Tag Archives: Dierks Bentley




     Jason Aldean’s hit song about Nashville, “Crazy Town,” describes rolling into town and shaking off the “where you came from dust” so you can become somebody famous. “It’s a crazy town full of neon dreams, Everybody plays everybody sings.” That’s the artist side of things. Sell your soul to the devil for a hit record. For every artist who comes to Nashville hoping the city is a dream catcher, there’s a songwriter who moves there to tell stories. He’s not looking to shake off where he came from because that’s the foundation of his character and the source of his inspiration. While an artist may be willing to edit his image, a songwriter is only as good as the truth he can tell. Travis Meadows didn’t come to Nashville with aspirations of standing in a neon spotlight or becoming a songwriter. He was a songwriter long before he set foot in Music City and fame wasn’t something he coveted. His craft is dependent on taking life’s moments of stark reality and turning them into lyrics. “Davidson County Police” is a song Travis wrote that describes some of his truth. Blue lights shining in his face, it’s as if he was asked to take a songwriter’s oath: “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” Hand on the Bible, Travis answers in the affirmative. The truth is all he knows.

     To be a songwriter, you must first be a writer. In Travis’ words, “You either are or you aren’t a writer. You don’t become one.” For Travis, the writing started around age six or seven when be began rhyming things, writing poems. His progression from poetry to songwriting took place casually in his childhood. He grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, the dirt beneath his songwriting roots. About the age of ten, he started playing drums and learning rock songs. KISS’ “Detroit Rock City” and Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” were among the first he recalled having played. Around eleven, he connected the dots between poetry and songwriting. He wrote a poem and started making up words. “Lonely Heart” was his first song. A tectonic shift in his life happened when he was eleven, the age he remembers his first addiction started. He describes himself as having an addictive personality. When he does something, it’s all or nothing. His songwriting would become a product of those addictions and an addiction in itself. This was the beginning of Travis’ lifelong need to write songs.

     You might expect that Travis Meadows cut his songwriting teeth and his performance skills in Nashville. He didn’t. When Travis stepped off the bus, or got out of the car, the sign he saw said ‘Gatlinburg.’ Around the age of 21, Travis moved to Gatlinburg and learned to play the guitar. This would be no casual MEADOWS, TRAVIS GUITAR CLOSE UP EYES CLOSEDpreoccupation. When he was learning something new, it consumed him. He would play a song for 24 hours, marking it indelibly in his mind. One of those he learned was “Helpless” by Neil Young. Travis said he never followed bands much. He was more a fan of the singer/songwriters like Neil Young and Bob Dylan. What led to his taking a seat behind a microphone, putting a guitar in his hands, and singing his songs to entertain people wasn’t emulating those musicians he admired. It was a fellow Mississippian turned Tennessee resident that caught his eye. Watching Elvis movies, Travis saw a regular guy going about his life turn into something special when he picked up a guitar and started to sing. People suddenly paid attention to him. Encouraged, Travis started performing for the lunch crowd at a deli in Gatlinburg. He says he started out playing just three songs. He added a fourth and eventually was able to make selections from 100 songs he knew. This was the beginning of a dream for Travis that would lead to his making a bucket list move a few years down the road.

     Travis didn’t move to Nashville to become a famous songwriter. He moved to Nashville because he wanted to write with the best songwriters. Starting out an unknown entity in Music City, he went about trying to get a publishing deal. He’d had a few hits on Christian radio but now had to get the guys in the country market to pay attention to him. He had a series of meetings where he was playing some Christian songs while the guy that was supposed to be listening to him was otherwise occupied checking his email. At the last of these meetings, he decided to play some country tunes. This made the listener start taking notes. A day or two later, he had three publishers meetings. He said the first two went so bad he didn’t bother to go to the third one. He left demoralized. Songwriting was what he’d come to Nashville to do. There was no plan B. What happened next he describes as “the beginning of the end that started the beginning.”

