The greatest measure of respect that we can bestow upon a fallen hero is to step up, step in and support that soldier's family – to open our hearts, extend our embrace and lend a generous hand, providing for others in a selfless manner that would make any patriot proud.
In the Fall of 2010, Dierks Bentley played four shows in four nights in New York City that illustrate just how unique he is among contemporary country music artists. First, Dierks the multi-platinum arena headliner played his hits at the Bowery Ballroom. Then Dierks the bluegrass student and devotee performed with the Del McCoury Band, and after that it was a songwriter’s night with fellow Music Row tunesmiths and a show with Chris Thile’s experimental Punch Brothers.
Probably no other artist on country radio in the past ten years could manage this kind of range and versatility. Especially when one considers the broader record. He’s had eight No. 1 singles and written every one of them. He’s performed at Lollapalooza, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Bonnaroo and the CMA Music Festival, tailoring his sets to each. His instantly recognizable voice and acoustic/electric hybrid sound have propelled him to membership in the Grand Ole Opry and, in 2011, a performance for the President at the White House. All made possible by his devotion to developing all sides of his musicianship.
Dierks has embraced musical diversity in his recording career as well, as his new album Home demonstrates. The project plunges him back into the country mainstream after a successful sojourn in bluegrass and roots music with the acclaimed and Grammy-nominated Up On The Ridge album. Moreover, working with some of Nashville’s most innovative studio musicians, Home finds Dierks singing over some new sonic textures and, for the first time, interpreting a few songs that he didn’t write himself.
“I definitely stepped away from the commercial country world for a little while,” says Dierks, noting that his last such album, Feel That Fire, album came out in early 2009. “That seems like a really long time ago. So this record feels fresh. It doesn’t feel like a continuation of any other project or series of recordings.”
But if there’s newness, there’s also a distinct familiarity about how Dierks and his music are connecting with fans. This sixth album of his Capitol Records Nashville career produced a No. 1 hit even before its release. That album-opening song, “Am I The Only One,” is a rallying cry to the fun-loving Dierks army. And it sets a tone - a good-time song kicking off a good-time record. Fans have already been enjoying tunes like “5-1-5-0” and “Diamonds Make Babies” in shows. The recorded versions will no doubt be spilling out of car windows as the weather warms up in 2012.
Home’s title track gives the mostly light-hearted album a vital, spiritual anchor. The song expresses pride and patriotism without sentimentality or illusions. It unflinchingly speaks of America’s “scars” and her tensions while illuminating those as sources of strength. The writing session took place just four days after the shooting in Tucson, AZ (Dierks’s home state), which took six lives and injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. That tragedy did not inspire the song by any means, but it did cast a shadow and influence Dierks and his co-writers, once some opening lines popped out that seemed to speak to the vitality of being an American in these challenging times.
“It’s really hard to write a patriotic song,” confesses Dierks. “But you want to. It’s something I think about all the time. I love the history of country music and I love the history of our country.” He seems to have pulled it off. The song impressed critics and earned a call from National Public Radio. Dierks was able to tell that audience that the aim was “to be inspiring and hopeful, but also address the realities of what's going on.” Elsewhere on radio, country stations embraced the risky single, despite its departures from any flag-waving formula.
The rest of the project is divided evenly between songs Dierks co-wrote and those he found on an unprecedented song hunt. From the former category we hear “The Woods,” an homage to another side of home, the privacy afforded by those little-known and mysterious backroads and fire circles where friends gather and rites of passage take place. Dierks also co-wrote “Breathe You In,” a pure act of romance and sonic seduction that continues the tone set by the multi-week chartopper “Come A Little Closer” a few years ago. And closing the album, Dierks and Jim Beavers conceived “Thinking Of You,” a connecting, reassuring song that comes honestly from a man who’s away from his family more than he’d like. Daughter Evie makes a brief guest appearance at the end, singing the record’s appropriate final words: “Daddy’s home.”
On the song scouting side, Dierks “reached out to the publishers and let it be known that we were looking for great songs. It didn’t matter where it came from and who wrote it – how big the name or little the name. We were just searching for as many songs to listen to as possible,” he says.
