Bentley 'Drifts' In

Excerpted from the magazine for

"Modern Day Drifter" is not just the title of Dierks Bentley's new album, it is also his lifestyle. The up-and-coming country artist is homeless, albeit by choice.

Bentley spends so many days on the road —- 300 last year —- that he has given up his Nashville houseboat to live with his band on the tour bus he refers to as the "USS Petri Dish." When he comes to Nashville, as he did recently for a party Capitol Records threw to celebrate the platinum certification of his debut album, Bentley stays in a hotel. When he spent 10 days here recording his new album last fall, Bentley slept in the studio.

Bentley, the Academy of Country Music's reigning top new artist, thinks it is that road work that has built his fan base. Thus, he'll keep up the pace for the new album, released May 10.

"I feel like all the hard work of the last couple of years will get a good thing started so maybe next year we can cut back a little bit on playing every county in the country," he says.

"We sold a million records and I think I sold every one off a handshake or drinking a beer with someone after a show," Bentley says, only slightly exaggerating when he adds, "we met every person who bought a copy of that record."

The album's sales were also boosted by three hit singles, including the No. 1 "What Was I Thinkin'."

Like the last album, "Modern Day Drifter" was produced by Brett Beavers. And like the last one, it features sparse production, bluegrass instrumentation and a collaboration with the Del McCoury Band. Bentley also enlisted Alison Krauss to sing on a track.

Concurrent with the album release, Capitol will issue a limited-edition two-disc CD/DVD package that includes Bentley's music videos, a surround sound mix of the new album and footage of Bentley and Beavers discussing each song. In addition, Bentley is selling a fan-club-only version of the CD —- featuring different artwork —- on his Web site.

And, of course, Bentley will be found most often on the road, with a slate of tour dates that at deadline was already stretching into October. Among the highlights of the list is sharing a June 9 CMA Music Festival bill with Keith Urban, LeAnn Rimes, Lee Ann Womack, Phil Vassar and Sugarland in Nashville, and stops at Wisconsin's Chippewa Valley Country Festival (June 23), Colorado's Country Jam USA (June 26), Minnesota's WE Fest (Aug. 6) and Texas' annual Austin City Limits Music Festival (Sept. 24).

Excerpted from the May 14, 2005, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to subscribers.

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