     After an unplanned hiatus from songwriting, Travis found his way back to his passion. He says he traded dingy, dank bars for open mic and writer’s nights at more reputable establishments. These places are the proving grounds for some of Nashville’s best songwriters. Surrounding himself with new walls and new MEADOWS, TRAVIS SINGINGfaces was the inspiration he needed to write again on a level that might just land him a publishing deal. He described this new source of inspiration as “digging water from a different well.” Travis had been writing songs for an Australian country singer named Adam Brand. On the day that Scott Gunter from Universal came to see him perform, he played three of those songs. Unlike his previous experiences, this turned out to be a life changing day in a good way. Scott loved the performance and signed him to a publishing contract. He also learned that day that Adam Brand had recorded one of his songs. I doubt it happens often that a newly signed songwriter has a recorded song on the first day of his publishing contract. This would be his lucky day. If you ask Travis how he landed this deal, he’ll attribute it to luck as much as his credentials as a songwriter. He says landing a deal is a crap shoot based on the particular day and whose ear is doing the listening. Music is subjective by nature. Just as we choose music based on what we’re in the mood to hear at a given time, so might the guy whose job it is to decide the fate of your deal. Your future as a professional songwriter may be at the mercy of his mood.

     So Travis Meadows is now a professional songwriter living in Nashville. His dream come true! I’d always wondered how songwriters make money, so I took this opportunity to ask one. Travis’ response: “Hell if I know.” He says quarterly checks appear in his mailbox and calls it “magic money.” Explaining what he did know, he summarized the two types of royalties that songwriters earn. Performance Royalties are paid when music is performed publicly. This would include radio, in a bar, over Spotify and Pandora, etc. PROs (performance rights organizations) such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, collect performance royalties from music users and subsequently pay the songwriters and publishers. Mechanical Royalties are paid to songwriters and artists whenever music is sold. This would include vinyl and CD sales as well as streaming. For songwriters, mechanical royalties are set by the government (9 cents for every dollar earned via sale).  To receive his royalty check, Travis had to decide which PRO he wished to join. He was with ASCAP for 15 years before switching to BMI. The rate of payout fluctuates and often determines which PRO a songwriter will sign with. Travis doesn’t dwell on the subject of money when talking about songwriting. He says if you got into songwriting to make money, you’d be better off as a plumber. For him, it’s never been about making money. Commercial success rarely happens to writers. In his words, “Writers write because there’s something on the inside that needs to get out.”

     While songwriting is Travis Meadows’ occupation, it’s not a nine to five gig. Inspiration can come at all hours to a writer and may strike when you have nothing more than a napkin to write on. Creative passion doesn’t punch a time clock, nor can it be ordered up like a hamburger with toppings that suit the consumer. Songwriters have taken a beating for the cliched sound of country radio these days, lambasted as if they’ve suddenly run out of words. Travis says he pays no attention to country radio. He keeps busy – “head down and hands on the plow.” His spark comes from inside and his songs reflect the truth that built the man. He quoted Harlan Perry Howard, a hall of fame songwriter, when relating the belief from which he writes. “Country music is three chords and the truth.” Travis understands the role radio plays, often filling commute time with non-thinking music. Someone has to write the music to fill that spot and there are songwriters who do that exceptionally well. For something deeper, you’ll have to look outside the box. Many have been quick to report the demise of  good songwriting in country music, never having looked past the store window that radio represents. Great songs are written every day by truth tellers like Travis Meadows, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever hear them. Travis says that sometimes great songs slip through to country radio, but historically, the best cuts never do. For the holy grail of Nashville songwriting, attend a Writers’ Round.

