year.
5. For fans, though, he has high hopes as well.
“For the fans, this weekend has a chance to be a transformative experience in your life. I don’t take that lightly. You’ve traveled a long way to get there, and now you’re in the middle of the mountains. And this not Denver.” (It is, however, only about two hours southwest of the Denver airport, and the road that takes you to Buena Vista is the very definition of “the scenic route.”) “You’re staring at mountains. You’re listening to the best music. You’re making friends. It’s like ’Living’ in real life. You have the chance to walk away from this feeling inspired and really thinking about who you want to be.”
6. There will be mullets.
“No other country festival has a 90s night. Ours is an entire night devoted to that 90s music. This beard of mine is going down next week, and by the time I’m ready for Seven Peaks, I’ll just have the full ’stache. It’s all about giving us and the fans a chance to go back in time. Last year, fans even dressed up in 90s clothes, and we’ll be there handing out mullets and ’staches.” Bentley also told me that he and 90s great Clint Black just finished recording a song called “This Old House” for Black’s upcoming Still Killin’ Time album.
7. It took a machete for Bentley to carve out this niche.
“The world doesn’t need more music festivals the same way the world doesn’t need more singers. So we had to carve out our niche, and we did it with a machete. There’s nothing like Seven Peaks, because there’s nothing like this location where you’re literally surrounded by 14,000′ mountains. And I tried to make the line-up really varied, so there’s a bluegrass-rock band Larkin Poe and Chris Shiflett from the Foo Fighters, so it’s a place where all of us get to discover new music.” In addition to Bentley, Seven Peaks has rounded up some of Nashville’s best, from brand new artists to the legends we all treasure. Luke Bryan, Maren Morris, Ryan Hurd, Jon Pardi, Travis Tritt, Tracy Lawrence, Diamond Rio, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Deana Carter, Mitchell Tenpenny, Clare Dunn, Tenille Townes, Caylee Hammack, Hardy, Teddy Robb, Rita Wilson, Kendell Marvel, and more.
Everything you need to know about Seven Peaks is on the festival’s site, including how to buy passes, where to camp, and if you’re a fan of country music but not of roughing it, Bentley has that covered, too.