Things just got real for country star Dierks Bentley’s fake band, Hot Country Knights. No longer quite so faux, the satirical ’90s country act has signed a legit contract with Universal Music Group Nashville, which also happens to be Bentley’s longtime label home.
The news was first announced Thursday morning on the Hot Country Knights Facebook page and subsequently confirmed in a press release — none of which mentioned Bentley’s real name or that of any of the other participating members of his road band, who’ve developed a full Spinal Tap-like musical-comedy act around the mullet-laden, ’90s-spoofing conceit.
A release from Universal’s Capitol Nashville imprint says “the Knights are promising to bring real ’90s country music back to a format that’s been drowning in male sensitivity, cashmere cardigan sweaters and programmed drum loops.” In concert, the group has focused on covering ’90s hits; it’s unknown whether they’ll stick to that on record or develop any period-recalling original material as well.
A signing photo had Bentley and company in ’90s gear, joining some big-wigs who stuck with the clothing of the 2020s, including UMG Nashville chairman/CEO Mike Dungan, UMG Nashville president Cindy Mabe, Mary Hilliard Harrington of Red Light Management, WME Nashville co-head Jay Williams, and Royce Risser and Brian Wright, UMG Nashville’s executive VPs of promotion and A&R, respectively
Playing it straight, the information from Universal named the players as lead singer Douglas (“Doug”) Douglason, lead bass player Trevor Travis, lead guitarist Marty Ray (“Rayro”) Roburn, keytar/fiddle player Terotej (“Terry”) Dvoraczekynski, steel guitarist Barry Van Ricky and percussionist Monte Montgomery.
Hot Country Knights are a familiar sight to Bentley’s fans, as the group often serves as an opening act for the star’s sold-out shows on the amphitheater circuit. The parody band has also played to music industry crowds at appearances at the annual Country Radio Summit in Nashville, where they’ve been joined by country stars like Jon Pardi and Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley, who also dress up in ’90s drag to fit in with the stuck-in-time act. When the group made its CRS debut in early 2015, it was joined by Miranda Lambert, who covered a vintage Shania Twain tune, a task that fell to Kashi Ashton when they reprised the act at the radio conference last year.
A big part of Hot Country Knights’ act on stage, and something that probably won’t be reprised on record, is comedic infighting among members of the band as they struggle over ego issues — or just bicker about whether a country hit they want to cover came out in 1989 or ’90. Their performances have been known to end with mock fistfights that spill out onto the street outside.