     Travis played a Writers’ Round at Douglas Corner recently with friends, Lucie Silvas and Tyler Bryant. Patti McClintic was there for that event and had this to say about the experience: “Travis is enjoying commercial success with hit songs he’s written for Jake Owen, “What We Ain’t Got,” and Dierks Bentley, “Riser.” He played both of those songs for the crowd gathered at Douglas Corner and they were well received, but it was his lesser known songs that brought down the house.” Patti said it was difficult to choose which songs she felt most impacted by and which she would talk about because all of his MEADOWS, TRAVIS GUITAR FINGER UPselections deserved a mention. The two she settled on were “Minefield” from Travis’ 2011 album, Killin’ Uncle Buzzy, and “Black” from his 2007 album, My Life 101. In her words, ““Minefield” speaks to anyone who has ever found themselves in a dark place, found the light, and succumbed to the darkness once again, generally thanks to one’s own poor decisions. To hear Meadows explain how this song came about, reveals how honest he is about his own difficult past. He makes no apologies for that past, and rightfully so. “Black” is a song written for a grandfather that served as a surrogate father for Meadows as a boy. The relationship was a good one and left him with fond memories. The title refers to the black coffee that “granddaddy” used to drink. “Real men drink their coffee black.” This song was so powerful, as I glanced across the capacity crowd, I could see people trying to nonchalantly wipe tears from their cheeks. Rare is the writer that can evoke such raw emotions from the listener.” In such a setting, Travis has the opportunity to explain his connection to the song and the  circumstances that inspired its writing. Being in a room with several songwriters, all performing their powerful truths, is a cataclysmic experience. Patti called this the “perfect storm of songwriting” and summed up her review by saying, “It was the best ten bucks I ever spent.”

     Outside the Writers’ Rounds, where the truth is less self evident, country music is a changing genre. There’s been a lot of debate about the sound of country music and where it’s headed in the future. Traditionalists want to pull the genre back to its roots while others think the time is right to push the boundaries. Travis keeps an open mind about the music and doesn’t see the need to compartmentalize it. He referenced Eric Church when talking about this subject, saying that his fans aren’t necessarily country fans. Eric has amassed a following based on his music and who he is. If this were a game of rock, paper, scissors, music beats genre. The impact of the digital age on music hasn’t been lost on Travis either. He says that people buy songs these days, not albums, and they make playlists that include different genres of music. He isn’t surprised that this type of genreless listening has found its way into the music and thinks it may not be such a bad thing. He also reminded me that this isn’t the first time country music has had its boundaries tested. In the 60s, Ray Price added orchestral parts to the music, breaking from the traditional honky tonk sounding arrangements that were the accepted norm of the day. Travis sees country as a genre in a box, imposing its own growth restrictions. As a songwriter whose craft depends on his growth as a person, he relishes the artistic freedom that growth allows.

     Travis Meadows says he’s growing as a person and channeling that growth into a new album. There’s no time limit on the project and he’s not sure what the finished product will look like. As of now, he has about 17 songs for it but admits he has no idea what will end up on the record. What he does know is that MEADOWS, TRAVIS WITH HARMONICAthis album will definitely be lighter than the first two. When he wrote Killin’ Uncle Buzzy, he says the purpose was to save a life. He never intended for it to be heard. When it was so overwhelmingly accepted and lauded for the truths it told, it cast a long shadow on what was to follow. Travis says just to get past the reverberations of Uncle Buzzy, he wrote and released Old Ghosts & Unfinished Business. He admits there was no other reason for it. This time, he wants things to happen organically. He’s playing shows, going about his daily life, and thinking about what he needs to say. In order to say something new, he says he has to answer the question, “Who is Travis today?” The music will reflect that personal growth.

     For Travis Meadows, his life and his life’s work is in the songs he’s written, and he says he loves them all. I asked a hard question of a songwriter, to choose a few of his favorites from among the vast catalog. Travis said the list would change daily, but these rose to the top on this day: “Learning How To Live Alone” (Killin’ Uncle Buzzy), “Davidson County Police” (Killin’ Uncle Buzzy) because it was heavy and life changing, “Lucky One” (My Life 101), “My Life 101” (My Life 101) because it was his truth, not what they wanted to hear, “Old Ghosts” (Old Ghosts & Unfinished Business) because he made peace with the ghosts of his past by turning and looking at them, “Riser” (Dierks Bentley, Riser), and “What We Ain’t Got” (Jake Owen, Days Of Gold). Having come to Nashville to write with some of the best songwriters, I asked who he most enjoyed writing with. He said there were many, so just to name a few he listed Jeremy Spillman, Tony Lane, Tom Douglas, and Melissa Peirce. Travis said you never know what’s going to come out of a writing session, sometimes you come up empty, but every once in a while you come up with something great. With characteristic humility he said, “As a songwriter, you have to smile at heaven when you write something bigger than you because it’s too clever for you to have written.”


