Multi-platinum selling singer/songwriter Dierks Bentley has forged his own brand of country music, combining classic country songwriting, influences of bluegrass instrumentation and the energy of rock ’n’ roll. Bentley’s sixth studio album, “Home,”released earlier this year, debuted at No. 1 and has spawned three consecutive chart-topping hits, marking 10 career No. 1 songs for Bentley as a singer and songwriter. Home also garnered Bentley three 2012 CMA Award nominations for Album of the Year and Single and Song of the Year for the title track. His five previous studio albums have sold more than five million copies and earned him an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry. In 2013, Bentley will hit the road with Miranda Lambert for their Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley: Locked & Reloaded Tour, kicking off Jan. 17.
After just one decade in Music City, Kentucky native Chris Stapleton has accomplished more than most musicians hope to accomplish in a lifetime. His voice transcends genre and stands out among the homogenized commercial product typical of Nashville. Vivid, edgy, passionate - no matter the adjective used to describe his music, no word can truly capture the depth of his prolific songwriting, soulful voice, and honest musicianship. He moved to Nashville in the fall of 2001 with a catalog of twenty songs, a suitcase, and his guitar. After hearing simple guitar and vocal recordings of the songs Stapleton had written by himself, Liz O'Sullivan was determined to sign him as a songwriter at the newly formed Seagayle Music. Frank Rogers and Chris DuBois were equally enchanted, and within two months, Stapleton had what many songwriters wait years for: his first cut. Fast forward ten years later, and he has too many successful collaborations to even count. Among those are cuts with Patty Loveless, Tim McGraw, Lee Ann Womack, James Otto, Brooks & Dunn, Alison Krauss, LeAnn Rimes, Trent Willmon, Trace Adkins, Steel Magnolia, and Trisha Yearwood; and co-writes with Peter Frampton, Vince Gill, Bobby Bare, and Marty Stuart. "It's therapeutic and an exercise in purpose, but for me, it's more of a compulsion than anything," he says of songwriting. He writes for any number of reasons - the commercial market, his own enjoyment, because he or a co-writer has an idea, but the joy of it - and his greatest work - is born of not ever knowing what the purpose is. Left to his own devices, he is aware that he can be "way out there," but his diverse catalog is proof that he understands consistency, creativity, and the importance of marrying the two to be a successful songwriter. "I don't sit around dreaming up singles for artists - that's just not gonna happen" - these claims that he doesn't take the time to worry about what direction writing will take create co-writes conducive to creativity, resulting in chart topping singles with Kenny Chesney, Josh Turner, and Darius Rucker. In 2006, Stapleton joined forces with Mike Henderson and seasoned veterans Richard Bailey, Mike Fleming, and Tammy Rogers to form The SteelDrivers, a bluegrass band with rock, country, and soul influences. Writing with Henderson since his move to Nashville years earlier created a collection of remarkable songs, most of which were unlikely to be recorded by commercial country. Henderson expressed his desire to play a regular gig, and before they knew it, they were playing all original songs and catching the eye of record label executives. Their first record garnered the band a Grammy nomination, and their sophomore effort, praised by critics, earned them two more Grammy nods. Stapleton parted ways with the band in 2010. In 2005, what began as four guys jamming in a garage quickly became a more serious musical venture. Although Stapleton is known for both commercial country songwriting and bluegrass, he knew that working with JT Cure, Bard McNamee, and Greg McKee would be something extraordinary. Initially, their personalities meshed well, but their chemistry together as songwriters and musicians made it easy to collaborate. Stapleton describes their process as a "discovery - it's the prospect of what you might make up next." It's hard to pinpoint where The Jompson Brothers fit genre-wise in today's market, but they are rock and roll in it's most basic form - straight ahead rock and roll. The Jompson Brothers self-titled debut is available on iTunes.