Douglas “Doug” Douglason, bass player Trevor Travis, guitarist Marty Ray (“Rayro”) Roburn, keytarist/fiddle player Terotej (“Terry”) Dvoraczekynski, steel guitar player Barry Van Ricky and percussionist Monte Montgomery are now all major label artists—these of course being the principle members of 90’s throwback band Hot Country Knights, which if you’ve been living under a rock since the Clinton Administration, is the alter ego of Dierks Bentley and his touring band.
Without breaking character, the band waltzed inside the offices of Universal Music Group Nashville earlier this week, and signed a deal with UMG Nashville President Cindy Mabe, and UMG Nashville Chairman/CEO Mike Dungan to release a new album. First debuted at the Country Radio Seminar in 2015, Douglas Douglason and Hot Country Knights specialize in cover songs from folks like Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, and Tracy Lawrence. They’ve made random appearances at Dierks Bentley’s shows, as well as his Colorado-based festival. Whether the new album will be covers, or 90’s inspired country, complete parody or something serious mixed in, we’ll just have to see.
Watching Hot Country Knights crash the UMG offices is pretty funny (see below), including UMG Nashville CEO Mike Dungan shouting out, “Let’s take back country music!” But the press release copy paralleling the announcement is a pretty big hoot too. “The Knights are promising to bring real ’90s country music back to a format that’s been drowning in male sensitivity, cashmere cardigan sweaters and programmed drum loops,” reads a portion of the press release—funny because it’s also patently true.
Douglas (“Doug”) Douglason quoted later in the press release as saying, “Some artists out there tried to put the ‘O’ back in country, that was a thing for a while…. but what it’s really missing is the ‘T.’ Country music has Low-T right now…it could use a pick me up, if you know what I mean. Those record label people over at Universal finally realized that only the Knights could be up to a task this big and hard.”
Okay, we probably could have done without those visuals, but if nothing else, it proves Dierks Bentley is committed to the bit. It also proves that when he wants to be, Dierks Bentley can be one of the most entertaining, and down-to-earth folks in the mainstream. Talk about male sensitivity and programmed drum loops, that pretty much sums up his 2016 album Black. But the release of his 2010 bluegrass-inspired album Up On The Ridge, and even 2018’s The Mountain, Dierks proved he takes his love for country music to heart, even if he’s not always allowed to express it.
In all seriousness, 90’s country is pretty hot right now, and a hell of a lot better than the modern mainstream alternative. Whether a silly album of covers, or some cool original songs done in the style of 90’s country, or both, the major label debut of Douglas Douglason and Hot Country Knights is something to look forward to in 2020.