Country heartthrob Hunter Hayes to perform Saturday at Georgia National Fair

Telegraph correspondentOctober 4, 2013 

Hunter Hayes, above, and Love and Theft will perform Saturday at the Georgia National Fair.

The Georgia National Fair is filled with events that draw families from all over Georgia, and the nightly concerts are certainly among the favorites. The first weekend’s concert Saturday night will feature CMA award winner and Grammy nominee Hunter Hayes and Love and Theft, made up of musicians Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson.

Most well-known for being the Country Music Association’s choice as the Best New Artist of 2012, Hayes earned this accolade because of his intense, single-minded dedication to his music.

“With me, it’s always going to be music,” Hayes said. “That’s the one thing I know. That is my thing. That is my place. I make music because it’s the only way I can breathe. This is how I want to spend the rest of my life.”

Hayes’ dedication has led to fan-favorite songs including the Top 20 country single “Storm Warning” and the No. 1 singles “Wanted” and “Somebody’s Heartbreak.” A 2013 reissue included the Top 5 single “I Want Crazy.”

Despite being only 22 years old, Hayes views himself as “an old soul.”

“Being an only child absolutely helped,” Hayes said during a phone interview. “I credit a lot to that. It gave me more time to be alone and spend more time with the art. I won’t say I grew up faster, but I definitely got into what I wanted to do quicker because I had to. Music was all I had. And my parents did everything they could to support me. They learned a business they knew nothing about, just so that I could make music. I was surrounded by positive energy all the time.”

Hayes will be bringing that energy to the stage to entertain the crowds at the fair.

“There’s an energy that happens live. That’s where I’m most myself. There is nothing as honest as my live performance. That is what I live for every day,” he said. “When I get on stage, that’s my home. That’s my element, and I’m not shy anymore. That’s where I’m comfortable. Getting to play live every night, that’s what I’ve always dreamed about. I’m blessed beyond belief.”

Love and Thefts’ recently released self-titled album, despite being their second, is their introduction to the world at large. The guys share lead vocals, harmonize like a church choir, and bolster their songs with their own guitar playing.

“We sound like brothers when we sing,” Gunderson said on the band’s website. “Stephen and I have always been on the same page as far as the vision for the band, and we feel like we have made the record we’ve always wanted to make.”

Being in Georgia is playing to a crowd they’re familiar with, Gunderson said.

“We’re both from the South and we’re very much in favor of embracing our country roots. I feel like we’ve done that,” Gunderson said. “We’re looking very forward to being in Georgia and playing our kind of music for our kind of people.”

“We love performing,” Liles added. “The way we are recording now is the way our influences made records: live with a band. It adds something to go back to the basics and we can’t wait to get on stage again.”

Hunter Hayes and Love and Theft

When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5

Where: Reaves Arena, Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter, Perry

Cost: $30, includes fair admission if purchased in advance

Information: 478-987-3247;

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