By Lora Kaelber Special to Published Jul 25, 2015 at 10:56 AM

Wow. Like just wow. I can’t even. Dierks. Bentley. Was. Amazing.

Okay, before I go all nutty about Dierks Bentley’s concert in the Friday night headliner spot at Country Thunder in Twin Lakes, let me first say this: This is a man filled with deep respect and honor. In various ways throughout his hour and a half show, he found ways to point out the sacrifices made by our military. The biggest one was the shirt he wore: a shirt from the Springfield, Illinois Air Guard which said "Sound of Freedom."

Simple. Quiet. Understated. And powerfully loud in its message.

And really, when I think about Dierks Bentley, that’s what comes to mind: dedicated, thoughtful, emotional, energetic and loyal. His music is honest, real, sometimes painful, sometimes fun and always country.

He delivered all that and more on Friday night. Bentley has songs you listen to when your best friend moves three states away for college. It’s music you listen to when you lose someone close to you. It’s soulful. But Bentley’s music is also music you listen to when you need to dance fast, when you need to dance slow or when you just need to let go and let it all hang out. 

In short, he’s a super versatile artist. And he’s sexy. Really, really sexy. I can say that right?

I expected good things. I expected laid back. I expected confident. I expected dancing. I expected to feel refreshed and rejuvenated. And I did, I felt all those things, but I also felt ... whole.

That’s weird, right? Here’s the thing, though: Bentley and his band – along with surprise pop-ins at the end by Maddie & Tae and Jaren Johnston, the lead singer from Cadillac Three – so very, very clearly all love what they do, and they don’t take it for granted. And it shows in every song, in every detail and in every everything. His loyalty to our servicemen is just one example of that – the best one, but just one.

Tonight Bentley made sure we knew exactly where we were, and he made sure that we knew Twin Lakes wasn’t just another stop on his super aggressive Sounds of Summer Tour. He took Maddie & Tae out into the campgrounds Friday afternoon to hang out, to meet fans and to find some people to dress up as a commercial flight crew to wrap the show with his super hit "Drunk on a Plane." He let a little kid sing one of the choruses of "I Hold On." He kissed his biceps. He kissed his bandmate’s biceps. He took requests. He got the crowd chanting, "USA! USA! USA!"

He was one hundred percent committed to making sure his show was the best it could be AND the best of the festival.

Probably my favorite part of the show was the last song of his second encore, "Drunk On A Plane." And no, not because of the title. The song opened with a video of Bentley and his bandmates trying to Bo Duke style slide across the hood of some dinky, small blue car. They all were failing – miserably – until the REAL Bo Duke showed up in the General Lee.

Like for realsies? Yup. For realsies. Bo Duke did his famous slide across the hood on the General Lee and then told Bentley to do it. Bentley winds up to try his hand at sliding across the General Lee, and Bo Duke is all, "Dude, not on the General Lee, on the rental car." Maybe you had to be there, but it brought the house down. Then Dierks missed his opening mark for the song, and instead of trying to cover it, he owned it by changing the lyrics to: "Sh*t, I’m gettin’ drunk on the stage!"

It’s hard not to like Dierks Bentley. I mean, the guy left Phoenix when he was 19 and drove cross country with his dad to Nashville. How many 19-year-olds would spend that much time in the car with their dad? Plus, he refuses to get rid of the 1994 Chevy truck that brought them across the country (part of the subject of Bentley’s hit song "I Hold On").

Even better, Bentley stretches his wings with his latest album "Riser." The album is filled with powerful and emotional songs. The title track, a song about resilience, was written after Bentley lost his father.

The more you hear about him, the more you know that if you met Dierks Bentley on the street (and you weren’t a crazed, drooling lunatic), he’d be a nice guy and not the suffer-in-silence type either. He’d be genuine.

Bentley’s first number one single, "What Was I Thinkin’," came out in 2003. Since then, Bentley’s racked up two certified platinum albums and one certified gold album, plus 13 number one singles. He’s cemented himself as a country music mainstay. He remembers where he came from which makes him work hard at his craft.

And tonight, it paid dividends.

Set list:
"Am I the Only One"
"5 – 1 – 5 – 0"
"Tip It On Back"
"Every Mile a Memory"
"I Hold On"
"Feel that Fire"
"Sounds of Summer"
"Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do"
"Come a Little Closer"
"Back Porch"
"All Summer Long" (Kid Rock cover)
"Up On The Ridge"
"Free & Easy (Down the Road I Go)"

Encore 1
"Say You Do"

Encore 2
"What Was I Thinking"
"Drunk On A Plane"

Lora Kaelber Special to
Moving to Milwaukee in 1998, Lora quickly adapted to and embraced big city living. A graduate of Carthage College and Marquette University Law School, Lora clerked for the Hon. Diane Sykes at the Wisconsin Supreme Court, worked as a litigator in private practice, and most recently was employed as a development officer for the MACC Fund.

In all of her experiences, time was focused on writing which has been a passion since junior high school. A series of food service industry jobs both before and after law school taught her that bringing out the human side in any story is key to great storytelling and good writing.

A die-hard east side girl, you'll usually find Lora down by the lake or on the Oakleaf. She's an avid photographer, and sometimes storm chaser.

Hobbies include biking, gardening, cross country skiing, swimming, blogging, and of course working on her fictionalized autobiography--fictionalized, because whose life is really interesting enough to fill 400 pages?

She's in IMDb. Look her up.