Although I enjoy listening to country music just about anywhere, for me, it is best enjoyed in an outdoor setting. When the opportunity arises to see a country performer at an outdoor venue, you better believe I’m on board…but I hit concert gold this past Tuesday night when I went to see country superstar Dierks Bentley on this Gravel & Gold Tour at Colorado’s iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
The first time I saw Dierks was in 2017 at Fiddler’s Green and I recall then that it was an exceptionally good time. I left the concert that evening feeling like I had just had a blast at a rowdy, end-of-summer bash with a bunch of college friends. Last night this same feeling swept over me as I enjoyed Bentley’s engaging performance once again…this time at the epic Red Rocks!
Indeed the concert (held on September 5th with a second show on September 6th) was special and here’s why…
Beside the fact that it was held in a world-renown concert venue, the opening acts were quite exceptional! First to take the stage for the evening was the Red Clay Strays—a five-member band that born and raised among the red dirt clay of southern Alabama. Lead vocalist/guitarist, Brandon Coleman channels a bit of Johnny Cash and Elvis with his style, and the band’s sound is a unique blend of classic country, rockabilly and gospel-fed soul with a twist of bluegrass. They had the whole amphitheatre rockin’ to their upbeat energy. Although the Red Clay Strays are newer to the scene, this talented crew is about to blow up the spotlight!
Next was a fantastic performance by Grammy Award-winning country artist Ashley McBryde, who’s incredible voice is polished off with a very relatable, down-to-earth persona. I became a fan when I first heard her hit song, “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” but several songs she’s produced since then have made me an even bigger fan. At this show, she played favorites including “Maybe it was Memphis,” “One Night Standards, “Sparrow,” and “Tired of Being Happy” as well as some stand-outs from her newest album “The Devil I Know” with songs “Made for This” and her newest single “Light on in the Kitchen.” Aside from connecting with her fans through her music, McBryde radiates a genuine, humble charm that makes us love her even more. And it was on full display this evening as she graciously thanked her fans for their support and remarked about how incredible it feels to make music at such a spectacular venue. She even confessed to the audience that she and her band were supposed to be in Nashville releasing their new album this week but she just couldn’t turn down an opportunity to play at the infamous Red Rocks.
Around 9 p.m., the crowd amped up a couple levels when Dierks Bentley appeared, opening his set with his new album’s first single “Gold.” The multiple Grammy, AMA and CMA award winning country star definitely sang his boots off during his two-hour performance and much to the delight of the audience, played plenty of fan favorites including “I Hold On,” “Living,” “Burning Man,” “Somewhere on a Beach,” “5-1-5-0” and of course “Drunk on a Plane.” While it may seem impossible to top some of those immensely popular hits, Bentley introduced us to some incredible new songs including “Something Real,” “Cowboy Boots” (featuring Ashley McBryde) and “Same Ol’ Me.” About an hour into his non-stop performance, Bentley and his band gave us a taste of classic Southern soul with a bluegrassy performance of the song “Callin’ Baton Rouge” at the front of the stage—with band members playing an acoustic guitar, a bango, a mandolin and a fiddle.
But perhaps the real highlight of the night for us Coloradans came when Bentley shared with the crowd about his time spent living in Telluride with his family during the pandemic. He described how much of a lasting impact our incredibly beautiful state has made on him and admitted that it was with great reluctance that he returned to Nashville after his time living here. Bentley’s great fondness and affection for Colorado inspired one of his newest songs from the “Gravel & Gold” album, “Sun sets in Colorado.” It’s quite possibly the most perfect song for those of us who share Bentley’s love of this state.
Impressive stage sets aside, Bentley’s concert vibe feels like one heck of a party. His spirited performance just continues to grow throughout the night culminating with his cheering audience singing along to wildly popular tunes like “5-1-5-0.” Honestly, I don’t even think you have to be a huge country fan to enjoy this artist’s live performance. His voice, unaffected country style and ability to connect with his fans through fun-loving songs is truly admirable. If you missed your chance to see him here in Denver, check out other stops along his Gravel & Gold Tour and know that without a doubt, this Colorado-loving artist will be back!