Last night was the 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards and, along with Dierks’ seven nominations, he was given the opportunity to perform “Riser,” a killer song written by Travis Meadows and Steve Moakler. Everyone involved wanted it to be a special performance, so Dierks’ manager suggested that we supplement our band with a string section to make it particularly memorable. Being a string player myself, I was especially excited about the idea.
We had already performed “Riser” on Late Show with David Letterman back in February, opting to do a stripped-down acoustic version. This time it would be completely different, but I thought it would be cool to take elements from the Letterman performance and use them to build the string arrangement for the ACMs.
I recorded a rough idea of what I thought the string parts should be at my home studio, and took that recording to Kristin Wilkinson, one of Nashville’s premier composers and arrangers. Together, we worked in her studio and came up with an interesting and dramatic arrangement that we both loved.
While Dierks didn’t take home as many awards as I hoped he would, our performance of Riser was still triumphant, with Billboard.com naming it the best performance of the night.