     I requested an interview with Travis Meadows the songwriter, what I got as a bonus was a conversation with Travis the man. There is no separating the man from his work. His work is merely a manifestation of the the life he’s lived and the man he’s become. He spent a good many years of his life learning to be comfortable in his own skin. As he put it, “I had to learn to be me.” His MEADOWS, TRAVIS WAIST UPsongwriting is the embodiment of all that he’s learned and the truth of his actions. Commercial success is not what motivates him. He told me that he writes what he loves, not what you want to hear. At the end of the day, when he signs his name to a song he’s written, he does so knowing it was the best he could do that day. He’s become known for writing good songs. Even with the spotlight that writing hit songs for Jake Owen and Dierks Bentley has given him, Travis is most at home where songwriters gather. He said playing at the Ryman was not the pinnacle for him. Playing the 9 o’clock show at the Bluebird Cafe is a gratifying pat on the back that says he’s made it in a songwriter’s town, where the best of the best come to tell their truths. His was not a neon dream. Travis has found that success for a humble man is simply three chords and the truth.

From WAY North of Nashville……..Bev Miskus

Watch the video for Jake Owen’s “What We Ain’t Got”!

Songwriters: Travis Meadows, Travis Jerome Goff

Travis said when they wrote the song, it was with the idea that it would be a guy and a girl song. Jake’s video gave it new life. He said he never envisioned it like that and it’s become bigger than he ever thought it could be.

Visit Travis Meadows’ website: http://travismeadows.com/


Download My Life 101 on iTunes: HERE


Download Killin’ Uncle Buzzy on iTunes: HERE


Download Old Ghosts & Unfinished Business on iTunes: HERE


Photographs courtesy of Bill McClintic at 90 East Photography.

Visit his website for contact information: http://www.90eastphotography.com/home.html

The essential Travis Meadows playlist!

Learning How To Live Alone” – Killin’ Uncle Buzzy

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Davidson County Police” – Killin’ Uncle Buzzy

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Lucky One” – My Life 101

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

My Life 101” – My Life 101

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Old Ghosts” – Old Ghosts & Unfinished Business

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Black” – My Life 101

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Minefield” – Killin’ Uncle Buzzy

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

What We Ain’t Got” – Jake Owen – Days Of Gold

Songwriters: Travis Meadows, Travis Jerome Goff

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Dark Side” – Eric Church – The Outsiders

Songwriters: Eric Church, Travis Meadows, Jeremy Spillman

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

Riser” – Dierks Bentley – Riser

Songwriters: Travis Meadows, Steve Moakler

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

©2015Bev Miskus



     Riser Air made its final U.S. tour stop in Baltimore Saturday night, and what a night it was in Maryland! Having previously written about Dierks’ Congress, I’d been told plenty about what to expect from his live shows and how moving that RISER TOUR BALTIMOREexperience would be. The chairwoman of his fan group, Ronna Clark, just attended her 60th show in Huntington, WV, two nights before I saw this one. It was my first Dierks concert and expectations were higher than Riser Air’s cruising altitude. Shows are often over-hyped and over-promoted to the point where they can’t possibly live up to the billing. In this case, Dierks’ Riser Tour truly rocked liked a G6 and left us all so high we may never come down. This flying adventure begins with the pre-boarding that took place the day before….

     No one expects snow in November to jeopardize your travel plans, least of all, six to seven feet of it!! Dear friends from Buffalo, Patti and Bill McClintic, wereMCCLINTIC, BILL - SNOWMAGEDDON set to make the six hour drive from New York to West Virginia on Friday to join me for this show in Baltimore on Saturday. Mother Nature, however, had different plans. Over several days, the area received record breaking amounts of snow, burying their house and resulting in a travel ban for the entire area, with all major roads out of Buffalo shut down. When the ban was lifted Friday morning, they began the harrowing drive, via back roads, to get to an open interstate that would bring them to Riser Air’s destination. When you’re being passed by snowmobiles on a freeway, it might be time to book a flight on Riser Air.

