Written by Dave Clements
Jun 16, 2012 at 06:00 PM
ImageBefore I share my observations of the Dierks Bentley & Friends Show that took place Sat., June 16th at The Woodlands Pavilion, a word of thanks should be expressed.  Live Nation’s Levi Johnson & Brian Birr have been generously supportive of what we do at Houston Music Review and these guys bend over backwards to help us get you a good story and photos to match, so my heartfelt thanks to you both.

Now, regarding the show… it had several twists and turns as the afternoon and evening unfolded.  We had another  steamy summer Texas day/evening and there was  electricity in the air, sometimes literally as storms rolled  through the area. Their timing worked out okay though and provided minimal interruption.

The concert was kicked off on the big stage by Chris Cagle. Certainly I had heard of him being a local boy however I really didn’t know that much about him or his music.  If I’d had more exposure to him and his music I would have been a fan way before this performance. Cagle belted it out with serious country vocals and the energy to go after it pretty good all from a wooden stool. He had a lot of the characteristics of my friend and fellow singer/songwriter Kevin Black…emotionally charged and willing to put it out there.

Chris hails from Baytown (a place I know well having worked there for over 10 years in my prior life), and he graduated from Ross Sterling High School in ’87.  Based on his comments it didn’t sound like he’d played around here much AND greatly appreciated his local fans who came out to watch him.  Chris let the audience know that he was aware they could have chosen another place to be in the  early afternoon and the sweltering heat.  He seemed genuinely touched at the size of the crowd and  enthusiastic support.  It impressed me too that this hard working artist had just flown in from a show in Wisconsin early in this morning and was flying to another show in California later that afternoon.

Next up was Wade Bowen, another of Texas’ own. Wade has been noticed nationally here lately and for those of us that have been listening to this guy for the last decade or longer we are excited to see him ‘break out’ beyond the great state of Tejas! Bowen has a unique sound and very understated demeanor that I think kind of gets in his way from time to time.  On this day, at least early in the set, he was WAY laid back.  He shared that the band had played 25 shows in the last 30 days which from a business standpoint is good if they can keep their energy/focus level up during each show.

I thought the guys were little slow to get into their musical groove however by mid-set they had reached a nice stride. The best offering was their FIRST TOP 10 HIT, ‘Saturday Night’.  This song has obviously done well on iTunes and radio across the country. I sure hope he can follow it up with something that puts him firmly on the national stage, assuming that’s Bowen’s goal. Guess the money is better nationally  but beyond that the ‘shelf life’ can be short.  Just look at Pat Green and Jack Ingram!

ImageBefore moving on I’d like to speak for a moment about one of my favorite Bowen songs of late.  It’s called ‘Mood Ring’, and it’s been a favorite song since the first time I heard it performed by the writer of the song, Paul Thorn. I suggest if you don’t have it, go get it, both ways (Bowen and Thorn) and if you are not into music but you are into women then, by all means, go buy it.  It provides great advice for dealing the woman in your life…you’ll understand  more after you listen to it!  Besides all the great music from Bowen, I have met him and gotten to know him a little.  He is a genuinely nice guy ,a family man, gives back to the community.

I really don’t have much to say about the next artist to perform to the near 8K crowd other than I don’t think they came to just see her. Jana Kramer, actor/singer, God love her, is very cute and has all the gestures for the big stage. She has all those moves and they seem so well rehearsed that they just looked phony and uninspired to me. They were probably necessary as she needed to do something with her hands given she didn’t play the guitar.

Her single ‘Why You Wanna’ did get a nice reaction from the crowd. I am guessing that she is on Dierks Bentley’s record label and was sent out with him with the hope that his fans and audience members will take suction on her.  I will be surprised if Texas does.   I suggest Jana not give up her acting career but with role models like Jessica Simpson,  Rebecca Black, and Victoria Justice, I guess I understand why she is making a run at music,  But good grief, could we just maybe start with some raw talent?

Speaking of raw talent next up was the ‘done’ half of Brooks and Dunn. Come on Ronnie. I was so underwhelmed by your last two performances at  Rodeo Houston when you looked liked you were not there and/or stoned and then you come out and tour as a solo act and give us a major dose of BSthis evening!!!!

You are a very talented artist and I so very much wanted to write something nice regarding your show and then you go and do something stupid and ruin it for me/us. You leave the stage 40 minutes early and don’t do one of your best B&D songs, ‘Neon Moon’?  And it was on your set list.  And THEN you don’t perform your first solo career single, ‘We All Bleed Red’?! It’s REALLY hard to figure.  These people paid good money to come to the show and you give them a half ass performance…something isn’t right.

My suggestion is ..IF YOU CANT GET IT RIGHT AND DO YOU JOB WITH ENTUSIASM THEN STOP TOURING AND JUST TRY TO SELL RECORDS…  please/thanks. By the way I did like the new tattoo…AND it’s okay to have a midlife crisis late.  Maybe it means you are going to live a long time?  Just please stop touring or give us your best effort!

ImageAt this point it seems anticlimactic to even speak of Dierks Bentley’s set.  He was the headliner and hands down the must enjoyable to photograph.  There was lots of movement around the stage and terrific stage lighting! His slim and, according to my wife, handsome figure, curly locks, and enthusiastic approach to entertaining  were all appealing apparently too many of the boot scootin’ ladies in attendance. For sure his focus for the evening was THE WOMEN. I bet they pay most of the bills in the Bentley household.  Only fitting since, as he shared while introducing ‘Let’s Make Some Memories Here Tonight’, his household is made up of a wife and two young daughters! His biggest memory of this particular evening may by having to scramble around to start his show early because Ronnie ‘Done’ bolted early.

Dierks did make a nice comment about Mr. Done, though in judging the lukewarm reaction of the audience, it fell on their collective deaf ears.

So, I get what Dierks Bentley puts out there.  I get what he does however, I try every time I see him to get into  his music but just walk away wondering what’s  ‘the appeal’? Okay, maybe I do know the answer but it doesn’t work for me.  If it works for you, well God bless you and GOD BLESS THE NASHVILLE SOUND…whatever it has come to be…

Until next time, I look forward to seeing you down the road and hope you’re keep  it between the navigational beacons!