Dierks Bentley Explains Why He Picked Morgan Wallen to Be His Co-Headliner at Seven Peaks 2022
Dierks Bentley has revealed the lineup of acts playing his 2022 Seven Peaks Festival this September, and at the very top of the list is Bentley's co-headliner, Morgan Wallen. Bentley and Wallen will each headline one night of the three-day event, with the third night being allocated to Seven Peaks' annual '90s party.
Bentley's decision to ask Wallen to co-headline his festival partially dates back to 2019, thanks to a memorable set from Hardy, who's playing Seven Peaks again this year, and is a close friend and collaborator of Wallen's.
"His show was so good," Bentley recalled during a recent press event. "[Watching him and Morgan] is kind of like [watching] Luke [Bryan] and [Jason] Aldean back in 2010. Those two guys together, their shows are an hour-long phenomenon, playing arenas for multiple nights in a row."
Wallen's superstar stage presence aside, Bentley points out, it was important for him to include a headliner who could help make Seven Peaks — his passion project — the best festival that it can be. 2022 is an especially crucial year for the event, which debuted in 2018 and had its second year in 2019 before halting for two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"When you have a festival in its infancy — year three would have really been a big year for us," the singer goes on to say. "Probably would have maybe broke even. But it wasn't even about the money — it was [about] getting to be something people wanted to come back to, to start to be self-sustaining.
"To lose two years back to back, it's hard," Bentley admits. "I honestly wasn't sure if we'd get another shot to do this festival, because of that and having to change locations. But it's just a super important festival to me. It's one of my favorite things of everything I've done. I hope it carries on long after I'm gone. I love this whole concept of the Colorado-based country festival that has this feel, and different kinds of music. And it only works if you have a guy or girl the night opposite of me that can carry the weight."
Enter Wallen: A red-hot hitmaker with such a voracious fanbase that his 2022 Dangerous Tour all but sold out before the shows even began. "Morgan is one of the biggest stars out there in country music right now, drawing the most folks ever out there," Bentley acknowledges.
"I love his music," he goes on to say. "I love what Joey Moi is doing as a producer on his music. It just has a very country feel to it. The instrumentation is beautiful, and of course, great songwriting."
Wallen's undoubtedly on a hot streak right now, and he's an in-demand headliner. He's also headlining this year's Watershed Festival, Faster Horses Festival, Country Thunder Wisconsin and TidalWave Music Festival, to name a few, plus he recently announced his first-ever headlining stadium gig.
It's worth noting that Wallen's arc towards superstardom remains controversial; many believe that he hasn't adequately faced the consequences of his racist slur scandal from February 2021, where he was caught on late-night doorcam video yelling the N-word as he said goodnight to a car full of friends. Wallen did fulfill a promise to donate $500,000 to Black-led organizations, but many fans, artists and industry members objected to his return to the Grand Ole Opry stage in January 2022.
Though Wallen was benched by the country music industry for the bulk of 2021, his fanbase certainly didn't forget about him — on the contrary, his at-the-time just-released Dangerous: The Double Album kept its place atop the Billboard album charts for a whopping 10 weeks, making it the all-genre top album of 2021.
In addition to headlining sets from Bentley and Wallen, the 2022 Seven Peaks Festival will include performances by the likes of Jordan Davis, Ashley McBryde, Lainey Wilson and Travis Denning. The '90s contingent — a core element of Seven Peaks — is well represented by Tracy Lawrence, Pam Tillis and the Hot Country Knights. Meanwhile, blending mainstream country with bluegrass has always been a major part of the festival, and Old Crow Medicine Show, Rapidgrass and Boy Named Banjo are among the Americana and bluegrass acts stepping in to represent that segment of the genre.
More performers are expected to be added to the Seven Peaks bill. The festival will take place Sept. 2-4 in Villa Grove, Colo. Tickets go on sale beginning April 22.