DIERKS BENTLEY – TIP IT ON BACK – HOME
Songwriters: Ross Copperman, Tully Kennedy, Jon Nite
DB’s future campaign song is available through iTunes: HERE
In a shocking turn of events this week, I found a congress that actually works! No, not the one on Capitol Hill. (As if!) This one belongs to Dierks Bentley. They don’t work under a dome and Goldie isn’t parked at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. When they meet, it’s usually at a concert venue. First, members of DB Congress stand together in line, often all day, so they can be first into the pit area and line up right along the stage. No opposite sides of the aisle for these members! Once their president takes the stage, not the slightest disagreement takes place. No rebuttal necessary. They agree on absolutely everything, except maybe the set list. Perhaps what that other congress needs is to “Tip It On Back” with Dierks.
The question keeps hovering above Music City these days, what makes something “country music?” Many want to tie it to a particular sound or style of lyrics. I think we may be looking for that answer in the wrong place. Following a few fan groups as I have recently, I’m finding a clear pattern amongst country music fans that seems to exemplify the genre. What sets them apart from other fans is the reasons they like country music and why they become devoted to certain favorites. In the rock era, there were plenty of groupies and fanatical fans, but no one would tell you they supported Motley Crue because of their exemplary character. Yeah, those four words in the same sentence – “Motley Crue” and “exemplary character,” would not have gotten me an ‘A’ on an English paper! When I spoke to the Chair of Dierks Bentley’s fan club, which is officially named ‘DB Congress,’ she couldn’t say enough about the character of the man they wholeheartedly support.
When you say the word ‘congress,’ I can hear you groaning from here, it conjures up thoughts of nasty campaigning and contested election results. Dierks Bentley’s congress began to assemble because of a genuine moment between him and the current Chairwoman of the DB Congress, Ronna Clark. She’d waited in line for three hours to meet him at a large fan event in 2004. Being among the last in line after that long a wait, you’d expect the artist to be tired and dismiss you rather quickly. Dierks introduced himself (as if he needed to!), made eye contact, thanked her for waiting so long, and had a real conversation with a fan he’d just met. From that chance encounter, she became more than just a fan of Dierks Bentley, she would become one of his biggest supporters. When an artist is breaking into the business, getting those first few albums out, their fan club offerings are often haphazardly put together. Things change as fans either respond and join the club, or it falls flat and the idea is reconsidered. DB Congress formed on Dierks.com in 2007. Ronna spent some time on the message boards there before connecting with other fans and sharing her passion. In 2009, when management changed and the message board was lost, she appointed herself Chair and started dbcongress.com. As often happens when people feel as though they’ve lost their voice and connection to each other, they band together to create a stronger one.
In order to form a more perfect union, just as those early patriots did, the DB Congress started with a preamble: “We the members of the Dierks Bentley Congress, in order to form a more perfect fan club, establish a band of brothers and sisters, ensure domestic, light, and colds for all, provide a voice for the common fans not in the fan club, promote the general welfare of our president’s career, and secure the blessings of his tremendous talents, do ordain and establish this constitution of the united fan-clubbers of DB, country music singer, songwriter, artist extraordinaire.” And boy do they mean it! When Ronna invited me to take a look at their site at http://www.dbcongress.com/, I had no idea I would find the well organized, tight-knit community of followers I found there. Their efforts are completely transparent (now there’s a concept!), compartmentalized, and efficient in working towards their clearly stated goals. They have representatives in all 50 states and in 10 countries around the world, all dedicated to the same cause. As of now, they are 777 members strong! Among the ranks, they take on various tasks and promotions and each do their part for the greater good of the end game. Maybe they should write a book called ‘How To Run a Congress for Dummies’ and I would be more than happy to deliver it to the Capitol!
The name ‘DB Congress‘ came out of an interview Dierks had done in 2006. He referred to his fan club as being “like his congress.” He went on to say that he listens to them and wants them involved in the overall growth of his music and his career. Some time after his devoted fans adopted the name ‘DB Congress’ in 2009 for their efforts on dbcongress.com, Dierks showed just how much respect he has for this group by asking THEM for permission to use the term ‘DB Congress‘ for HIS official fan club online. Talk about R-E-S-P-E-C-T! What’s more impressive about this act is that it isn’t at all unlike Dierks to do such a thing. Ronna repeatedly told me about instances of Dierks interacting with fans and members of his team, treating them all as equals and NEVER as if he were anything more special than they were. May I be the first to offer to manage Dierks’ campaign should he ever decide to run for office?! Listening to her talk about Dierks Bentley was as much a character analysis as it was a music review. Of course his fans love the music, but it’s the making of that music and the man behind it that they are so proud of.