The results are rich. “Diamonds Make Babies” is a country cranker, bristling with electric guitar and a great beat. But the true hook is the lyric, a wry and worldly-wise bit of advice to an eager suitor who thinks he’s ready to get down on one knee and offer the stone. Dierks also throws his vocal power up to “In My Head,” which explores the fine line between love and obsession against a driving, pulsing track. And Dierks reaches back to the influence of one of his favorite musicians – Jamie Hartford – in recording “When You Gonna Come Around.” The slow-dance of a song is a duet with the wonderful Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town and offers some of the most organic textures and honest vocals on the album.
Dierks Bentley’s career in country music could be taught in music business classes because of its rare balance of commercial success and artistic breadth. Most young Nashville newcomers who gravitate to the Station Inn and the city’s bluegrass heritage are not the ones who wind up on arena stages. The city’s not programmed that way, even if it should be. But Dierks made some savvy choices, soaking up sound and wisdom on Tuesday night bluegrass shows and on Wednesday nights on Lower Broadway with the twanging, electrifying Jamie Hartford Band. In those same days, his day job at The Nashville Network’s tape vault gave him access to a library of classic country music performances, which he soaked up like a sponge.
Under these many influences, he wrote and recorded songs that honored the past and the heritage while saying something fresh. Early songs like “I Wish It Would Break” and “Bartenders, Barstools and Barmaids” suggested this was a writer/artist who could add something to the country tradition while speaking a contemporary language. That promise was fulfilled upon teaming up with Capitol with the shocking No. 1 debut “What Was I Thinkin’?” It continued with indelible hits, including “Settle For A Slowdown” and “Every Mile A Memory.”
The tone for Dierks’s career was truly set in 2005. He won the CMA’s Horizon Award for most exceptional emerging artist. And his passion for and stewardship of classic country music earned him membership in the Grand Ole Opry, where he was the third youngest artist ever to be inducted. The first Grammy Award nominations came in 2007 and they quickly became routine. Through the critically acclaimed Up On The Ridge album, he’s earned ten Grammy nods. And throughout, Dierks has pursued a broad-based strategy on the road, juggling arena dates supporting George Strait with club and college shows and now balancing headliner status in country music settings with gritty, jammy tours of rock venues.
“I walk a different path,” Dierks says. “Because of my love of acoustic music, I have opportunities to do different musical things. It’s not just one type of show, which I really think would be a lot easier!” Reflecting on a career that’s sent him from the bars of Lower Broadway to the top of country music, Dierks is a mix of amazement, gratitude and determination. “I don’t know what the next ten years holds but I think I’ve put myself in a position where I can satisfy all of the different things that I love about music.”
Throughout this journey (and critical to it), Dierks has sought out and made use of technologies that could help erase the distance between himself and his fans. The website that went up before the release of Home is perhaps the most audacious expression of that yet. The album’s cover is rendered as a mosaic of miniscule images farmed form Dierks’s nearly 200,000 Twitter followers. Drag over it, and the faces pop out in a magnifier. Click on any tile, and up pops what they’ve been saying – to Dierks and each other. It’s like a microcosm of everything Dierks has cultivated in his fan base: connectivity and immediacy.
He’s done things his own way, satisfied his own muses and done all he can do to bring all kinds of fans along with him. There’s every reason to think they’ll follow him Home too.Read More
One of the most popular and most recorded singers of the past quarter-century, Vince Gill has become the measure of excellence in country music. His vocal performances are spellbinding, his songwriting emotionally powerful and his guitar-playing world-class. Gill complements these stellar talents with a quick and easy wit and a generosity of spirit that is legendary. To those who know him best, though, he's "just Vince," a nice, regular guy who's always up for a good laugh and another round of golf.Read More
Vincent Grant Gill was born April 12, 1957 in Norman, Oklahoma. His father encouraged him to learn to play guitar and banjo, which he did, eventually adding bass, mandolin, dobro and fiddle to his instrumental array.
Gill achieved his big breakthrough in 1990 with "When I Call Your Name." That heart-rending lament won both the Country Music Association's Single of the Year award and a Grammy for Best Country Male Vocal Performance. Since then, Gill has won 17 more CMA honors, including Song of the Year four times. His Grammy awards now total 20. In the process of earning these distinctions, he has sold more than 26 million albums. His high, pure tenor voice and unerring sense of harmony have caused dozens of artists–from Reba McEntire to Dolly Parton to Barbra Streisand–to embrace him as a duet partner.
Gill co-hosted the nationally telecast CMA Awards for the first time in 1992. He continued to host "Country Music's Biggest Night™" for 12 consecutive years, ending his run in 2003. Gill not only set a record for the most times anyone has consecutively hosted a televised award show, but also raised the bar for other television awards emcees via his deft ad libs and gentle humor and his evident respect for his peers and the audience.
