Hunter Hayes rocks Gypsum Daze; festival is July 14-16 | VailDaily.com

Hunter Hayes rocks Gypsum Daze; festival is July 14-16

hunter Hayes understands it's a big deal to be the headliner at the Gypsum Daze concert.

Gypsum Daze isn't the Grammys, where Hayes has been a five-time nominee, or the Nashville stage, where he was named Country Music Association New Artist of the Year in 2012. Lundgren Theater can't compare to some of the huge national or international venues where he has performed.

But for Gypsum and the entire Eagle River Valley, the Gypsum Daze concert marks the one day when a big-time country artist performs in town, and Hayes can appreciate why his concert on Saturday night is a very special event for fans.

"I grew up in this little town in Louisiana where we had this one big festival, once a year. It was a really big deal," Hayes said. "So I want everyone to know how grateful I am you have chosen to include us (in Gypsum Daze). I am stoked to get there."

Star power

When looking at his long list of accolades, its hard to remember that Hayes is only 24 years old. Of course, he has packed a lot of star power into each of those years.

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Hayes received his first guitar from actor Robert Duvall at age 6. He met the actor when he was tapped to portray the child accordionist in Duvall's 1997 film "The Apostle." By age 7, he had been invited to perform at the White House, and he signed his first record deal with Atlantic Nashville Records at age 18. Soon after, he started touring as a support act for Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood..

Hayes' self-titled debut album, released in 2011, yielded three consecutive No. 1 singles — "Somebody's Heartbreak," "I Want Crazy" and the crossover hit "Wanted." Hayes co-wrote every song, played every instrument and, along with Dann Huff, produced the album. He followed up with his second album, "Storyline," in 2014, which included hit singles "Tattoo" and "Invisible."

His latest work is titled "The 21 Project." It is a limited-edition, three-disc collection of new music, featuring one acoustic, one studio and one live disc. The project shows the life of seven songs through each variation. Additionally, Hayes is at work on new music for this next full-length studio album. Which brings us back to Gypsum Daze.

Every show is special

Hayes noted he is spending a lot of time in the studio working on that upcoming album, so he isn't on a formal tour this year.

"This year is lighter than usual, which is borderline unnerving for me. We live to be on the road," Hayes said. "As a result, every show means so much more. It's actually raising the bar for us."

He is trying some new stagemanship while out on the road these days, with the idea that less can be more.

"I walk on the stage in almost silence instead of making a grand entrance," he said. "I just want to show people something more human."

But stripping things back represents a risk, Hayes said.

"The top of the show is my most nerve-wreaking time," he said.

Hayes lives to perform, but he strives to make a connection with the audience during his time on stage. Through music, he tells his story and lets his fans know what he is thinking about and struggling with. But that doesn't mean a Hunter Hayes concert is a laid-back experience. His shows are described as "a wild, no-holds-barred vision."

"I can't tell you the number of people who are at a show who have been at the last 10 shows," Hayes said. "The heart of county music is about people, and it's a special connection."

At Gypsum on Saturday night, there will be both hard-core Hayes fans and people who are hearing his music for the first time. Regardless of whether someone is familiar with his work or not, Hayes said by the end of the night, he hopes to form a bond with everyone who has shared the evening with him.

"At the end of show, you know me," he said.

Danielle Bradbury

Danielle Bradbery, winner of Season 4 of NBC's "The Voice," will be the opening act for Hayes at Gypsum Daze 2016.

At the time when she won the reality show prize, she was the youngest contestant to win the competition. Her debut studio album — "Danielle Bradbery" — was released in 2013 and featured the single "The Heart of Dixie."

She appeared with Hayes during his We're Not Invisible Tour last year and has also toured with Brad Paisley, Scotty McCreery, Thomas Rhett and Brett Eldredge.

Gypsum Daze schedule

Saturday night’s concert headlined by Hunter Hayes with special guest Danielle Bradbery is the big show during this week’s Gypsum Daze event, but the festivities actually begin mid-week and build to that point. Here is a rundown of what’s on tap for Gypsum Daze 2016. Find event registration, ticket sales and more at http://www.townofgypsum.com.

Thursday, July 14

6:30 p.m. — Praise in the Park at Lundgren Theater. Performances by music teams throughout the valley.

Friday, July 15

2 p.m. — Fishing derby at Gypsum Ponds. The Colorado Department of Wildlife, town of Gypsum, Impact Ministries and ECO Transit offer fishing for all ages. Park along the shooting range road and hop on the ECO bus for a ride to the ponds. The Department of Wildlife stocks the pond with thousands of rainbow trout. Impact Ministries youth will help the younger participants with baiting, casting and detangling. The last shuttle pick up will be at 4 p.m.

4 p.m. — Kiddie Playland at Town Hall Park opens. Free activities through Saturday for kids, including bounce castles, an obstacle course, a water slide, petting zoo and more.

6 p.m. — Youth talent show at Lundgren Theater. Space is limited to the first 10 applications in age categories from 4 and younger to 18. Registrations accepted at Gypsum Town Hall until Thursday, July 14, at 3 p.m. No on-site registration accepted.

8 p.m. — Gypsum Daze Stampede at Lundgren Theater. Live music from Denver Honky Tonk band Cowboy Dave and dance instruction by Pat and Kevin Whitely from the Stampede Night Club in Aurora and Let’s Dance Denver.

Saturday, July 16

8 a.m. — Gypsum Daze 5K Run/Walk is a 5K run that loops along Lundgren Boulevard and Valley Road. Run proceeds will go toward new children’s books at the Gypsum Public Library.

10 a.m. — Parade down Valley Road. This year’s theme is “The Power of Youth.”

11 a.m. — Classic car show at Town Hall Park. Gypsum Creek Cruisers Car Show is open to all classic cars, pickups, off-road vehicles, antiques, street rods, muscle cars, racers and toys. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and costs $20 per vehicle and $10 for each additional entry. The awards ceremony is at 3 p.m. For more information, contact Steve Carver at 970-989-0470.

Noon — Family shooting sports at Eagle Valley Rod & Gun Club range. This is a free event for all ages. Participants will be allowed to fire small-bore rifles, pistols, shotguns and air guns under the supervision of experienced shooters from the club. Along with furnishing the firearms and ammunition, the club will serve hot dogs, hamburgers and soft drinks.

2 p.m. — Jalapeno eating contest at Town Hall Park. Contestants will have 3 minutes to consume as many jalapenos as possible.

6 p.m. — Gates open for Hunter Hayes and Danielle Bradbury concert at Lundgren Theater. Presale tickets cost $15 and are available online, at Gypsum Town Hall, at Alpine Bank in Eagle and Gypsum and at Bella’s Market in Gypsum. Tickets cost $25 one the day of the show.