Interviews

Where I Come From: Dierks Bentley on the Magic of the West & Growing Up in Arizona

Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Before Dierks Bentley rose to fame with his self-titled 2003 debut album and first single "What Was I Thinkin'," the singer-songwriter was a true "Son of the Sun" growing up in Phoenix, Arizona.

"I always thought Arizona was like the capital of the country music world. I didn't know anything about the south. I hadn't really been anywhere east of the Mississippi. We were in the west -- a lot of cowboy hats and desert and great radio stations like Camel Country and KNIX," Bentley told Wide Open Country and other media outlets during a virtual press conference in October. "All the concerts rolled through town. America West Arena -- every week there was someone huge playing there. But really, country radio was just those two stations. There really wasn't iPhones or any other source of entertainment. It was just all music, which I think a lot of us are probably really grateful for. That was it. Liner notes and albums covers and concert ticket giveaways and who's coming to town. That was our community -- going to one of those concerts. It was all about country radio and going to concerts. That was the biggest form of entertainment."

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The "Gone" singer frequently references his desert and western roots in his songs ("Son of the Son," "The Mountain") and collaborated with the clothing brand Flag & Anthem to launch a line of vintage-inspired clothes called Desert Son.

Bentley says being out west reminds him of his father, who passed away in 2012.

"There's a lot of memories that still go with being out there. I think my dad is tied into a lot of that when I'm out west -- family and growing up and nostalgia," the country star says. "The same way you hear in a lot of country songs about farms and the southern lifestyle, I think I feel that for the western lifestyle. We all go back, like the great Kenny Chesney song. It feels like home in some ways. I love it out here [Nashville] and I have a lot of transplanted Nashville-blood in me, but there's something special about being out [west]. This next album, I don't necessarily want it to be a themed album, but I don't know. Maybe [I'll do] something about the desert. [Laughs] Any excuse to spend more time out there."

Bentley's hometown of Phoenix is known for its stunning landscapes and baby-blue skies and boasts plenty of attractions, such as Camelback Mountain, The Musical Instrument MuseumPapago Park, a desert botanical garden and Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home, Taliesin West.

Bentley, a Grand Ole Opry member, launched the Seven Peaks Music Festival in Colorado in 2018. The CMA Award-winner has released Modern Day Drifter, Long Trip Alone, Feel That Fire, Feel That Fire, Up on the Ridge, Home, Riser, Black and The Mountain.

 

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Where I Come From: Dierks Bentley on the Magic of the West & Growing Up in Arizona