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 weekends 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 Associations choice as the Best New Artist of 2012, Hayes earned this accolade because of his intense, single-minded dedication to his music.
With me, its always going to be music, Hayes said. Thats the one thing I know. That is my thing. That is my place. I make music because its 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 Somebodys 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 wont 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.
Theres an energy that happens live. Thats where Im 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, thats my home. Thats my element, and Im not shy anymore. Thats where Im comfortable. Getting to play live every night, thats what Ive always dreamed about. Im 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 bands 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 weve always wanted to make.
Being in Georgia is playing to a crowd theyre familiar with, Gunderson said.
Were both from the South and were very much in favor of embracing our country roots. I feel like weve done that, Gunderson said. Were 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 cant 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; www.georgianationalfair.com