Now that Dierks Bentley has scored his 10th No. 1 hit, it's hard to believe he almost threw in the towel on the whole music business.

After years of seeming to make no progress as a singer, Bentley decided his career wasn't going to take off. Just before he left town, he happened upon a concert by the bluegrass virtuoso Del McCoury and decided to give it another shot. Fast-forward to today, when he's celebrating his hits, most recently from this year's album, "Home," and playing before sold-out crowds on his headlining tour.

"I definitely stepped away and explored some things that were more on the fringe of country music for a little while," Bentley said of the album. "So, this record feels fresh. It doesn't feel like a continuation of any other project or series of recordings. I love being able to try different things musically, and I'm so thankful my fans have followed me to those places. But, I feel like my real 'Home' is in the center of country music."

Bentley credits his love of Van Halen with the rock influences on his latest No. 1 hit, "5-1-5-0." The timing of the song couldn't be better, he said, noting that it underscores all the success he's had since the February release of "Home," including playing sold-out shows at venues across the United States.

Onstage
Dierks Bentley
When: Saturday, following the 1:05 p.m. Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers game
Where: Nationals Park, 1500 S. Capitol St. SE
Info: Free with game ticket; 202-675-NATS (6287); washington.nationals.mlb.com

"I have to admit, it's been a 5150 kinda summer," said Bentley. "The tailgating before shows has been turned up a notch, and the fans are ready to get crazy. You can't ever take for granted the power of a fun, up-tempo song that isn't meant for anything other than kicking off a party. I'll also never take for granted having 10 No. 1 hits on country radio ... those guys and the fans have given me an unbelievable career so far."

Bentley has always credited such artists as McCoury, with whom he teamed many times, including for a song on his previous album, "Up On The Ridge," and of course Jack Ingram, for giving him needed boosts along the way. Ingram invited Bentley to perform with him in several high-profile performances, including on the Academy of Country Music Awards.

"I was a Jack Ingram fan when I was doing production support work [in the 1990s]," Bentley said. "I remember him getting ready to sing when I was rolling up cables. ... Performing with him was one of the greatest times I ever had, really."