     If you’ve never been backstage, or on stage, for a concert event, it’s an eye opening experience. Our day with the Riser Tour started mid-afternoon, with an incredible look at what goes on before the arena fills up with fans. Randy Houser’s inimitable drummer, Kevin Murphy, invited me up to sit behind his MURPHY, KEVIN AND BEVdrum kit while it was sitting idly, waiting to be moved. It’s quite a view from up there, and if you’ve ever thought that there’s nothing to hitting some things with sticks for a couple of hours, try it some time. The size of this particular kit, whose name is Thunderdome, is massive, and intimidating to say the least. There was constant activity happening all around us with crew members and band members all going about their usual pre-show routines. There are a lot of people involved in the set up of a concert stage and a lot that has to happen to make that show go off without a hitch. Both Randy Houser’s and Dierks Bentley’s staff members who were responsible for our meet and greet experiences, were organized and professional. Dierks spent what little time he had before his set with the group of us who’d gathered for the meet and greet. He played a little acoustically and set the tone for the engaging show we were about to see. Meeting him is like meeting a friend who’s genuinely happy to see you and cares what you have to say. I’d say Dierks set the bar pretty high for meet and greet experiences with this one.

     Being that this was the last night of the Riser Tour in the U.S. and there was a good chance we were going to end up “Drunk On A Plane,” a particular beer BENTLEY, DIERKS WITH BEERvendor at the Royal Farms Arena did his part to induce that outcome. Shouting as if speaking to his congregation, he proclaimed to have the remedy for any of us who might be “suffering from the ravages of sobriety.” The coldest beer in the city of Baltimore was in his cooler and those of us lucky enough to be there should fork over the $8 and consider it our health care deductible for the night.

     One of the down sides of meet and greets that happen just prior to show time is missing all or part of another artist’s set. I’d wanted to see Eric Paslay for awhile, but the schedule for this night had me standing in line backstage instead of in my seat watching him. I did, however, PASLAY, ERIC B+Whave the good fortune of being just off to the right of the stage where I could at least hear what he was singing most of the time. Not many opening acts would tempt me to give up my place in line to go out and hear their set instead, but if I were to do that, I’d go watch Eric Paslay. His voice was absolutely flawless – smooth and pitch perfect. Just listening to him without being able to see him made me feel like I was at a blind audition on The Voice. It was a test of a singer’s voice being able to move you without anything other than the song and their delivery of it. His band members, Jake Campbell on lead guitar, Matt Iceman on drums, and Tommy Lee on bass, were equally in tune with the incredible vocal performance Eric was giving. When flying, the passengers can’t see what’s happening in the cockpit. We sit patiently, with out seat belts fastened, hoping for a smooth landing. For this portion of our Riser Air flight, Eric Paslay gave us the smoothest landing possible. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Baltimore. Your Riser Tour is about to begin!


     For the next leg of our Riser Air flight, fasten your seat belts. Randy Houser is about to break the sound barrier! I’d seen Randy Houser just two months ago at an outdoor venue in Virginia. This time, he was at an indoor arena in Maryland. MURPHY, KEVIN AND RANDY HOUSER IN BALTIMOREHe could not have generated more thrust from a performance if he’d landed a 777 inside that arena. Randy Houser and his band don’t just take the stage, they explode from it. When Kevin Murphy picks up those drums sticks, don’t fight it – just ride it. And what a ride it was!! Randy’s stage set up is very different from most others in country music. Kevin’s drum set sits HIGH above the stage and there are risers to his left and right that hold other WILLIAMS, WARD AND JUSTINband members. There are lights and smoke that seem to be entirely generated by the heat coming off this band. The set list is a perfect showcase of everything these guys can do. From Randy’s radio favorites like “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight” and “Goodnight Kiss” to his latest hit single, “Like A Cowboy,” he slays a vocal like no one else. He’s able to finesse the power in his voice to suit the song appropriately and leaves you feeling like you wrote it. The intensity coming from the crowd as a direct result of his and the band’s RYDER, TRIPPER AND JOHN HENRY TRINKOperformance was rocket launch powerful. Besides Randy’s ability to shatter glass with his vocals, he brings a band to the stage that you won’t find anywhere else in country music. Their purpose is to create music so powerful the audience will have no choice but to react and Randy facilitates that exchange. The always fashionable, Ward Williams, plays pedal steel and guitar; Justin Butler is on lead guitar; Tripper Ryder plays bass; and John Henry Trinko plays piano/organ. They are phenomenal to say the least and Randy is the catalyst for their monstrous contribution to the stage show. When this set ended, I checked my arm to see if there was an RH tattoo on it. That is how impressive Randy Houser was. Undeniably!


