“The response was fantastic in the cities that we’d [previously] played,” Murphy told Pollstar. “But we were also surprised with the number of people that were showing up in cities that we hadn’t played with [Swift]. … It was really an overwhelming success in the fall, which we’ve kept going outside of the dates we did this winter with Rascal Flatts.”
Hayes has been performing live since he was 4 years old, the year he played accordion at a local Cajun restaurant and also took the stage with Hank Williams Jr. in front of 20,000 people. Since then, the Louisiana native and former child actor has continued to collect memories and achievements including playing with Johnny and June Cash, performing for President Bill Clinton and being nominated for the Academy of Country Music’s 2012 top new artist award.
Before opening for Rascal Flatts in early 2012, Hayes co-wrote a track for the band’s 2010 album Nothing Like This. He’s also co-written a tune for Montgomery Gentry.
Hayes’ major label, self-titled debut was released in October via Atlantic, featuring the singles “Storm Warning” and “Wanted.” In addition to writing or co-writing every song, Hayes co-produced the album and played every one of the 30 instruments including the 12-string acoustic guitar, Wurlitzer and sitar.
“It’s pretty remarkable how quickly he can pick something up,” Murphy said. “He’s an incredible guitar player, he’s a tremendous piano player, he’s a great drummer. Those are the three that stuck out for me but I think he could pretty much play anything with a string on it.”
Hayes has headline gigs as well as fair and festival appearances booked from May through early September. In mid-September he joins Carrie Underwood as the special guest on her North American tour.