Beth Gwinn, Getty Images
The pumped-up crowd was treated to appearances from the multi-award-winning Del McCoury Band, whose acoustic artistry was featured on Dierks' 2010 bluegrass outing, 'Up on the Ridge.' Also stepping up to join the headliner during what he promised would be a show unlike most that fans will see on the upcoming dates of his Country and Cold Cans tour was Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild, who duets with Dierks on a sexy ballad from 'Home' called 'When You Gonna Come Around.'
But for all the rollicking good-time tunes and the overall party vibe throughout the night, it was daddy Dierks who tugged on the heartstrings when he called 3-year-old daughter Evie to the stage to help out with the vocals on 'Thinking of You,' the closing tune on 'Home' which features the elder of his two girls. When it was time for her Ryman debut, Evie walked to the stage like a seasoned pro (to a roomful of "awww"s) took a seat at her dad's side and began singing along. She then soloed on the chorus, but with a few gentle pokes encouraged her proud papa to sing along. Watch the video of their adorable duet below.
"That's a tough act to follow tonight," Dierks said after little Evie walked off stage. "Del McCoury, Evie. But that's home. We're in the home of country music, the Mother Church of Country Music, you guys are home, the fans who traveled to be here are home, and this is home."
With that, Dierks delivered the album's current single. A perfect companion to 'Thinking of You,' which is at its core a tender love letter to his wife and two daughters, 'Home' is a love letter to the American people and their indomitable spirit.
Although he encored with 'What Was I Thinkin',' and peppered the show with tunes from Hank Williams ('Your Cheatin' Heart,' which segued -- naturally -- into 'How Am I Doin'' and 'I Saw the Light,' which closed the show and was delivered without any amplification), Waylon Jennings, U2 and Pink Floyd, there's no mistaking this was Dierks Bentley's night.
And, what about the well-worn wooden floor? No worries, since Dierks noted that after his show and this weekend's Grand Ole Opry performances, the floor is being replaced for the first time in 61 years. The rafters, however, will continue to ring with the memory of once-in-a-lifetime moments like the one the audience witnessed Thursday night.
'Home' hits stores on Tuesday, Feb. 7. Look for our exclusive interview with Dierks that day as well!