DIERKS BENTLEY ’ S BEERS ON ME TOUR AT BOSTON ’ S XFINITY CENTER AMPHITHEATER
CANADIAN-MADE SOUND & MODERN VERSATILITY ON
DIERKS BENTLEY ’ S BEERS ON ME TOUR
By Manus Hopkins Photos by Zachary Belcher
Much of Dierks Bentley ’ s touring crew has been together for many years . 2005 was both the year that Bentley released his sophomore album , Modern Day Drifter , and the year that FOH Engineer and Systems Tech James “ Pugs ” McDermott was first invited to join the rising country star ’ s crew .
“ I got a call , wanting to know if I wanted to do it . Somebody asked me , ‘ Have you ever heard of Dierks Bentley ?’” he tells Professional Sound . “ I ’ d never heard of him before . I never really paid a whole lot of attention to country music at that point in my life — earlier in the ‘ 90s , I did , because that ’ s what all the girls were listening to .”
Though he ’ s been working with Bentley for 17 years , McDermott hasn ’ t always been in his current role . When he was first brought on , it was as a monitor engineer , before he took over as stage manager and eventually as production manager . “ It was one of those situations where one day I was doing monitors and a week later I was at FOH ,” he says .
Now , as we chat in early July , Bentley is on the second leg of a North American trek dubbed the Beers on Me Tour , its name taken from his 2021 single in collaboration with Breland and HARDY . The tour mostly fits the bill of what the crew would classify as a “ shed tour ”— meaning most of its shows are in amphitheaters , but there are a few festival stops and other venue types along the three-month journey .
As such , flexibility is the key word in choosing the sound rig for a tour like this one . McDermott and his team ultimately ended up working with a system from Calgary-based PK Sound for many reasons .
McDermott recalls being on wintertime tour in Alberta a few years back and going to chec k out a PK rig for the first time at the behest of his lighting designer .
“ I was beat tired ,” he says . “ I wasn ’ t feeling very good , and I could really have just used a hot shower and a nap instead of going into the PK shop .”
During that visit to PK Sound headquarters , though , McDermott was able to meet CEO Jeremy Bridge and check out the Trinity robotic line source system and Gravity subwoofers , seeing the “ guts of the operation ” and how everything works . McDermott was then taken into what he describes as a “ dumpy , cinderblock , concrete room ” to listen to the rig — and , not realizing it was a deliberate decision , his first impression was that they could have found a better-sounding room to demo it in . Nonetheless , he was already interested .
26 PROFESSIONAL SOUND