Often after a great concert, fans compare the event they just witnessed to the last great show they attended. For Dierks Bentley fans who attended his surprise concert in Knoxville this past Sunday night, there is no comparison. The surprise show was hosted by CMT and is scheduled to air on CMT, May 28th, 2016.


Media outlets made reference to the show as a free concert. It was much more than that. It was an event so great, so magical, and so perfect, that it became a moment. In twenty years attendees will be talking with their best friend about how great the night was while watching Dierks Bentley accept a Lifetime Achievement Award.


A great concert has an arc. It is when the artist feeds off the energy of the fans, and the fans feed off the energy of the artist. It’s when that third sense kicks in and we all feel the music. Suddenly, the artist, the fans and the music become one and the artist dives off stage into the sea of fans hoisting their hero.


That moment when music becomes a universal energy contained within a small room describes what happened Sunday night. Mr. Bentley knew the night was special. In a heartfelt message to the crowd of passionate fans, he stated on three different occasions the uniqueness of the crowd, the moment and the show.


In one of the most personal moments, Mr. Bentley whispered to his band before turning back around to announce, “Normally this is where we go backstage, and the fans cheer for an encore, and we go back and forth. If it is ok with you, we are not going to do that. This night has been so amazing, that we are just going to keep playing.”


Mr. Bentley described the night as one he will never forget and certainly the crowd won’t either.

I consider the irony of the entire event. In coming months, fans will gather at CMAfest or Bonnaroo, and spend hundreds to thousands of dollars, hoping to connect with the music. The Knoxville concert was free, but the experience was priceless.


Dan Andrews Reporting.


About the author:

Daniel Andrews is a photojournalist for the Knoxville Focus and also a voting member of both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.