Attention country music artists: If you sign up to tour with Dierks Bentley, you really have to be ready for anything!
Just ask Kip Moore, Canaan Smith and Maddie & Tae, Bentley’s openers for his 2015 Sounds of Summer tour. They all found that out the hard way – or rather, the cold way – when Bentley, 39, made them jump into the freezing cold waters of Nashville’s Percy Priest Lake on Jan. 4.
“It was definitely an icebreaker because we practically broke some ice,” jokes Bentley. “If I had seen a small iceberg floating by I would not have been surprised!”
While the Polar Plunge is an annual new year tradition for the singer, this marks the first time he’s recruited his tourmates.
“We don’t start touring until the summer, but to already have had this bonding experience is pretty cool,” says Bentley, who kept his fellow musicians in the dark about his plans. “I just told them, ‘Hey, we’re headed out on a tour called Sounds of Summer, and to get in summer mode, I thought we’d meet at one of my favorite places and pretend like it’s summer time,'” he says, though his opening acts are no fools.
“They were all suspicious from the beginning,” says Bentley. “They know I do the lake jump every year, but they all went along with it. It was Sounds of Summer boot camp and they all know what they’re in for now!”
Luckily, everyone survived!
“I was kind of concerned to tell you the truth. We started driving out and I was like, ‘This is always a bad idea, but someone might actually get hurt this time,'” says Bentley, who in the past has only jumped into the lake from the shore, not from a boat into the middle of the lake. “I was especially concerned after I jumped in and realized there was a strong current blowing the boat away from me. But everyone was able to get back on the boat safely and I haven’t heard any complaints of pneumonia or anything, so I think we’re good. The legal department is happy.”
Though from the looks of it, not everybody was so happy to dip into the frigid water. “Kip was a little hesitant about it!” says Bentley. “I was surprised with him being a big surfer and all, you would think he would have no problem jumping into cold water, but I guess he’s a warm-water surfer! I thought by the end he was going to take a swing at me!”
Thankfully there will only be swinging good times on this tour. Bentley says in addition to being great performers, his opening acts need to know how to have a good time off-stage as well.
“A tour can really be depressing if you’re not having fun. So I got some guys and girls that are going to make it really fun. I like to get out there and tailgate and mess with the fans a little bit before the show, and after the show play a little music or drink a little too much,” says Bentley, who is also one of the headliners this summer for New York City’s first country festival.
“When there’s fun backstage it translates to the show and the crowd can feel it. If we don’t go out there and make this show the best it can be, it’s all a big waste of time for everybody.”