The skies were friendly for Dierks Bentley last weekend when he piloted himself into Detroit for the annual Downtown Hoedown. After about a 2-1/2 hour flight in a rented single-engine Cirrus, he arrived safely to talk backstage with WYCD personality Steve Grunwald.

“It’s nice to get up there and clear your head,” he says, “I enjoy it.”

As country fans know, Dierks’ father passed away earlier this month. His performance in Detroit this past Saturday marked the first since his loss.

Dierks, though, said he had been looking forward to getting back on stage. “I’ve been with him [his dad] for the last two weeks. It’s tough, there’s lots of waves of sadness – and gratitude as well. But I’ve known this show has kinda been in the background, it’s been a real source of happiness for me, because I love being onstage with the guys in the band. So it’s well-needed medicine. Between that and the fans and the cold beer, it’s gonna be a great night.”

 Dierks Bentley at Detroit's Downtown Hoedown

Dierks Bentley at Detroit’s Downtown Hoedown (Kurt Wolff/CBS Local)

Dierks says his father is the reason he’s performing country today.

“My dad loved country radio, loved all the old stuff, too. I grew up listening to country radio with my dad. I kind of veered off and listened to Van Halen and some other rock stuff between 13 and 17,” he admits. However, “Hank Jr. got me back into it. And when I was 17, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.”

Listen to the full Dierks Bentley interview on WYCD.

Dierks performed nearly two dozen songs from throughout his career during his Saturday night headlining set in Detroit, including a moving version of “My Last Name” that he dedicated to his father.

– Nanci Haskin/99.5 WYCD

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