Dierks Bentley Brings ‘Gravel & Gold’ to Nashville’s CMA Theater

On the eve of the release of his 10th studio album, Dierks Bentley hosted a celebration at the Country Music Hall of Fame’s CMA Theater.

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“An Evening with Dierks Bentley: The Road to Gravel & Gold,” held on Thursday (Feb. 23), had Bentley sharing the stories behind his latest album Gravel & Gold alongside his collaborators and several special guests. Bluegrass Music Hall of Famer Sam Bush graced the stage for several songs, as did the Del McCoury Band, The War & Treaty, and songwriter Luke Dick.

The one-night-only concert event was as much an album release celebration as it was a career retrospective for Bentley, who performed several of his past hit singles throughout the nearly two-hour set. The show was also available to watch via Universal Music Group’s official Twitch channel 3 Point 5.

“This is obviously a very special night for me and the guys,” Bentley said at the start of the show. “We’re going to celebrate the release of Gravel & Gold, my 10th studio album, and look back at some songs in my career.

“It’s really about this 10th album. That number took on a lot more significance as the recording process went on, and on and on over the last three years. It became a little bit of a theme in and of itself about trying to look back and maybe making a compilation of the sounds and styles and themes that I’ve collected over the years.”

Photo Courtesy of Capitol Records Nashville

The concert was structured into categories that reflected Bentley’s musical journey over the past 20 years: living, big hair days, bluegrass influence, search for the truth, and the Luke Dick file. American Songwriter details each category and its respective highlights throughout the singer’s set below.


Following his opening performance of the top 15 single “Gold,” Bentley explained that he has songs in his catalog that he sings to “remind myself to have some presence and gratitude.” Those songs include both the current single “Gold” and the reflective 2019 No. 1 hit “Living.”

“[They’re] about being in the rainbow but sometimes not seeing it because you’re looking up to that pot of gold, so I hope we can do some living tonight,” Bentley commented before he segued into the uplifting track “Living.”  

With lyrics like Some days you’re just breathin’ / Just tryin’ to break even / Sometimes your heart’s poundin’ out of your chest / Sometimes it’s just beatin’ / Some days you just forget / What all you’ve been given / Yeah, some days you just get by / Yeah, some days you’re just alive / Some days you’re livin’ , he aptly got his point across.

Big Hair Days

“I thought about actually dividing this entire show by different phases of my hair,” he joked. “You’d be surprised that hair correlates pretty well with different time periods of my life and the music I was making.”

Bentley’s “big hair days” are circa 2005 (and 2023, really) and can be seen on the album artwork of his second studio album Modern Day Drifter. This portion of the show included the 2005 single “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do” with a revamped instrumental break that Bentley said goes back to 2012, and the standout “Heartbreak Drinking Tour,” featured on Gravel & Gold. Ahead of performing the fiery road anthem “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do,” Bentley recalled recording the project with producers Brett Beavers and Luke Wooten.

“Luke and I made a lot of records together back in the day and I learned so much from Luke about making records,” he recalled. “He and I and Brett, we put a big poster of Buck Owens in the tracking room over at Ocean Way when we cut this album, this Modern Day Drifter album. The attention Luke pays to acoustic instruments is why these songs still hold up, especially when you got Charlie Worsham in the band.”

Bluegrass Influence

The concert soon transformed into a bluegrass jam when Bentley introduced Bush on mandolin to perform the new track “Sun Sets in Colorado,” a song on Gravel & Gold written by Ross Copperman, Tommy Lee James, and Josh Osborne, and the title track from his 2010 bluegrass album Up on the Ridge. Bentley and Bush would later be joined by members of the Del McCoury Band, including 83-year-old Del McCoury, for the bluegrass-tinged “High Note.” With a mesmerizing minute-long instrumental jam mid-song, Bentley and Co. received their first standing ovation of the night on the Worsham and Jim Beavers-penned tune.

Bentley later segued into a cover of McCoury’s “Good Man Like Me,” featured on his Modern Day Drifter album, before he announced that the band was going to “do one for me.” Bentley then introduced that the ensemble would perform a cover of Bill Monroe’s “Roll On Buddy, Roll On,” a duet that McCoury played on and sang on in 1963.

Search For the Truth Songs

Bentley invited The War & Treaty to join him for a cover of U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love).” The powerhouse husband-and-wife duo made up of Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter elevated the U2 classic to new heights with jaw-dropping harmonies. The collaborators rightfully gained the second standing ovation of the night.

Bentley then segued into the introspective “Still,” a song he described as his only successful Zoom writing session. The stripped-down number saw Bentley on acoustic guitar before the full band joined back in for the standout “Something Real.”

Luke Dick File

Songwriter and producer Luke Dick wrote five of the 14 tracks on Gravel & Gold. Ahead of introducing Dick, Bentley performed the ear-grabbing ode to being yourself “Same Ol’ Me.” A song Bentley co-write with Dick and Jon Randall, the singer later raved about his collaborator.

“Nobody writes like him, nobody hangs like him,” Bentley praised. “He’s also in the band called Hey Steve and my kids love Hey Steve. If you know you know. … We’re bringing Luke out here and singing one of my favorite tracks on this record.”

The pair then traded verses on “Walking Each Other Home,” a poignant ballad on Gravel & Gold the pair wrote with John Osborne. As they sang So find a hand for holdin’ on / Cause we’re all just walkin’ each other home, the collaborators shook hands, proving the night was as much about Gravel & Gold’s collaborators as it was Bentley’s career retrospective.

“Thanks again for coming out and spending your night with us,” Bentley sad at the show’s close. “It really means a lot. It’s such a once-in-a-lifetime kind of deal for us and really feels that way. 10th album, unbelievable.”

Bentley’s Gravel & Gold is out now.

Photo by Jim Wright / Greenroom PR

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