“I Hold On,” Dierks’ latest #1 hit off his Grammy worthy new album, RISER, is a song his congress members feel represents him beautifully. “It’s Dierks to a tee,” Ronna summed up. Dierks co-wrote half the songs on the album and his core fan group says he poured a lot of himself into those lyrics. They talk about Dierks the songwriter as much as Dierks the performer. When you put that much of your heart into the music, it’s bound to transcend the studio recording of it and manifest itself into the live show. They’ve all seen enough of Dierks’ live shows to see that transition in action. When Dierks shows up for a concert, she explained, he is completely present in the moment. It is obvious in everything he does throughout the show that, to him, there is nothing more important than making a connection with every person in that room. Not only do his songs resonate with the audience, but fans feel like they’re taking home a piece of Dierks with that ticket stub. When she said that to me, I couldn’t help thinking about a song on the album called “Back Porch.” Dierks didn’t write this one, but the way she described his concerts, it reminded me of the opening lyrics: “Ain’t no line around the corner, no security. No velvet rope, no dress code. Everybody’s V.I.P. You can wear your hat, dance in your bare feet. No credit card, no roll of cash. Just B.Y.O.B.” It sounds like Dierks approaches his concert stops as if he’s playing on someone’s back porch in each of those cities. The fans love it, and it’s obvious that he does too.
It’s been ten years since Ronna Clark met Dierks Bentley for the first time in Nashville. She still remembers it vividly. Photo ops and autographs are fine, but a lasting impression made through a meet and greet is out of the ordinary, especially one that inspires you to devote yourself to his career milestones for ten years, 56 shows, and counting. Not only did Dierks impress her, he equally impressed the other 777 members of his congress. They don’t get paychecks, free tickets, or special access to meet and greet opportunities. There aren’t any corporate sponsors, lobbyists, or billionaires lining the pockets of this congress. They met Dierks the man and discovered how talented he was. His genuineness sparked a passionate following. He earns their respect every day. He recognizes their efforts consistently and takes the time to thank them for each achievement, large or small. For their part, the DB Congress operates like a network. Their local representatives support Dierks’ interests in their respective states. They have cabinet members for the really big jobs that involve a collective effort and nationwide interests. Carrie Srebro is their chart reporter who keeps up with where Dierks’ songs are on the charts and what needs to be done to keep them moving up! Tara Joan does research and contributes to their blog. Possibly the longest fan club member, Stephanie Lanham, does graphics for the group and will be attending her 100th show next month! Their campaigns are all positive and all about promoting their president. No yard signs, nasty television ads, or robocalls from these folks. And when they set out to do something, it gets done! Seriously Dierks, can we borrow your congress for awhile? Might be time for a DB Congress march on Washington and a little chillin’ on the back porch at The White House. I hear you’ve got a truck that would look just perfect in the driveway! We’d even let you reshoot the video for “Drunk On a Plane” on Air Force One. Picture that “rockin like a G6!” Consider this: we’ll change the address at The White House to 5-1-5-0 Pennsylvania Avenue. For your inauguration, we’ll host the largest DB concert ever on the National Mall (holds 1 million+) and we’ll all get a little “Sideways.” Just one request…B.Y.O.Congress.
From WAY North of Nashville…Bev Miskus
Note: Anyone who joins Dierks Bentley’s fan club through http://www.dierks.com/ automatically qualifies to be a member of http://www.dbcongress.com/. If you’re interested in promoting Dierks daily, email them at email@example.com and let them know under what state to add your name. This makes you an official Representative in Dierks Bentley’s Congress! No expensive campaign or mudslinging required! In addition to their website, you can also connect with them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/DB-Congress/51994656451 and follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/dbcongress.
RISER is available through iTunes: HERE
Visit http://www.dierks.com/tour-dates.html for RISER TOUR and ticketing information.
Just named by Taste of Country the HOTTEST TOUR OF THE SUMMER!!