No. 1: Dierks Bentley, Brett James Celebrate ‘I Hold On’

Pictured (l-r): ASCAP's Ryan Beuschel, Warner/Chappell Music's Ben Vaughn, Cornman Music's Nate Lowery, producer Ross Copperman, ASCAP's LeAnn Phelan, Brett James, Dierks Bentley, Combustion Music's Chris Farren, Universal Music Group's Mike Dungan and producer Arturo Buenahora. Photo by Ed Rode.

Pictured (l-r): ASCAP’s Ryan Beuschel, Warner/Chappell Music’s Ben Vaughn, Cornman Music’s Nate Lowery, producer Ross Copperman, ASCAP’s LeAnn Phelan, Brett James, Dierks Bentley, Combustion Music’s Chris Farren, Universal Music Group’s Mike Dungan and producer Arturo Buenahora. Photo by Ed Rode.

Nashville industry well-wishers jammed beer-and-burger joint Pour House Tuesday afternoon (April 29) to cheer Dierks Bentley and his co-writer Brett James for their first No. 1 single together, “I Hold On.” The chart-topper marks James’ 16th No. 1 single, and Bentley’s 11th chart-topper as a songwriter.

“I’d never gotten to write with [Dierks] before,” said James. “I’ve been a fan from afar. He walked into my barn/studio, and he said, ‘I’ve got some verse ideas, and they might suck,’ and he basically read me the first two verses of the song. All I did was ride your train that day. He’s quality through and through.”

ASCAP, performing rights organization home to both James and Bentley, hosted the event, along with sponsor Northwestern Mutual.

ASCAP’s LeAnn Phelan brought forward Warner/Chappell’s Ben Vaughn, Cornman Music’s Nate Lowery, producer Ross Copperman, Combustion Music’s Chris Farren, executive producer Arturo Buenahora and Universal Music Group’s Mike Dungan.

Buenahora praised Bentley’s authenticity as an artist and his talent as a songwriter. “I begged my way onto this project for several years,” he said. “Chris Farren called me with the idea of producing this song. It’s a great song that has touched so many people, and there is more on the way,” he promised.

The celebration was especially sweet for producer Copperman, who celebrated his first Billboard chart-topping song as a producer. Complimenting Copperman, Bentley said, “In hockey, there are ‘grinders,’ those people who are in there every day, with energy. He put in the hours.”

Pictured (L-R): Brett James and Dierks Bentley

Pictured (L-R): Brett James and Dierks Bentley

James also praised the work ethic of Capitol Records Nashville’s radio promotion staff. “I’ve been an artist twice, and I know that you can write the best song and if you don’t have someone to push it up the charts, you won’t have a No. 1 song.”

The crowd gathered around the stage and bar area, socializing and enjoying the signature drinks of Pour House, as the songwriters received honors from the Country Music Association and Country Radio Broadcasters, as well as Dungan’s legendary “Impaler Award.”

“I really love Country music,” said Bentley, who took the time to hand out plaques of his own to Buenahora, Dungan, Copperman, publicist Mary Hilliard Harrington and many others who have supported his career success. He recalled his first paying gig in Nashville. “Every No. 1 party makes me take stock of where I am. I still remember leaving my house and remember how the guitar case felt in my hand. I was walking to my truck, which I still have, to go play a show for money. That guitar was my toolkit, and I used it to make money. It still blows me away.”


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Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at

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