     I’d heard a lot about Dierks Bentley’s live show from people who’ve seen him numerous times over the years. Turns out, everything they said was true…and then some! When Riser Air landed on the stage in the form of Dierks Bentley and his incredible band, Dierks the man, the entertainer, and the fan showed up. This was not a headliner who needed a grand entrance. He is as BENTLEY, DIERKS - TIP IT ON BACKunassuming as any I’ve seen. He genuinely seems surprised when he enters the arena and sees thousands of people standing and applauding, as if he’s waiting for something to happen that’s bigger than himself. It was a celebratory evening being Riser Air’s final landing in the states and Dierks was ready to toast every mile that became a memory from the Riser Tour. He kicked off the party with “5-1-5-0,” followed by his other party favorites including, “Tip It On Back.” Thank you! Don’t mind if we do! The crowd was clearly ready to celebrate with Dierks and he embraced us like family with the heartfelt emotion he poured into every song. One of the standout moments of the evening was the song, “Up on the Ridge.” He stood with his band members on a high riser in the middle of the stage, video board as a backdrop. As beautiful outdoor scenes flashed by on the screen, the band’s euphoric interpretation of this song touched theMISAMORE, STEVE soul. It seemed like a musical metaphor for the heights the Riser Tour has reached this year and the bond the band has with each other. Dierks held the middle spot between Brian Layson on lead guitar, Cassady Feasby on bass, Dan Hochhalter on fiddle, Tim Sergent on steel guitar, and Steve Misamore on drums. The level of musicianship here is as high as Riser Air can fly. Outstanding in their field indeed!


     Dierks’ personality is the anchor of this show, and it shows up especially in the middle section of his set. He takes the time to tell stories of his music career and his life that make him just another guy who happens to play music for a living. He doesn’t ask for adoration from the fans, he gives it in every song and every story he relates. Heading to the back of the arena, he pays tribute to the fans in the cheap seats – where he once was. The story of his first concert with Bon Jovi is a crowd favorite, and his cover of “Living On A Prayer” is welcome music nostalgia. When bass player, Cassady Feasby, let fly his AMAZING line, “Livin’ On A Prayer,” the crowd went wild! Who knew Bon Jovi was in the house and masquerading as Dierks’ bass player? Give that man a microphone, because he can sing! Dierks finishes up in the back with “Say You Do” and a big dose of how close he is to the guys in his band.

     The end of Dierks’ set on this night was emotional for him and the audience. “I Hold On” was preceded by the story of his white truck and his well used guitar. Everyone was cheering him on through this one, bringing their own emotion to the lyrics. He talked about how much this tour meant to him and DIERKS BENTLEY DRUNK ON A PLANEhow humbled he was to have Eric Paslay and Randy Houser as part of it. Dierks is a fan as much as he is a headliner and it showed in the exuberant way he expressed his gratitude towards them. The encore began with the song everyone had been waiting for, “Drunk On A Plane.” He started singing this one and just let the audience have it. The look on his face was priceless as he leaned into the mike and then backed away to listen to the group effort this song had become. BENTLEY, DIERKS GETTING SIDEWAYS“Sideways” was a crowd pleasing anthem where Eric and Randy came out to join Dierks in singing and say good-bye to a tour they all clearly enjoyed. The final song of the evening brought a group of  Navy Seals to the stage who got a big thank you from Dierks and the entire arena. “Home” was like ending with the National Anthem, Dierks style. He ended the night on his knees, thankful for the life he has and the job he gets to do. This show of humility and respect for the fans who make that possible isn’t lost on anyone, and it’s one of the reasons he’s a fan favorite. What stands out at a Dierks Bentley concert is his total presence in the moment. For the couple of hours that he was on that stage, he was happy to be in Baltimore, Maryland, and not wishing he was somewhere else. Fans have a choice when making their concert travel plans, and because of nights like this, we’ll always choose to fly Riser Air.

