Of course, Bentley will also take the stage, but not just one time: The singer plans to perform at least once each day of the fest, possibly popping up for surprise collaborations with his fellow performers (“Hope to have a lot of cross-pollination,” he quips). And when he isn’t on stage, he intends on getting in on the festival action himself.
“I don’t plan on sleeping,” Bentley excitedly tells Billboard. “I plan on either being on stage or in the campground, high-fiving people, handing out free beers… Anything I’m involved with, I’m involved for a reason. It’s not work. When people look back on this festival the first year, [I want them to say], ‘Gosh, he was everywhere! No one was having more fun at the festival than Dierks was.’”
The mountain theme of the festival coincides perfectly (and non-coincidentally) to his aptly titled forthcoming album, The Mountain, which was written and recorded in Colorado -- and as he explains, isn’t just akin to the fest because of its name or recording location. “This album is really about just living in the present moment and trying to take it all in and enjoy where I am at this point in my career and what we’ve accomplished. Just soak it all up.”
Born and raised in Arizona, Bentley is thrilled for Seven Peaks to show fans what country means in the West (“Country music is so wrapped up in the southeast and Georgia,” he suggests), but to also show them the beauty that is Colorado. The awe-inspiring setting of Telluride Music Festival has enthralled Bentley -- a frequent Telluride attendee -- for years, and after finding the perfect place to record The Mountain in Colorado, he knew he had to give fans the same experience with his festival.
“I want people to be in awe of the scenery as much as they are of the audio and the music,” he says of the festival location. As for his new material, “I just kinda wanted to make an album that connected back to where I’m from. I wasn’t sure if that was a sonic thing or a lyrical thing or an idea, and I got here, and I was like, ‘Wow … I can’t take this vibe back to Nashville. These mountains, these vistas, these views: No one could understand this in Nashville.”
Bentley plans to make the Buena Vista setting as pristine as possible, with the owners of the grounds already working to ensure it’s as smooth and green as can be come Labor Day weekend. The “Woman, Amen” singer boasts that the location will “blow people’s minds,” and from a festivalgoer’s standpoint, he's promising that the biggest fans will be up front by not offering any special up-close seating for those who pay more.
With everything Seven Peaks will offer, Bentley hopes fans won’t want to leave once the weekend is over. “It’s all about the experience, and I’m a little competitive,” he says. “I just want people to walk away feeling like there was so much thought put into each and every fan having the best experience of their life.”
While Bentley says everything is coming together very smoothly so far, there’s a little more precaution in planning a festival this year. In the wake of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in Las Vegas last October, Bentley is putting heavy focus on making sure his festival grounds are as safe as can be.
“Everyone in our business has changed our approach to security,” he affirms. “I’m taking somebody on the road this year who’s an ex-Marine and specializes in security… Our goal is the make sure these people have the best night of their life, but at the minimum, we want them to have a safe experience.”
He continues, “We all look after each other. We look after ourselves. I feel safer there than I’d feel on any show because we’re all there together. There’s no buildings around, there’s no outsiders. It’s all people that are here for a reason. If anything suspicious is happening, I feel so lucky to be surrounded by, hopefully, 10-, 15-, 20-, 25,000 of, not just our fans, but people that are a part of our family. Our church. Our music.”
The serene setting that Buena Vista offers will help fans feel at peace while attending Seven Peaks festival, as Bentley did while writing The Mountain in Colorado, despite the tragedy that struck amid his writing process.
“Last year was a rough year,” he says. “And writing out here and being around these mountains -- all these stories that came out last year about people persevering, climbing their own personal mountains and overcoming their own personal obstacles -- kinda led me to this spot of real happiness and joy, wanting to spread fun and wanting to just send out that positive frequency of love to the fans through music. I hope this record really reflects that.”
And if the record doesn’t quite do that for some, Bentley is sure that Seven Peaks Music Festival will. “It’s a dream come true situation for me,” he gushes, “But it’s needed for all of us.” Weekend passes for Seven Peaks Music Festival will be available April 20. Head over to the festival’s official site for more details and pass information.