In 2006, Gill released These Days, a groundbreaking, four-CD set that featured 43 new recordings of diverse musical styles. Each album in the set explored a different musical mood – traditional country, rock, pop and bluegrass.
Gill is a member of the Grand Ole Opry. An avid golfer, he helped create the annual Vince Gill Pro-Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament ("The Vinny") in 1993 in order to help support junior golf programs throughout Tennessee. Besides being known for his talent as a performer, musician and songwriter, Gill is one of country music's most active and effective humanitarians. He has participated in hundreds of charitable events throughout his career. In 2006, the Academy of Country Music honored him as its Humanitarian of The Year.
In August 2007, the Country Music Association inducted Gill into its gallery of immortals, the Country Music Hall of Fame.Read More
Craig T. Nelson is an American actor. He is perhaps best known for his Emmy-winning role as Hayden Fox on the TV series Coach, Deputy Ward Wilson in the 1980 film Stir Crazy and Mr. Incredible in the 2004 film The Incredibles. He has appeared in numerous motion pictures (most notably the Poltergeist series) and had featured roles in five television shows (Coach, Call to Glory, The District, My Name Is Earl, and Parenthood). Coach ran from 1989 to 1997, with Nelson starring as college football coach Hayden Fox.Read More
He voiced Mr. Incredible in the 2004 animated film The Incredibles.
During the early 1990s, he made a guest appearance in the music video for country singer Garth Brooks's song "We Shall Be Free". Nelson made a three-episode guest appearance on CSI: NY as a "nemesis" to Gary Sinise’s Taylor.
His most recent films include 2009's The Proposal as Ryan Reynolds' skeptical father and 2010's The Company Men as a greedy CEO. He currently stars in the 2010 television show Parenthood as Zeek Braverman, the family patriarch.Read More
Since 1997, Rich Lerner has been a mainstay at the GOLF CHANNEL where his distinctive essays have punctuated coverage of golf’s major championships and the Ryder Cup. In 2007, he can be seen conducting player interviews and delivering his signature essays, doing play-by-play commentary for select PGA TOUR tournaments and, as show host, he sets the scene for viewers at the beginning of PGA TOUR telecasts. Called by noted golf writer Lorne Rubenstein "an essayist and reporter of distinction," Lerner was honored with the Women’s Sports Foundation Journalism Award for his documentary, Se Ri Pak, A Champions Journey. His work also helped the GOLF CHANNEL land a Cable Ace Award. From Tiger Woods: Millennium Man to Courage on the Fairways to New York Stories, Lerner has brought a number of in-depth specials to the GOLF CHANNEL. His latest series, Golf Chronicles, delivers programs on a variety of subjects, including the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the 1986 Masters, Annika Sorenstam and the youthful wave on the LPGA Tour. Rich earned a degree in broadcasting from Temple University in Philadelphia. In addition, he received The Hands of Peace Award for his continuing efforts to curb violence against women and children in his hometown of Orlando, Fla. Lerner and his wife, Robin, have two sons, Jesse and Jack.
Brandon Weeden is an American football quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. He was the starting quarterback for the Oklahoma State Cowboys from 2010 to 2011. Weeden broke several school records at Oklahoma State. He was selected 22nd overall in the first round by the Cleveland Browns in the 2012 NFL Draft.
A pitcher, Weeden was drafted in the second round of the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft by the New York Yankees as their first selection in the draft. After the 2003 season, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers with Jeff Weaver and Yhency Brazoban for Kevin Brown. Following the 2005 season, he was selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Kansas City Royals. Weeden played his last season of professional baseball in 2006 with the Class-A High Desert Mavericks of the California League. Injuries and a high ERA led to Weeden quitting baseball.Read More
Weeden enrolled at Oklahoma State in 2007 and redshirted his first year. The following year, in 2008 he appeared in only one game against Missouri State.
In 2009 Weeden played in three games, including one in the absence of injured Zac Robinson on Nov. 19. Alex Cate started the game, but Weeden replaced him at halftime and led the Cowboys to an 11-point comeback victory, 31-28 over Colorado in the nationally-televised Thursday night game.
