On a night where Garth Brooks was playing a small yet passionate club show across town, a pair of dad jeans and some ratty wigs was the hottest ticket in Nashville. To kick off Country Radio Seminar week, the annual gathering of radio execs and programmers in Music City, Dierks Bentley assembled a go-for-broke band to cover some of the Nineties biggest — and often cheesiest — hits at downtown honky-tonk the Stage. Under the moniker Hot Country Knights, Bentley and his crew went for it hard, not only donning loud shirts and unflattering denim, but adopting personas each with their own backstory.
And the surprise guests were many. Randy Houser, as “Dallas Houston,” showed up in a John Anderson wig to sing “Watermelon Crawl” and “Too Cold at Home,” Lady Antebellum‘s Charles Kelley lampooned Ronnie Dunn as “Ronnie Buns,” holding an epic note on “My Maria,” and Miranda Lambert appeared as “Shelby Shelton” to belt out Shania Twain’s “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under.” (Watch a video of Lambert’s performance above, and Kelley’s below.)
Kip Moore, regrettably not in a Nineties costume, also showed up, singing David Lee Murphy’s “Dust on the Bottle,” while Brothers Osborne‘s T.J. Osborne joined sibling John — a member of Bentley’s Knights — for a duet.
Despite all the guest stars, it was Bentley who owned the stage. Whether gyrating with his guitar, glaring at rival band members or just mugging for the crowd, the Grammy-nominated singer fully lost himself in his character, the repetitiously named “Douglas ‘Big Rhythm Doug’ Douglason.” His most inspired gag, however, involved a box fan and a Slash-haired guitar player.
For Bentley, the Hot Country Knights were his country Spinal Tap. And he shamelessly turned it up to 11.