Dierks Bentley isn’t afraid to admit he’s “not a huge foodie,” but he can “make a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
“I mean I am good,” the “Woman, Amen” singer tells PEOPLE. “I can make three in under 30 seconds — evenly spread the peanut butter and jelly. I do that professionally as a father for my kids.”
The father of three — daughters Evie, 9 and Jordan, 7, and son Knox, 4 — says despite owning a new restaurant in Nashville called Whiskey Row, he doesn’t cook much in his own house beyond PB&J, spaghetti and microwavable pizza, which makes up about 80 percent of his diet.
Although the “I Hold On” singer does own the tools for cooking, like a Big Green Egg Barbecue Cooker (“It’s a little moldy inside there,” he jokes), he prefers not to put that much effort into his meals. The star used to “go crazy” with White Castle and Taco Bell, but says he no longer eats fast food.
The 42-year-old country star moved to Nashville 25 years ago, and, in true southern fashion, raves over barbecue. The “Drunk on a Plane” singer, who has often found himself swept up watching barbecue cook-offs and documentaries, says his go-to plate is full of barbecue ribs from Martin’s Bar-B-Que in Nashville.
However, as an Arizona native, Bentley grew up on Mexican food, and he still loves a good bean burrito.
“Mexican food you can eat it three times a day,” he says. “At least I can where I’m from.”
Honestly, though, Bentley admits he’s more of a “liquid diet person.” He recently partnered with Pepsi on their Pepsi Generations Summer Campaign. The commercial highlights the summer collection of Pepsi Stuff, which includes gear, fridges, and even tickets to meet the country star himself. As part of the campaign, he followed in the footsteps of musical legends like Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Ray Charles, and for Bentley, joining these stars was “a big culture moment,” not only for him, but for the entire genre of country music.
“Country music really is the music of summer,” Bentley says. “I don’t know why that is or how that started. I think it’s just that it’s a really fun genre of music. It’s generational music. You’ve got everyone from 8 to 80 out there in a crowd. I tell my guys in the band before we walk on stage to do that huddle, and that feeling you have just before you walk on stage is something you can’t replace with any amount of money. To get out there and hear the crowd singing along with the song that you wrote means the world because they’ve had to listen to that song a lot to memorize those lyrics.”
“I just love the feeling of community that comes from a country concert,” he adds. “The walls that get broken down, and the joy that gets created, there’s just nothing like it.”
Because Bentley is touring for most of the summer months, he tries to find ways to keep himself busy — almost all of which involve being outside. During every show, he brings along a Jeep behind the bus, and “about every toy you can imagine,” including an inflatable boat, mountain bikes, fishing poles, bowling balls, and a hockey bag.
“When I’m not on the road, which is rare, I’m on the lake,” Bentley says. “I got a boat and I’m just getting out there with some friends and just staying out watching the sun go down. There’s just nothing like being on the water, so that’s my favorite thing. In Tennessee, my favorite spot might be in the mountains somewhere, but it’s hard to do right now, with scheduling. Anything outdoors. That’s good for me.”
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The singer was close with his father Leon, who died in 2012, and remembers his dad instilling that love of nature in him. On his Riser album, Bentley got personal, with many of his lyrics focusing on his grieving process and their father-son relationship.
“My favorite family traditions were just traveling — seeing the country,” Bentley said. “We had a 1971 Suburban, and my dad had two extra gas tanks welded into the side of the fender. We traveled a lot in the Southwest, going to lakes and camping. For me, a family tradition is just being outdoors and just living life and being adventurous.
“My sister had a big impact on me as well,” Bentley adds. “She loved live music, so just going to live concerts in the summer was one of my favorite memories. Whether it was U2 or Billy Idol or Madonna, or a lot of country bands for me later on — including Hank [Williams] Jr. and Garth Brooks — live music’s always been a big part of our family too.”
“I have three kids and I think a lot about trying to set them up for success as far as values and morals and traditions we have,” he says. “For me the love of outdoors and nature are obvious, but it’s just as important for me to find ways to get involved with and give back to the community and do things with my family.”
The “Black” singer says he often takes his family down to food bank Second Harvest to pack lunch boxes and backpacks for underprivileged kids. “I’m just trying to raise some good kids,” he says.
Often, his kids will join him on the road, which has forced them to adopt what Bentley refers to as the “Wolf Mentality.”
“You’ve gotta eat what you can and just be happy with what you get,” he says.
As for what Bentley craves while on the road?
“Funnel cakes,” he says with a laugh. “Can’t find those when I tour. That’s a state fair special.”
Despite his cravings, the singer admits he’s not super picky when it comes to meals.
“Food and beverages are all about community — about sharing it with friends and family,” he says. “”I can get by on just about anything as long as I have good company to break bread with, and I’m lucky to have that in my band and in my crew.”