As fans and tourists watched, Dierks Bentley lead over 1200 motorcycles and riders down Broadway during his fifth annual “Miles & Music for Kids” ride as they pulled into Nashville’s Riverfront Park. The festivities continued when 5000 fans packed the Riverfront for a jam-style concert featuring Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, Del McCoury, Heidi Newfield, Jerrod Niemann, Mat Kearney and Laura Bell Bundy. This year’s event drew more riders and concert attendees than ever before, raising an astounding $250,990.62 including $10,000 from a guitar auctioned onstage. for Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. The “Miles & Music for Kids” series has raised over $1.5 million for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals in Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta and Seattle.
Going into this event, Miles & Music For Kids had brought in $1.2 million through Bentley’s fundraisers. When a close friend's child needed treatment at the Vanderbilt facility, Bentley became involved. At the time, the singer did not have kids of his own, but now has a daughter, Evie, and another child on the way. In five years, the Miles & Music program has grown from a small, hometown party into a nationwide effort that this year spread to Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix and Seattle.
Bentley states “I’ve always loved motorcycles and when a friend of mine suggested we do something with Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital as a way to give back to the community. We just put the two worlds together and now it’s been five years now and it’s been going great!”
The event started in Columbia, TN with registration, BBQ and live music from Ira Dean who has ridden in the past. When asked about his involvement this year, he responded with “It is so cliché but any time you can; give back. One thing I love about country music and the format is it is a bunch of small town cats. I grew up in a small town in North Carolina and have been really blessed to be able to make a living, do what I do and play music. Anytime I can give anything back, ride a bike, play golf, help raise money for the people that need it, I do it. I try to make about 20 charity events a year. What Dierks is doing here is awesome, it has come a long way since the first year and it is just great. I saw some of the kids from Vanderbilt, they are riding today, that is awesome. Nashville is like a giant Mayberry.”
As tourists, bike enthusiasts and the fans admired the bikes that lined not only the riverfront, but also up and down first avenue, second and entire block of lower Broadway, the concert took on a personality all it’s own. Laura Bell Bundy and her alternate egos opened the show with her single “Giddy On Up” and as she hosted the event throughout the concert, kept the fans and the artists laughing and gave the special event a down home country feel; perhaps not so far removed from the beloved Minnie Pearl and her endearing persona.
Bentley kept the theme of the day rolling as he dedicated his hit song “Lot of Leavin’ Left To Do” to his fellow Harley riders, and chose a set list that was up-tempo and free as the wind with “Sideways”, Up On The Ridge” and “Feel That Fire.” He also joined his guests on stage in collaborations that he admitted had not been rehearsed. Luke Bryan and Bentley sang “Fishin’ In The Dark” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and he joined Miranda Lambert and Jerrod Niemann on “Bad Angel” which Del McCoury also joined in on.
Jerrod Niemann also performed his recent hit, "Lover, Lover" and Heidi Newfield sang “Johnny and June” as well as others. She commented ”This is what life is really all about. It is not about yes, we love our songs and yes, we love success, all the things we are working towards and goals and meeting goals. It is really about helping others and keeping people in good health and reaching out a hand to someone that needs help. That is really what we are doing here today. We get to help while we are having a good time. That’s a great combination. “
Matt Kearney ("Closer to Love," "Nothing Left to Lose") was put on the spot by Bentley and out of the blue, asked him to choose a song to cover. The two of them collaborated on Tom Petty's "Learning to Fly" and had the crowd going wild.
Bentley closed the event with "Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)" and reminded the crowd to come back and join the fun again next year as Miles & Music For Kids will hold events in Nashville, Chicago and Columbus, Ohio.
For more information on Miles & Music For Kids please visit http://www.dierks.com/miles-and-music-kids
Additional exclusive photos of the event can be viewed at http://MomentsByMoser.zenfolio.com/dierksbentlymilesmusic