In 2010 Weeden was named the starter for the Cowboys. In week two Weeden suffered a severe injury to his thumb, which led to two interceptions and two fumbles in a win over Troy. Weeden said, "Hurt thumb, no thumb, whatever, it doesn't matter. I don't care if I don't have a thumb. You've got to take the snaps." He followed that performance by throwing six touchdowns the following week. He was named Big-12 Offensive Player of the Week in the victory over Tulsa.
The win helped move Oklahoma State into the Coaches' Poll top 25 for the first time in 2010. Coach Gundy reflected on the win: "Sometimes, you have games like that. We were rolling on all cylinders." Weeden added, "We had a great week of practice....It was a whole lot of fun tonight."
In his senior season, 2011, he led Oklahoma State to an 11-1 regular season, a number 3 ranking in the BCS standings, and a berth in the 2012 BCS Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. He also broke school records in total attempts, completions, yardage, and touchdowns (all which were previously held by incumbent Coach Mike Gundy). Mike Gundy is actually third in completions and total yards, behind Weeden in 2010, and Zac Robinson in 2009, both quarterbacks under his tenure at Oklahoma State. In 12 games, Weeden completed 379 of 522 passes for 4,328 yards.
In the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, the last game of his college football career, Brandon Weeden threw for 399 yards, completed 29 of 42 passes, and had 4 touchdowns (3 passing, 1 rushing) along with one interception in a 41-38 win against the Stanford Cardinal in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Weeden was drafted by the Cleveland Browns with the 22nd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft; the oldest player ever taken in the first round, at 28 years old.Read More
David Cook is one of the country's top Peak Performance coaches and seminar leaders. He served as "Mental Training Coach" for the San Antonio Spurs from 1996 – 2004 that included two World Championships. He also served as mental training coach for the Washington Wizards of the NBA in 2005, helping them reach the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. Golf Digest recently named him one of the “Top 10 Mental Game Experts” in the world of golf. As past president of the National Sport Psychology Academy he is known as a leading authority in the science of Peak Performance. David Cook has coached performers from the PGA (over 100 players), NBA (two NBA MVP’s, David Robinson and Tim Duncan), NFL, MLB, Olympics, and collegiate national championship ranks. His business clients have included The PGA of America, Exxon Mobil, Sprint, HP/Compaq, USAA, Heinz, American Express, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Texas Instruments, Bayer, Interstate Battery, StorageTek, Pitney Bowes, US Filter, State Farm Insurance, Robert Half International, and many others.Read More
David is President of his Texas based Peak Performance firm that bridges the gap between the sports and business arenas. He is the former Director of Applied Sport and Performance Psychology at the University of Kansas (1984 – 1996) where his peers elected him President of the National Sport Psychology Academy in 1992. During his twelve year tenure at K.U. he counseled over 1500 athletes and coaches. He also directed the Mindset Academy at the Westin La Cantera Resort, a nationally recognized mental training academy for aspiring competitive golfers from 2001 - 2006. David’s articles have been featured in Golf Magazine, Golf Illustrated, and Golf Tips. In 1988 David represented the United States at the International Olympic Academy in Olympia, Greece.Read More
Barney Adams is an entrepreneur, the founder of Adams Golf, inventor of the Tight Lies fairway wood, holder of several patents on golf products, and author of The WOW Factor. Adams began playing golfing at 14, caddying at Onondaga Country Club in Fayetteville, New York. Adams attended Clarkson College on an athletic scholarship, graduating in 1962 with a Business Management (BBA) degree and also became a member of Sigma Delta, a local fraternity on the Clarkson campus. After graduation, Adams worked for Corning Glass in various engineering positions, and then entered the supermarket industry in Southern California as an independent sales representative. He then led a Silicon Valley startup making microprocessors to reduce retail energy usage. In 1983 Adams joined Dave Pelz Golf in Abilene, Texas.Read More
Adams book, The Wow Factor, is an insiders look at the golf industry and offers business advice to entrepreneurs. Adams continues to be an avid golfer, but now mainly pursues his hobby, saltwater fly fishing.
When Dave Pelz Golf Golf Inc. went bankrupt, Adams bought the assets and started Adams Golf. Initially specializing in custom fitted golf clubs, the company rapidly expanded after the creation of the Adams Tight Lies fairway wood. In 1998 Adams Golf went public on Wall Street, with an initial public offering underwritten by Lehman Brothers. In 1999, Adams was selected as Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 1999. Although semi-retired since 2000, Barney Adams retains the title Chairman of the Board.Read More