Jon Long isn’t what you would call a ramblin’ man, and he’s not exactly running down the road trying to loosen his load. As a matter of fact, he keeps it pretty tight as the tour bus driver for Dierks Bentley and other big-name artists because he’s the one responsible for keeping the music moving from town to town.
A Spring Hill resident of twenty years, Jon drove trucks for two decades before a neighbor and friend, Glenn Dustin of southern gospel group Legacy Five, having driven tour buses himself, talked him into shifting gears. It’s not an easy gig to break into. To earn his credentials, Jon had to drive for a short time as a Williamson County school bus driver. Soon, he would start getting
seat time with acts like Devin Dawson and Colt Ford. Friends on the road like Mark Banks, driver for Lee Greenwood, showed him the ropes on how to operate tour buses. Once he got his feet wet and was driving crew buses for acts like Little Big Town, he got his next big break. Andrew Morton, lead driver for Dierks Bentley, hired him on as the driver for the band, and he’s been driving Dierks’ bus for six years now.
When he’s not on tour with Dierks, he gets to drive for other artists such as Lady A, Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert, Clint Black, Chris Stapleton, Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, and, of course, a gritty little band known as the Hot Country Knights. Jon catches most shows still in rehearsals when he’s not sleeping, but it beats waiting for tickets to go on sale any day. “I get to meet all kinds of cool people. I haven’t met anybody yet artist-wise, band or crew that hasn’t been nice. They’re all pretty laid back and easy going,” said Jon.
While there’s plenty fun to be had, driving a tour bus is serious business, and Jon is responsible for the bus and all its passengers while they’re on the road. “You drive differently than a tractor trailer because there are people on board, and your center of gravity is higher, so you have to drive slow on your ramps and slow on your curves,” Jon explained. A big tour like Dierks Bentley’s can travel with something close to eight buses and nine trailers. Tours leave out of a town and drive all night to get to the next one. When they get to the venue the next morning, the drivers park the buses and get them all cleaned up and ready to go back out that night. Jon goes to sleep about 3:00 pm, then he wakes up at midnight, picks everyone up back at the venue, and they head back out into the night to do it all again the next day.
Jon says you can’t beat it. In a sense, he gets paid to travel, and that’s his favorite part. He’s traveled with artists from north to south, east to west. On days off while on tour, he takes the opportunities to go out and tour some cities for himself. “I’ve been all over the U.S., all over Canada, and it never gets old,” said Jon.