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Dierks Raises Big Bucks for Firefighters With Arizona Benefit

Country Cares Concert nets more than $476,000 for Arizona heroes.

Dierks performs new song “Here on Earth” as images of the fallen Arizona firefighters flash behind him onscreen.
Karen Rudolph

“Relief from grief.” These words, spoken by country music superstar Dierks Bentley, sum up the theme of last night’s County Cares Concert (July 22), which raised money for the families of the 19 Granite Mountain firefighters—the Hotshots—who died fighting the Yarnell fire near Prescott, Ariz., on June 30.

Held at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, the event featured performances from Dierks, The Band Perry, Randy Houser and David Nail. With 6,000 country fans in attendance, a silent auction, merchandise sales and the live auctioning of two signed guitars for $25,000 each, the event raised more than $476,000, with all the proceeds going to the victims’ families. Dierks, an Arizona native, organized the concert with the help of radio stations KAFF Country of Flagstaff and KMLE Country of Phoenix.

Though a benefit concert for a tragic event, Dierks and co. mainly stuck to their upbeat, rowdy material to the delight of the crowd. For Dierks, that meant singalong hits like “5-1-5-0” and “Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go).” According to the headliner, a more reflective tone was originally planned for the evening, but after speaking with many of the firefighters’ widows before the show, the artists decided to change their set lists. The women all made it clear that if their husbands were there, they would want the show to rock.

Which it certainly did. But the concert did have its poignant, somber moments, especially when Dierks performed “Here on Earth,” a song from his upcoming album, Riser. As Dierks sang, images of the fallen Hotshots appeared on a screen behind him. “Prescott, I will hold on to this night forever,” Dierks said.

Still, the loudest and by far longest applause of the night went not to one of the country stars, but to Granite Mountain Hotshot Brendan “Doughnut” McDonough, who received a KMLE Hometown Hero award.

“This isn't about us,” Dierks said from the stage. “The heroes are the audience, and it's all about raising money.”

Look for more on Dierks’ Country Cares Concert in an upcoming issue of Country Weekly.

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