Note: If you find yourself in downtown Baltimore, after a killer concert on a Saturday night (past 11pm) in search of food and drink, you may encounter a myriad of problems. Most places close at either 10 or 11pm. The ones that are open at Power Plant Live won’t allow you to bring in a professional camera out THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY BALTIMOREof fear you may want to take pictures of the unknown guitar player in the corner. The only restaurant that was open and did allow the camera in was The Cheesecake Factory at the Inner Harbor. They couldn’t have been more gracious and our waiter, Steffan, ROCKED! There was just this small little problem when we tried to leave around 1:30am and they directed us to exit through a locked mall. Fascinating window shopping, and no crowds, but also no way out. For future reference, simply return to The Cheesecake Factory and they will let you out the front door. Ladies and gentleman, we are clear for take off.


 Covering our #countrymusicnation.

All of the photographs in this article are courtesy of Bill McClintic of 90 East Photography. Please visit his website to see more of his outstanding work and for professional inquiries: http://www.90eastphotography.com/home.html

Download RISER through iTunes: HERE


Visit Dierks Bentley’s website: http://www.dierks.com/

Download HOW COUNTRY FEELS through iTunes: HERE


Visit Randy Houser’s website: http://www.randyhouser.com/

Download ERIC PASLAY  through iTunes: HERE


Visit Eric Paslay’s website: http://www.ericpaslay.com/

©Bev Miskus 2014




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 WHISKEY ROW SCOTTSDALEunder 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 imagebe 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 DBC-RiserTour-Charlotte-may8began 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 dbcongress-blog header-2014http://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 imageand 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 image (2)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 Dierks and DB Congress group shot-2did 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! DIERKS BENTLEY DRUNK ON A PLANE 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 NashvilleBev 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 dbcongress@yahoo.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!!

©2014Bev Miskus



I HOLD ON” is a CMA nominated Song of the Year!

Songwriters: Brett James and Dierks Bentley

Download the song through iTunes: HERE

      Sometimes it’s hard to bridge that gap between being young and, well, not so young, but if there’s one thing that can cause trouble at any age, it’s getting out of bed. The reasons vary but inertia is an equalizer. Music is another source of common ground for people of all ages with the only difference being how we relate to it. Dierks Bentley’s new album, Riser, dropped with a purpose. The title alone tells me that Dierks didn’t roll out of bed with a hangover for this one; he got out of bed with a purpose, because there were some things he needed to do.

      It appears Dierks has hit that age where he’s seen that life can sometimes get in the way of your dreams and the paths you take may not be where you thought you were going. Riser is a passport to a musical journey that adults can relate to. In a world obsessed with youth and money, this album is about real life. Once those birthday candles start adding up and you realize that not every day is a party, music can still provide whatever pick-me-up you need that day. The songs on this album are sometimes fun and light-hearted, sometimes thoughtful and heavy. Each one is likely to strike a chord somewhere and have you reaching for the repeat button.

      “Bourbon In Kentucky” is not a drinking song; it’s a song to drown your sorrows by. With a little help from Kacey Musgraves, this one is a pour your heart out downpour. It’s a validation that sometimes life hurts and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it except to ride it out and find whatever helps you do that. “Say You Do” is one of those escape from life songs when you just want someone to tell you what you want to hear, even if it’s not the truth. Even adults need a bedtime fairy tale every now and again. “I Hold On” is an autobiography set to music. It’s an impassioned ode to what’s important in life and the reasons we hold on to those things. In these first three songs, Dierks gives us the passion your heart feels when life gets rough and his vocal on these puts the exclamation point on that passion.

