Don’t be too quick to think you’ve got Dierks Bentley all figured out.

Yes, he’s one of the faces of modern pop-country music. But he’s toured with bluegrass veteran Del McCoury, and his first job in Nashville was working in the tape archive of the Nashville Network, looking up footage of Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and other country legends. So he has a deep appreciation for old country music and its history.

“I needed a job, and I would have gone crazy doing a day job without music involved, so I was lucky to get that,” said Bentley, 36. “Learning about those guys was great. Merle Haggard really pushed the boundaries. Buck Owens did too.”

And another thing you might not know about the Arizona-born Bentley is that he’s a huge hockey fan. He spent a year at the University of Vermont, where one of his dorm mates was Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas. When he’s home in Nashville, he plays in a men’s hockey league — usually at center or left wing. He and his band even played at the NHL awards ceremony last year.

“I love hockey because it’s so far from music. The guys I play with could care less about music; all they care about is hockey,” said Bentley, speaking from a tour stop in Missoula, Mont. “Riding my motorcycle and playing hockey are what I like to do when I’m not playing music.”

Bentley will be playing music tonight at the Augusta Civic Center. He has been touring to promote his recent album, “Home,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country album chart in February. The album has already given him two more No. 1 country hits: “Am I The Only One” and “Home.”

Although Bentley has sold a ton of records and has been nominated for 10 Grammy awards during a 10-year recording career, he’s never won a Grammy. But he says it’s not a goal of his to win a Grammy — his goals are to do “great live shows” and put out “great music.” During the interview for this story, he was much more excited when talking about touring than when talking about awards.

“We just got back from playing in Alaska and Canada, which was great, and now I’m sitting in my Jeep in Montana, just taking it all in,” he said.

Bentley remembers Maine fondly from previous tours.

“I remember we played in Portland (at Port City Music Hall) with Del McCoury, did a bluegrass thing with no electric guitars,” said Bentley. “But this show (in Augusta) will be loud and rocking. I’m using every weapon in my arsenal.”

Bentley grew up near Phoenix, where his mother was a homemaker and his father worked in a bank. He credits his dad — an 88-year-old World War II veteran — with turning him on to classic country music.

“My dad loved all country music, still does — Hank Williams, George Straight, Randy Travis,” said Bentley.

After a year at UVM, Bentley transferred to Vanderbilt in Nashville, where he worked at the Nashville Network by day while soaking up the city’s music scene at night.

Bentley laments the fact that now that he’s famous, it’s not so easy for him to hang out in downtown Nashville, at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, or the other spots that inspired him as a young musician.

“If I go down there now, it’s gonna be late at night with a good buzz on, and it’s going to be pretty crazy,” said Bentley. “Other than that, I can’t really just hang out down there.”

But he can at the ice rink.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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Twitter: Ray Routhier