It's a great time to be Dierks Bentley these days. The homegrown country music superstar, who has deep roots in the Valley, performed a surprise duet with Taylor Swift during a recent concert in Kansas City, dropped the fifth hit single from his latest album, Riser, earlier this summer and reportedly is getting big crowds on his current tour.
Oh, and his namesake bar chain, Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row, officially opened its second location in downtown Tempe last night. The combination honky-tonk, down-home restaurant, whiskey joint, and country music haven, which is located just off Mill Avenue on Sixth Street, held its grand opening on Thursday evening with a huge turnout and a performance by up-and-coming hitmakers Parmalee.
It certainly was a lively debut for the 7,200-square-foot establishment, which was packed with members of the college and cowboy crowd, as well as plenty of people breaking in its amply sized wooden dance floor with two-step moves to the music of Parmalee and country and rock tracks laid down by DJ Steel.
A similar scene is likely to ensue at the Tempe spot every weekend, as it will feature both live country music and DJ-powered mixes, much like the original Whiskey Row in Scottsdale (which opened in 2013). But while both locations share a similar name, vibe, food and drink selection, and upscale rustic bent, there are a few differences between the two, according to its proprietors.
Sean Frantz of Riot Hospitality Group, the Scottsdale-based company that runs both Whiskey Rows (as well as the Valley's El Hefe nightspots) says that the Tempe version of the bar, which was formerly the home of the Public House on Sixth, is not only bigger than its sister location but offers different amenities.
“It's a much larger venue that laid out completely different,” he says. “The whole place is three times bigger than the Scottsdale location, so there's more room for dancing and drinking . . . more room for everything.”
That includes a bigger patio area out back, complete with lounge-style seating and its own bar, as well as such diversions as a ping-pong table and an entire room devoted to playing bags. And when it comes to the dance floor, its plenty big.
“The Tempe [Whiskey Row] has a big ol' dance floor,” he says.
Frantz expects people will be hitting the dance floor during any of the Tempe Whiskey Row's various weekly events, like the country dance night on Wednesdays with DJ Steel, live band karaoke night on Thursdays featuring Zona Road, or when local acts perform on Friday nights.
“Live music and dancing have been a big part of Whiskey Row in Scottsdale and we expect it will be the same with Tempe,” he says.
At the very least, it adds to the variety of live music to downtown Tempe, which already features such performance-friendly spots as C.A.S.A. Lounge, Rula Bula, and piano bar Low Key. And, if nothing else, the sounds of country crooning may offer a respite of sorts for the club crowd from the usual thrum of electronic beats coming from the slew of dance joints that dominate the Mill Avenue nightlife scene.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.