Seven Peaks Festival Reflects Dierks Bentley’s Commitment to Genre and Gender Diversity
On Friday (Aug. 30), Dierks Bentley will welcome fans to Buena Vista, Colo., for his second annual Seven Peaks Festival. Events giant Live Nation is the country star's partner in the three-day affair, but as Brian O'Connell, the company's president of country touring, tells Pollstar, the festival wouldn't exist without Bentley.
From the lineup to the location, Seven Peaks is Bentley's event through and through. During the inaugural festival in 2018, he could be found not just onstage as a headliner and collaborator but throughout the festival grounds, enjoying the pop-up community he'd created as curator. In 2019, the event's lineup reflects Bentley's commitment to diversity, in terms of both genre and gender.
A noted bluegrass music fan who hung out at the Station Inn when he first moved to Nashville and enjoys attending the Telluride Bluegrass Festival as a fan, Bentley has made sure that Seven Peaks' lineup features not only mainstream country but also acts who fall a little left of center, too. Grammy-winning bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers, Foo Fighter-turned-alt-country artist Chris Shiflett and singer-songwriter Kendell Marvel mingle with Maren Morris and Luke Bryan on Saturday's (Aug. 31) lineup. Sunday's (Sept. 1) bill, meanwhile, features the legendary Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the genre-defying duo the War and Treaty, sister duo Larkin Poe, Colorado bluegrass band Rapidgrass and more before Bentley closes things out.
“Dierks is my new favorite dude. He is about as rad as they come. I was blown away by how tangible he was, not only to his audience and fans, but also to each and every musician that he had there," Rapidgrass member Coleman Smith told the Chaffee County Times after playing Seven Peaks in 2018. "Every time I turned around, he was thanking somebody, welcoming somebody, or he was onstage joining us for both sets, and I saw him doing numerous appearances with some of my favorite musicians in the world."
Bentley's 2019 Burning Man Tour is one of the year's few male-headlined treks to feature a woman on the bill, and Seven Peaks follows suit: Its lineup is one-third solo women or bands featuring women, including Deana Carter and Burning Man Tour openers Caylee Hammack and Tenille Townes.
"It's an incredible feeling, to have somebody like that believe in you at the beginning of this path, and take a chance at bringing me out on the road for this entire tour," Townes, who performed with Bentley each night in addition to playing her own set, told The Boot earlier this summer. "He's gone the extra mile, in so many ways."
According to a Pitchfork study of 19 multi-genre music festivals -- including Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Coachella and the bluegrass- and folk-leaning Pickathon -- 2018's bills featured 30 percent female solo artists or groups with at least one female or non-binary member. For country-specific comparison, the 2019 Stagecoach Festival's lineup was 27 percent women, while Chicago's Country LakeShake Festival, which featured one day of all female artists, had a lineup that was 39 percent women in 2019.
"For me, it's important to do what I can to bring some attention to artists I believe in. In some ways, it’s conscious that I support the women in our genre," Bentley -- who was recently stanning for the Highwoman in a goofy video -- told The Boot via e-mail, "but in a lot of ways, it’s a no-brainer, because I am just a huge fan of artists like Tenille Townes and Caylee Hammack, who are both part of the tour and at the festival this year.
"Women in country music are not only one of the richest parts of our history, but making sure they continue to succeed is critical to the future and legacy of music," adds Bentley, who has featured, among others, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves and Brandi Carlile, on his albums. "I learn every day from women past and present in my life … It only makes us all better to be sure they continue to win in music too."
Deana Carter, Kendell Marvel and Rapidgrass will be taking The Boot's readers behind the scenes of the 2019 Seven Peaks Festival via Instagram Stories takeovers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Follow The Boot on Instagram to catch all the action.
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