Nineties country music nostalgia has reached its peak with the announcement that Hot Country Knights, a faux band fronted by a costumed Dierks Bentley, has signed a record deal with Universal Music Group’s Nashville division.
Bentley, who also releases his solo albums through UMG Nashville, started playing one-off gigs with the group in 2015 and masquerades as Douglas “Doug” Douglason, a showboating, ill-tempered former adult film actor who longs for the days when Joe Diffie ruled the country charts. Joining Bentley are members of his live band, each with his own alias and elaborate backstory: Trevor Travis, Marty “Rayro” Ray Roburn, Terotej “Terry” Dvoraczekynski, Barry Van Ricky, Monte Montgomery. The group’s sporadic live appearances to date have frequently included guest appearances by fellow artists like Jon Pardi, Miranda Lambert, and Thomas Rhett, singing some of the Nineties’ best-loved songs.
A new video shows the group barging into a conference room meeting at UMG and demanding to be signed. “Alright, should we sign these guys?” asks label president Mike Dungan, to a chorus of enthusiastic yeahs, for what is likely the easiest label courtship of all time. From there, the group brings its anarchic energy to every corner of the office, absconding with telephones and ACM Awards, scarfing down chicken wings, and introducing double entendre-laced original songs with titles like “You Make It Hard” as if they’ve never witnessed Midland during any public appearance. The group currently has a pair of live shows set for February 14th and 15th at the Chelsea in Las Vegas, Nevada.
When not dressed in Oakley shades and neon windbreaker, Bentley is a celebrated performer who just notched his 19th career country radio Number One song with “Living.” That song appears on Bentley’s 2018 album The Mountain, which also features the hits “Woman, Amen” and “Burning Man.”