“If nobody else comes, I’m going to have fun,” Bentley tells PEOPLE. “That’s the goal — just me having fun and doing something really personal that has meaning for me.”
That’s why the “Burning Man” singer decided to return to Colorado — where he recorded his last studio album The Mountain — and host a music festival in the middle of the Rockies. “Selfishly, I set it there just because it gives me another excuse to go back to one of my favorite states in the country,” he admits.
However, in planning the inaugural festival, Bentley was everything but selfish. His fans were the priority when he was considering a campground that could fit his fans’ campers and cars (“some of these fans are going to drive the biggest vehicle they can find”), the stage design, and the musical lineup, which includes a kickoff ’90s night featuring headliner Clint Black and a special performance from Bentley’s cover band Hot Country Knights.
“When you’re making a festival that has your name on it you definitely want to include all those elements that make it your own, so having a ’90s night is right up my alley—very me, very my band,” Bentley says. “It’s wild what’s going on with that genre of music. We’ll throw a few of those songs into our set and you’ve got kids — 16, 17 year-olds — that are singing along to these songs that were made before they were born. There’s definitely a resurgence in that area of country music and we’re really excited to be the only festival that has a designated night for that genre.”
Alongside ’90s night on Friday, Aug. 31, Miranda Lambert‘s scheduled headlining performance on Saturday with Brothers Osborne among the openers, and Bentley’s closeout show on Sunday night, he also wanted to give fans multiple stages where they could enjoy music. The beach stage (complete with a lifeguard chair, sand and a lake in the middle of the campground) will be manned by a DJ and references the summertime vibes that go hand-in-hand with country music. The Whiskey Row stage, named after his franchise bar and restaurant, will feature upcoming artists and bluegrass musicians, which Bentley exclusively tells PEOPLE is the “lifeblood of the genre.”
That stage will feature acts Abby Anderson, Boy Named Banjo, Brown & Gray, Cody Canada, Dillon Carmichael, Travis Denning, Walker McGuire, Mipso and Rapidgrass.
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Bentley was so invested in the fan experience of the festival he wanted to make sure there was easy access to sunblock, water and ice, and even went so far as to make sure there were more female port-a-potties than men’s because he “didn’t want to see girls waiting in line.”
“When you make a record your attention to detail isn’t so much for the fans sometimes. It’s more for you, just so you can sleep at night knowing that you gave it all you had,” Bentley says. “Whether that’s the type of fonts you’re using on your credits, the way you say thank you, how you list your name as a songwriter on a song. I list my name last—just these little details matter to me. It’s the same with this festival.”
Even though choosing a venue in Buena Vista, Colorado, held a personal tie, Bentley admits he also made the decision with the fans in mind because there are so many activities people can enjoy during the day, including biking, hiking and rafting.
“If I had to describe my best day it would be being outside,” Bentley says. “I’m curious to see how I’m going to hold up because I’m planning on doing all the stuff during the day and then jumping up on a lot of the stages, including the Whiskey Row stage. I also wanna jam and hang out with the campers at the campground and try to get some sort of festival jam session tradition started.”
But Bentley is no stranger to making the most of his life on the road. In late July, he went mountain climbing in Wyoming the same day he had a show in Boise, Idaho, and then flew to Palm Springs, California after his performance.
“It’s going to be an adventure for me on many levels — a marathon of sorts — but you know, I am not afraid to pack it all in,” Bentley tells PEOPLE.
As for what to bring to Seven Peaks over Labor Day weekend? All Bentley suggests is “positive vibes and an attitude where you’re open to having a lot of fun. Oh, and beer and ice are essential items.”
“This isn’t about making money,” Bentley says. “This is about trying to create a really genuine, authentic, awesome experience for the fans.”
Tickets for the Seven Peaks music festival are available here.