Mixing music and motorcycles sounded like a great idea for Dierks Bentley when he held his first Miles & Music charity event six years ago in Nashville. And he was certainly right. Today, the combination of two of his favorite things has raised $1.6 million for children's hospitals around the country.

"It's been a great event, and we're looking forward to this weekend," Dierks tells The Boot. His sixth annual event in Nashville will be held Sunday, Oct. 16, with the hour-long ride getting underway at the Harley-Davidson dealership in Columbia, Tenn. The final destination is Riverfront Park, which backs up to the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville. There, Dierks will be joined by Eli Young Band, Josh Thompson and Colt Ford for a concert that is known for its spontaneity.

"I'm always surprised at the people who come out to help me with the ride and show," Dierks says. "Obviously me alone would not be the biggest draw, so I need friends who ride motorcycles and friends who sing, and friends who are willing to sacrifice their time on Sunday afternoon for a good cause. It means a lot to me that they take their personal time to be part of this deal. It's always a different vibe musically, more of a jam than a concert. I think that's what fans love about it -- there's no huge production, just friendly family fun."

Dierks took the benefit outside of Nashville this past year, thanks in part to CMT One Country, the Children's Miracle Network and Nationwide Insurance, holding rides in Chicago, Phoenix, Dallas, Seattle and Columbus, Ohio. "It's not as easy to do this in other cities, because you have to find artists who will play for free in those towns. I'm always amazed at how gracious people are with their time," Dierks says.

"I really have to give credit to the people behind the scenes who make it happen," continues the 'Am I the Only One' singer. "Finding a dealership and getting together the motorcycle riders is a huge aspect of the event, then coordinating with the police to make sure the route works for everyone. It's a lot of work, but we have raised a lot of money for hospitals around the country."

The most recent ride, in the Windy City, raised over $144,000 for Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital. Dierks is elated with his fans' generosity ... fans who've also become friends.

"By the end of the day, the people who join the ride will have ridden their motorcycle next to someone in the business, and then later they have a chance to hear them sing," he says. "It was just a way to mix my two favorite things and make some money for the children who need our help."

When Dierks started the annual ride, he and his wife, Cassidy, did not have children. Their first, Evie, was born on the eve of his Miles & Music in 2008, and Dierks showed up to hand out cigars and ride and sing for the cause. A second daughter, Jordan, joined the Bentley clan two years later.

"When you have kids it really makes you think about what could happen with them," the singer says. "Our girls are healthy and happy, but I know there are parents out there who are not so lucky. I am just happy to be able to raise some money so hopefully they can worry a little less and spend a little more time with their son or daughter."

Tickets for this weekend's event, which are $50 per person for the ride, concert and a commemorative T-shirt, can be purchased through Ticketmaster. Concert tickets are $20.