For supporting act and rising artist Tenille Townes, Dierks Bentley's 2019 Burning Man Tour has been a career-changer. In the time she's been out on the road, Townes' fanbase has dramatically expanded, and her single "Somebody's Daughter" is amassing more and more traction at country radio.

Townes says that the lessons she's learned from and the personal connections she's developed with her tour boss have been just as important as her commercial success, though. Since their first phone conversation, while Townes was sitting in the parking lot of a Whole Foods grocery store, Bentley has become a mentor to the younger artist, and, she explains, his "joy for music and his ability to really take care of everybody" have left a lasting impression on her.

"It's an incredible feeling, to have somebody like that believe in you at the beginning of this path, and take a chance at bringing me out on the road for this entire tour," Townes adds. "That's just such a crazy thing."

For his part, Bentley says that the decision to add Townes to his tour lineup began with a desire to spotlight a rising female artist. "I knew that I had Jon Pardi coming out on tour, and Jon's had a lot of success, so between the two of us, we could probably handle most of the ticket sales and stuff," he explains. "So I felt like it gave me an opportunity to pick someone new for that third slot.

"I hadn't heard of Tenille yet until my manager mentioned her to me," Bentley recalls, "and I listened to her stuff and some other new female artists, [because] I wanted to have a female artist in that first slot." But as soon as he heard Townes' voice, Bentley was hooked, and the decision to bring her out on the road was easy.

Not even Bentley could have predicted how dramatically Townes' star would rise over the course of the tour, however. "What maybe looked like me doing a nice thing early on is now paying dividends for me, because she makes me look great," Bentley says. "People come up to me all the time like, 'Oh, you're so lucky to have Tenille out there on the road with you.'"

Bentley gives his opening act a lot of credit for her dedication to her craft, and how much she's grown over the course of the tour. "I made fun of her one night for being born in the '90s and probably not knowing any '90s country. The next night she came out, and she knew four or five songs," he recalls. "She did a little bit of Trisha [Yearwood], some Patty Loveless, a little bit of Deana Carter ... She's a real student of the road, and she crushes it out there."

If Bentley admires Townes' dedication to her work, the feeling is mutual: "Dierks is such a genuine soul, the more I get to know him in different scenarios and different circumstances, like crazy weather [and] canceled shows, or just the way he takes care of his whole band and crew," Townes says. "He's gone the extra mile, in so many ways.

"And on and off the stage, he's such a genuine, kind guy," she adds. "I'm just thankful to get to watch and learn from that."

The 2019 Burning Man Tour will continue through the summer, wrapping on Sept. 8 in Sacramento, Calif. For the final three stops on the trek, fellow newcomer Caylee Hammack will step in for Townes.

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