Ramblin' RhodesStroll down memory lane with music columnist Don Rhodes.

After lots of touring, every mile still a memory for Bentley

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You would think with 2 billion people -- 30 percent of the world's population -- watching the royal marriage of England's Prince William and commoner Catherine "Kate" Middleton on television that country music star Dierks Bentley might have been one of them.

Bentley  Special

But not only did Bentley miss the historic event broadcast live, he was so focused on his music and his appearance last Friday in Saint Charles, Mo., that he didn't even know such a wedding took place that morning.

"Queen?" he asked, after being told it was the queen's grandson who got married. "The only queen my band members and I know about is Queen Latifah," he said of the singer and actress. "I'm completely not knowing of any wedding like that," he added. "I know very little about pop culture."

If you're making the kind of money from record sales, concerts and corporate sponsorships that Bentley has been making lately, pop culture might be way down the list of your major interests.

He will be back in Augusta on Wednesday for a concert at Bell Auditorium that starts at 7 p.m. with opening acts Josh Thompson and a duo of women who bill themselves as Miss Willie Brown.

It was Bell Auditorium where many country music fans first saw Bentley in November 2004 when he performed at WKXC-FM's Guitar Pull.

His self-titled Capitol Records debut CD already had resulted in three hit songs: What Was I Thinkin'?, My Last Name and also How Am I Doin' .

Since then, Bentley has followed with hits including Lot of Leavin' (Left To Do), Settle For A Slowdown, Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go), Up On the Ridge and also his rocker Sideways, which is being used as the theme song for Fox Sports network's NASCAR coverage this year.

His current CD, Feel That Fire , was released last February.

The year after his appearance at the Guitar Pull, Bentley took two major steps in his life in 2005 by joining the Grand Ole Opry as a cast member and by marrying his high school sweetheart, Cassidy Black, who like Bentley is from Phoenix, Ariz.

Instead of having a royal-size wedding, however, the two eloped in a small chapel in a town in Mexico.

"We just ran off and got married, and I got back to playing my music," he said. "It's all about the live shows for me. We never did take a honeymoon trip. The honeymoon was part of the wedding."

The union has produced two daughters: Evalyn Day born in October 2008 and Jordan Catherine Bentley born just last Christmas Day.

"Oh, so you now have a 'Kate' in your own family?" Bentley was asked in another attempt by this writer to tie in the royal wedding with Bentley's own life.

"I thought we were going to talk about the Augusta concert," he said. "I didn't know I'd be doing an interview for People magazine."

Since the influence of bluegrass music is evident on 35-year-old Bentley's recent albums and considering he played with bluegrass bands shortly after he moved to Nashville, he was asked whether he had come to love bluegrass music growing up in Arizona.

"It really took my moving to Nashville to discover it," he said. "I thought this was an amazing new music that I hadn't been exposed to in my life. I discovered it by exploring different music venues when I moved to Nashville at 19 and by hanging out with songwriters."

Bentley said he did get to see Bill Monroe, the "Father of Bluegrass Music," before the Grand Ole Opry pioneer's death in September 1996.

"Yes, I got see him on the Opry before he died," Bentley replied. "He's one of the all-time legends of any genre of music. I have nothing but the highest respect for those guys who (like Monroe) play music just for the love of it."

Bentley has been known as one of the most active touring artists. He was at one time performing more than 300 shows a year including his Opry appearances.

He has cut back somewhat to spend more time with his family and with issues that concern him such as his annual Miles and Music For Kids motorcycle ride and concert, which this year will be May 22 in Columbus, Ohio.

The 90-minute, pre-concert rides and concerts over the past five years have raised more than $1.5 million for Children's Miracle Network hospitals. Proceeds for this year's event will go to the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus.

The event's name comes from Bentley's hit single Every Mile A Memory .

"Is every mile still a memory?" Bentley was asked.

"Yes, every mile is still a memory," he said, "and I'm still making some of my best memories. I'm having more fun touring than I've ever had. And this current tour brings up a lot of good energy in getting to see a lot of fun people."

In concert

WHO: Grand Ole Opry star Dierks Bentley with Josh Thompson and Miss Willie Brown.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Bell Auditorium.

TICKETS: $32.50, $38.50 and $44.50, www. georgialinatix.com, (877) 428-4849 or at James Brown Arena box office

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corgimom 05/05/11 - 08:55 pm
It's about time that artists

It's about time that artists started offering affordable tickets for concerts. They priced themselves out of the market.

I've seen him in concert before, he's pretty good.

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