Hunky Tonk Singer: Dierks Bentley

updated 05/23/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/23/2005 01:00AM

AGE: 29
HOMETOWN: Phoenix
LATEST CD: The country singer follows up his platinum self-titled album with Modern Day Drifter

•Hit the road, Dierks:
"Lot of Leavin' Left to Do," his current single, "sums up my life perfectly," says Bentley, who logged 300 days on the road last year, opening for George Strait and Kenny Chesney and touring with his own band. "You go from the Strait tour, where the food is great," he says, "to playing these rock bars with just a deli tray and a side of fly larvae."

•Southern charm:
As a kid, Bentley idolized Billy Idol—his now—famous halo of curls was even spiked like the rocker's—but soon turned in to Hank Williams Jr. Moving to Nashville at 19, he says, "I caught myself picking up some words, like 'might could' or 'fixin' to.' I love the South."

•This Bud's for you:
Bentley says his songs "are made for the college kids, NASCAR fans, the guys who drink cheap beer, not Heineken." And the ones inspired by his past relationships are made for crying in that beer: "I proposed to somebody in 2000, and she said no. All the heartbreak songs from my first album are about her." Look out for happier tunes ahead; he's now dating again.

•A bachelor's life:
Off-tour, the singer lives on a $40,000, 42-ft. houseboat docked on Nashville's Percy Priest Lake, with Jake, a spitz mix who turns up in his master's videos. "I just have one guitar," Bentley says, "and a refrigerator full of beer, Jake and a Mexican restaurant down the street."

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