      “Pretty Girls” and “Here On Earth” offer more of a reflective melody that plays in the back of your mind whether you’re remembering good times or trying to figure out what it all means. “Here On Earth” is an impassioned plea for an answer Dierks already knows he isn’t going to get. The vocal grit on this one drives home the helplessness we’ve all felt when things happen that defy reason. “Drunk On A Plane” is a much needed respite from life’s troubles when you know alcohol won’t solve the problem but it sure feels good going down. The turbulence Dierks creates on this flight makes the idea of a 737 “rockin’ like a G6” sound like fun!

      The vibe of the next three songs is an upbeat, determined resolution. “Five” and “Riser” are defy the  odds, try and stop me anthems. They’re not heavy-handed, get loud, thump your chest rock anthems, but the fire in the determination to conquer whatever life throws at you comes through in the lyrics and the vocals. “Riser” is the phoenix of this album. Whether you’ve taken a tumble from some of life’s high moments or you’re trying to resurrect yourself from the ashes, this song will see you through. The strength of this vocal gives anyone who listens to it the feeling that no trouble in life is insurmountable. Dierks is everyman in this song and it provides a pinnacle of relatability. “Sounds Of Summer” is a touch of nostalgia for everyone. As winter drags on and we long for those hot days of summer, this song reminds us of what we’re missing. There’s a reverie to the sound of it which makes you look back on the summers of your youth and at the same time look forward to the things summer brings at any age.

      “Damn These Dreams” is a reality check. This one makes you question the choices you’ve made in life against the responsibilites that are ever-present. The mantra of youth is to follow your dreams. In adulthood, it becomes a balancing act. Again, the vocal here makes this song the powerful track that it is. The push and pull Dierks describes here is evident in the way he delivers this one from the heart. The impact of these lyrics would be irrelevant if the singer wasn’t truly connected to the song. It appears this one haunts Dierks every time he walks out the door and every other parent who has experienced this same struggle. “Back Porch” is a cold beer on a hot day. It’s cheap entertainment on a suburban street or at a country farmhouse. It’s a reminder that the best things in life are BYOB. “Hurt Somebody” reminds us that life isn’t always simple and sometimes we’re going to make choices we probably shouldn’t. Just like that old truck Dierks holds on to, you have to have some miles on you to understand what this one’s all about. It may not make sense to anyone else but life is like that sometimes.

      It seems everything is marketed for youth these days. The targeted demographic is often 18-29 year olds. The music industry seems especially adherent to this practice. Radio stations, record labels and retail outlets will do anything to reign in that consumer group as if they alone drive the global economy. Everyone falls into that age range at some point and then you come out on the other side and find out that life doesn’t end at 30. Depending on how you look at it, life can get more interesting and/or complicated after 30, but the adventure continues and so does consumer spending. Your taste in music may change but love of music lasts a lifetime. The songs you loved growing up will always stay with you but it’s important to have songs that resonate at each stage of life. Bucking this trend of playing to the targeted audience is a very adult thing to do. Dierks Bentley isn’t 29 anymore and he sings with the voice of experience now. You can listen to the songs on this album in order or hit shuffle on your ipod. Life isn’t always predictable and the songs here reflect that. If there’s an advantage to getting older, it’s that we get to appreciate albums like this knowing what it took to make them. Riser is a superb effort by Dierks Bentley and one that might just earn him a Grammy. How nice it would be for his dad to see him holding on to that.

FromWAYNorthofNashville……Bev Miskus

Bringing the stories of country music to life!

RISER is a CMA nominated Album of the Year! To preview and purchase the album through iTunes, click HERE


RIGHT NOW on iTunes, RISER IS JUST $7.99!! That is a steal of a deal on this award winning album!! Don’t forget, you can gift these to people too!!


DRUNK ON A PLANE” is a CMA nominated Single of the Year!

Download the song through iTunes:  HERE


Drunk on a Plane” is a CMA nominated Video of the Year! WATCH!!

Visit Dierks’ website: http://www.dierks.com/

Learn more about how you can join Dierks’ DBCONGRESS: http://waynorthofnashville.com/dierks-bentley-for-president-his-congress-works/


©2014Bev Miskus