Don't call the Hot Country Knights an overnight success story. Dierks Bentley's side project had been hustling for nearly five years before signing with UMG Nashville to start 2020. A press release made it official on Thursday (Jan. 2), but it's not clear what this means musically.

Hot Country Knights are a '90s-inspired country group that often open Bentley's concerts. It's a mix of country music covers and comedy that relies heavily on '90s hits from stars like John Michael Montgomery, Clint Black, Alan Jackson and Joe Diffie. Bentley transforms into lead singer Douglas "Doug" Douglason (known as Big Rhythm Doug, at times) and is joined by bassist Trevor Travis, guitarist Marty Ray Roburn, keytar and fiddle player Terotej Dvoraczekynski, steel guitarist Barry Van Ricky and drummer Monte Montgomery. The five men (who in real life tour with Bentley) sport mullets and and the best (or worst?) '90s men's fashion. Think neon and stone washed jeans as they rifle through songs and innuendo on stage.

The well-rehearsed side project was first introduced in 2015, but became something much more serious in 2018 and 2019 when they became regular openers for Bentley. In fact, he said the thing he was most looking forward to when he played Nashville's Bridgestone Arena in 2019 was the first Hot Country Knights show at the venue.

A video that shows the group's signing with UMG Nashville chief Mike Dungan refers to a few original songs, but it's not clear if any future recording will be original songs or new versions of classic '90s hits. Hot Country Knights only promise to bring real '90s county back to the mainstream.

"Some artists out there tried to put the 'O' back in country ... but what it's really missing is the 'T,'" Douglason says in a press release. “Country music has Low-T right now … it could use a pick-me-up, if you know what I mean."

The band's website lists just two tour dates right now, with Bentley at the Chelsea in Las Vegas in February.

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