Dierks Bentley Praises Fiddler Dan Hochhalter for Crushing ‘Devil Went Down to Georgia’ at CMA Awards

by Halle Ames

Country music star Dierks Bentley is giving a shoutout on Twitter to musician Dan Hochhalter, who crushed it on the fiddle during the CMA Awards.

The 2020 CMA Awards honored Charlie Daniels, who died in July at the age of 83. In his memory, country music’s top talent got together to perform some of Daniels’ most iconic songs. Dierks Bentley, Jason Aldean, Ashley McBryde, and Brothers Osborne all came together under one roof to pay tribute to the late music legend.

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” was performed by Jason Aldean. In addition, fiddler Jenee Fleenor, last year’s first female winner of CMA’s Musician of the Year Award, was set to take on the difficult solos. Two days prior to the show, Fleenor tested positive for COVID. 

Bentley knew the perfect replacement. Dan Hochhalter has played in Bentley’s band for over ten years. He also won Touring Musician of the Year at the 2016 CMA Touring Awards. 

Dan Hochhalter’s History With Daniels

Hochhalter, who shared his story in an over 13-post Twitter thread, said this wasn’t his first time having to do a last-minute performance of the song. In 1998, he performed it at his high school talent show and won first place as well as $100. 

Six years later, Hochhalter was touring with the band, Lonestar. Lonestar was playing in a festival that Charlie Daniels was also featured in. The musician pulled a few strings and got his beloved fiddle signed by his idol. 

But the blind meet and greet didn’t end there. Daniels invited Hochhalter to come onstage with him to play the song that he had known so well. Hochhalter describes the feeling, saying, “I hardly remember it. I was way too nervous and excited. Totally surreal.”

Last Minute Fill In

At the CMA’s he was honored to fill in for Fleenor, his friend “and total bad*ss.” However, his first reaction to hearing the news only days before the CMA Awards “was heartbreak for Jenee. This was supposed to be her moment.”

Next, the fiddle player said he went into a “full-on panic” mode. He says he didn’t eat or sleep in his fit of worry and just kept on practicing. 

Hochhalter absolutely crushed the performance, just like he had on all the other occasions as bowstrings are seen broken after his performance.

Dierks Bentley Honors Hochhalter

In addition, Dierks Bentley praised the man. In a tweet, Bentley said, “The band, crew and I couldn’t be more proud of our guy @fiddlinDan. Crushed devil went down to Georgia on the @CountryMusic awards. Head over to the link to hear the backstory. It’s a good one….”

[H/T Tennessean]