Even though he hasn’t been able to interact with his fans on the road during the pandemic, Dierks Bentley has still found a way to keep them entertained and give back to the community. On Thursday, September 10, Bentley headlined the second installment of the “Tito’s Made to Order” virtual music festival with a live performance streamed via the internet. Tito’s Handmade Vodka is a perennial sponsor of music tours and was looking for a way to connect with local communities and give back to important non-profit organizations.
“Music and festivals are a big part of our culture at Tito’s,” said Taylor Berry, VP of Marketing at Tito’s Handmade Vodka. “So in their absence this year, we developed Tito’s Made to Order to celebrate the many cultures that make up the music and culinary scenes in America and their ability to connect, empower and unite communities across the country.”
The festival has been divided into four regions with performances from August to October. Dierks was joined on the bill for the Southern edition by Bun B and Morgan Wallen for the show that also featured chefs and bartenders speaking about the importance of supporting the hospitality industry during these difficult times.
With that issue in mind, Tito’s dedicated proceeds from the Southern show to World Central Kitchen, an organization founded by world famous chef José Andrés known for mobilizing food aid in areas affected by natural disasters and for setting up kitchens to quickly feed the victims of the events, For example, in the months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2018, World Central Kitchen served almost four million meals to the residents of the island.
During the COVID crisis, WCK has switched their focus to feed first line health and safety workers as well as restaurant and bar workers displaced by the pandemic, as well as their families. Working in in partnership with thousands of restaurants and volunteers, WCK has served 25 million meals since the start of the pandemic.
Along with their donation, Tito’s encouraged viewers to give what they could via a donation link during the show. Viewers who make a donation will be entered to win a virtual meet-and-greet with a Tito’s Made to Order headliner, festival posters signed by the artists and Tito’s merchandise. You can still catch a recording of the entire show here and still make a contribution to this worthy cause.
Dierks presented a casual set of some of his greatest hits on acoustic guitar accompanied by his friend Warren on banjo and guitar as they sat on a wooden deck in Telluride with a magnificent vista of the Colorado mountains as the backdrop. Although Dierks missed touring and commented that he really needed a haircut, he seemed to enjoy the opportunity to play for his fans again.
We caught up with him before the performance to see what he’s been up to.
Sounds Like Nashville: How have you been spending your pandemic time?
Dierks Bentley: I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family out in Colorado. This time has been all about focusing on the things like music and kids until we can get back out on the road again. I can’t wait to be with the band and crew again, but for right now I am definitely making the most of the time at home.
SLN: Are you looking forward to this virtual performance, and how does playing this way feel different from a live show?
DB: It’s totally different from being on stage for a show… I’ll be bringing fans virtually to Telluride with me instead of going to them, but the way Tito’s has set it up and let us each make it a show unique to us, will make it interesting to watch. I’m looking forward to a chance to play live music and be part of connecting with our fans.
SLN: What’s the story behind your connection with Tito’s?
DB: When Tito’s approached me about their Made to Order festival, it sounded like a really great way to be part of something that not only included live music in an interesting way for the fans tuning in, but also supports the restaurant and healthcare communities. It was easy to sign on to be part of something like that.
SLN: Please talk a bit about why you’re excited to be doing this to help benefit World Central Kitchen and the important work they have done to help those affected by natural disasters and the pandemic.
DB: I actually first heard about World Central Kitchen watching an episode of 60 Minutes, so I already knew about their mission when Tito’s approached me. It’s important to do our part to support our healthcare workers, help keep vulnerable children and families fed and create jobs for the restaurant community right now, and we’ll all be doing that together.