Hunter Hayes squeezes in myriad milestones from life in music

Hunter Hayes turns 26 next month, yet he’s already into his third decade of familiarity with playing multiple musical instruments, all started with a squeeze box.

He will play, with Maggie Rose opening, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, at House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, in a show rescheduled from April 27.

Hayes spoke by phone last month after arriving in Bethlehem, Pa., for a concert. With the accordion by kindergarten, then adding drums and guitar to his mix at age 6, Hayes said his musical exploration reflected the cultural area in which he grew up in southern Louisiana, and he remains grateful for the timing of the transition in technology to afford a music studio at home through his teen years.

“I grew up writing songs in Pro Tools,” he said, explaining that learning an instrument to play live is “very different.”

Through a home studio, Hayes said, “you try as many times as you want to, and never run out of tape.”

About two years after moving to Nashville, Tenn., he debuted on country charts in 2011 with “Storm Warning,” on which he played all the instruments. Other hits since then have included “Wanted,” “Somebody’s Heartbreak” and “I Want Crazy.” With his forthcoming third CD for Atlantic/Warner Music Nashville, and three songs – “Yesterday’s Song,” “Amen” and “Young Blood” – already in fans’ hands, Hayes said having more time between projects to craft next big step “also can work against you, if you’re not careful.”

“There is a such a thing as trying too hard,” he said, stressing the importance to avoid drawing uncommon expectations.

“I had to learn to let it go,” he said. “I love the attempt to search for something where I don’t know where I’m going, and not having a destination.”

He brought up one number “I was not sure of,” yet reactions from his band and production team “taught me a lot” in what evolved into a “bizarre groove.”

Hayes also co-wrote and performed “All for You” in the movie “Monster Trucks,” from this past winter. He said film producers let him see some clips “early on,” sending him three scenes without music and an invitation to pick one around which to compose.

With one’s own recordings, “you know how to say it,” Hayes said, yet for movie music, “you’re subject to what the director has in mind.”

Really believing in “the message and movie,” Hayes relayed two songs for one scene, and by later flying to Los Angeles and seeing one demo woven into the finished movie, he found the whole creative cycle “really uplifting.”

Singing the national anthem Nov. 1 in Cleveland for the sixth game of the World Series – the finale for which the Chicago Cubs made history by winning the next night in 10 innings – Hayes summed that up as “pretty rad,” especially because that plan to perform was pitched to him “a couple of days” beforehand.

Hayes said its timing, as he was adjusting to a slight change in his voice, helped propel him to meet this “challenge of all challenges” before a national TV audience with millions watching.

Performing on a baseball field, he said, one does hear what he or she is singing “until 30 seconds later,” so succeeding on that sort of stage let him jump into a new career vocal chapter, “and I made friends with this view.”

Maggie Rose’s Clemson connection

Rose, quick to compliment Hayes on their touring together this summer, also relates to multitasking. Writing, singing and producing her own music, has made the process of storytelling through melodies easier and harder at times each, she said, calling from home in Nashville. She feels “very comfortable” adding autobiographical edges to her repertoire, “to be brave enough to share those thoughts.”

She said she and husband Austin Marshall, her business manager, celebrated their first wedding anniversary two weeks after release of her latest EP, “Dreams > Dollars.” Working together is wonderful, but not competitive, “because we depend on each other – it’s symbiotic,” Rose said, grateful for someone who maybe even “knows me better than I do.”

Rose agreed that her video for “Body on Fire,” the EP’s second track, showing a featured couple’s passion and intimacy as voiced in the lyrics and on screen, might inspire viewers to love their partner even more, and with the scenes and alternating blue and red hues, it achieved a “good balance.”

Touring with other artists such as the married tandem of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Rose said she appreciates how they “have never shied away from reacting to each other.” The opportunities to open for other stars such as Martina McBride and Kip Moore brings “a different venue, sound capacity and crowd size” everywhere, said Rose, seeing the value of a “really adaptable” nature.

Rose, who has begun rehearsals to record a live CD, said July 8 marked her 45th time playing the Grand Ole Opry, with a family feeling she sensed from growing up in Maryland. She can’t get enough of its “iron-clad sense of community” and that on every night there, she and Marshall catch up with other artists who usually would be on the road, and see “living legends.”

“You have a built-in crowd of people from all over the country,” Rose said of that “Nashvillian” energy, “and you’re reaching people who are going to take that back home.”

Rose also spent a few semesters studying at Clemson University, another place that “felt like a community.” Bringing up the Tigers’ national championship in football from January, she loved tailgating with her circle on campus before her move to Music City a decade ago, however another connection is in place.

“My cousin just graduated from there,” Rose said. “We kept it in the family.”


WHO: Hunter Hayes (, with Maggie Rose (

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12 (rescheduled from April 27)

WHERE: House of Blues, at Barefoot Landing, on U.S. 17 in North Myrtle Beach.

HOW MUCH: $35-$70

OTHER STARS ON TAP IN COMING WEEKS: Tesla, with The Cringe and Voices of Extreme, 8 p.m. Friday; Lil Uzi Vert, with Bibi Bourelly and Kodie Shane, 8 p.m. Aug. 20 (rescheduled from June 18); Phillip Phillips, 8 p.m. Aug. 29; Sister Hazel, 8:30 p.m. Sept. 1; and Eli Young Band, 8 p.m. Sept. 3. Prices vary for each.

FREE CONCERTS: Outside on The Deck – Orphan Annie, 7-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and “Sweet Reggae Sundays,” with NoNeed and PaperWork, 7-11 p.m. Sunday.

INFORMATION: 843-272-3000 or



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