Before Dierks Bentley brings his co-headlining tour with Miranda Lambert back to Oklahoma next week, he has to make a not-so-quick stop in Las Vegas.
And it's a sure bet the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter will be busy in Sin City, since he is scheduled to perform at two events surrounding the 48th annual Academy of Country Music Awards. Co-hosted by Oklahoman Blake Shelton and fellow superstar Luke Bryan, the ACM Awards air live from 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday from the MGM Grand Garden Arena on CBS.
“It's always fun playing these things where it's a big industry hang ... seeing how all Nashville's gonna be out there in Vegas,” Bentley said in a phone interview from Nashville, Tenn., before his March 8 tour stop at Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy Arena. He and Lambert will bring their “Locked & Reloaded Tour” back to the Sooner State for an April 13 show at Tulsa's BOK Center.
Alongside Brad Paisley, Hunter Hayes and new artist of the year nominees Brantley Gilbert, Jana Kramer and Florida Georgia Line, Bentley, 37, will perform Sunday night at the third annual ACM Fan Jam and Post-Award Concert at the Orleans Arena. Throughout the three-hour ACM Awards broadcast, Fan Jam performances will be televised live via remote.
Also, the Arizona native will close Saturday the two-day ACM Party for a Cause Festival outside the Orleans Arena. Friday's festivities, featuring The Band Perry, Gilbert and Justin Moore, will be sponsored by the Outnumber Hunger initiative. On Saturday, the festival will showcase Bentley, Hayes and Kix Brooks and include a presentation of charitable funds to military-related nonprofits the Wounded Warrior Project, Folds of Honor and Nellis Air Force Base Force Support Squadron.
“I think country music really does have a real connection with families in the military. You know, there's a lot of country fans out there in the military, and we see a lot of them backstage every night at the meet-and-greets and whatnot. So, there's always been that connection there. I'm all for doing whatever I can do that makes them have a good night or raises some money for a good cause,” Bentley said.
The 2004 ACM new artist award winner is sure to be rooting for his “Locked & Reloaded” tour mate during Sunday night's show: Lambert, a Texas native who lives in Tishomingo, is nominated for the top prize, entertainer of the year, as well as female vocalist of the year and single of the year for her hit “Over You.” Plus, Lambert and Shelton, her husband of nearly two years, share a nomination for co-writing her emotional hit “Over You.” But the country power couple will be competing against each other in the entertainer category. Shelton also is nominated for the top trophy, as well as male vocalist of the year.
Other ACM Award nominees with Oklahoma ties include Carrie Underwood, Thompson Square, Toby Keith, Vince Gill and Rascal Flatts. Lambert, Shelton, Underwood and Garth Brooks are among the Sooner State stars confirmed to perform on the awards show.
Bentley will have a special guest at the ACM Awards: Kayla Sloan, a West Virginia Walmart employee who recently created a social media buzz after a customer uploaded cellphone video of the cashier crooning Dolly Parton's “Coat of Many Colors.” Sloan was featured on ABC's “World News with Diane Sawyer” and then Anderson Cooper's “Anderson Live!,” and Bentley called into the latter to invite the aspiring singer to the ACMs.
“Someone turned me on to a YouTube clip of her ... and she's just got a great like traditional country voice and knows all the Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton and old Reba stuff. Neat voice,” he said of Sloan, who performed last month at the Grand Ole Opry. “So, one of my team had the idea to call her up and invite her out to the ACMs and kind of experience that whole world. So she's coming out.
“It's kind of cool to help make someone's dreams come true,” he added. “That's really what it's all about. I think you're reminded more the longer you do it. You know, it all comes down to fans. It's all about the fact that they come out and they buy your record and come out to your show and scream for you. That's what makes this whole worthwhile and fun and gives us the life we have. I never forget that and I'm always appreciative of that.”