Hunter Hayes was having a moment.

On the last Friday in May, the country star exited his tour bus and stretched his legs on Virginia Beach.

"There's a beautiful ocean breeze," he said via phone. "It feels so good."

Hayes, 21, had just wrapped up 95 dates with Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away Tour" and was excited to play the Virginia Beach Patriotic Festival by the shore that night.

"You finish 95 days in an arena, and all you want to do is go outside," Hayes said with a laugh. "Life could not get any better."

He added that he's looking forward to a summer lineup full of fairs and festivals, including a headlining spot Friday at the Gettysburg Festival.

"I did a ton of fairs and festivals when I was a kid," said Hayes, who grew up Louisiana. "It brings back memories. It feels like home, so we all look forward to it. There's something really fun and energetic that you can't quite put into words."

But before he headed to Gettysburg, Hayes made a stop at the CMT Music Awards June 5 in Nashville, Tenn. He performed during the telecast and was nominated for three awards.

Hayes is no stranger to the awards. His 2011 self-titled major label debut earned him several trophies as well as three Grammy nominations in 2012.

It also earned him opening spots for Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts and Underwood.

"I've gotten a little advice here and there," Hayes said of his time spend on the road with some of country's biggest stars. "It's a different kind of advice, but it's learning by example. They've been good examples."

This summer, Hayes said he looks forward to headlining his own shows.

"The 'Blown Away Tour' was so good for us," Hayes said of his band. "It gave us great experience. (We) experimented with how we would shape our shows in the future."

And even though many of those shows will be outside this summer, Hayes will be able to keep the creativity flowing when he's in his bus, which has a studio in the back.

"I was nervous about having it built in," he said. "It was quite a design to pull off. I've spent so much time in that studio."

For Hayes, who has been making music since he was 4, it's essential to bring his music everywhere. But he can't fit all of the nearly 30 instruments he plays into his bus studio. They travel in one of the tour's trailers, he said.

In his bus studio, he works on demos and used part of a mandolin solo and opening riff of "I Want Crazy" he recorded there for the song's radio version. The track is featured on "Encore" - a deluxe edition of his debut album - which comes out Tuesday.

Hayes said he never considered releasing a deluxe edition until he was doing some recording earlier this year.

"I didn't know what I was writing for," he said. Unlike other sessions, he had no agenda.

"These songs belong on the original record," Hayes said he realized. "With 'Encore,' I had the chance to (keep) creative juices flowing and finish my thought."

He said it felt like the right time to release a few new tracks. In the future, he said he wants to make sure albums aren't rushed or forced.

But at the moment, he added, he planned to focus on the beach. It was the perfect place to take a deep breath before diving into a busy summer.

FlipSide staff

If you go

Country star Hunter Hayes will perform Friday at Gettysburg College's Memorial Field. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., and the music will run 7 to 9 p.m. A limited number of tickets are available for $35 and $25. Parking near the field is $5. Parking at HACC Gettysburg with shuttle service to the field is $3. For details and tickets, visit

More Gettysburg Festival events this weekend

The festival runs through Sunday and features regional and national arts, culture and cuisine. Many of the festival's events are free. The following events are ticketed. For details and tickets, call 717-334-0853 or visit

The Lettermen: Hear the close-harmony pop group perform hits, including "When I Fall in Love," "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Unchained Melody," 8 p.m. Saturday at the Majestic Theater, 25 Carlisle St., Gettysburg. Tickets cost $32.50, $42.50 and $52.50.

"History Through Storytelling: Jeff Shaara's Journey Through the Legacy of His Father": Shaara, who wrote "Gods and Generals" and "The Last Full Measure," will give a luncheon lecture Saturday at The Adams County Agricultural and Natural Resource Center, 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg. The luncheon starts at 11:30 a.m. The lecture starts at 12:30 p.m. Limited tickets available for $40. Read an interview with Jeff Shaara on Book Buzz.

"The Gettysburg Story" movie premiere: The documentary written, directed and produced by Gettysburg native Jake Boritt, will debut 3 p.m. Sunday at the Majestic Theatre, 25 Carlisle St., Gettysburg. Tickets for the screening, which is the Gettysburg Festival's closing event, cost $10. The documentary will also play June 28 to July 12 and is slated for national syndication on public television later this year.

Keep in touch with Hunter Hayes

Website: Twitter: @HunterHayes


Read more celebrity interviews:

Straight A's with Hunter Hayes

Advice: "I'm terrible at advice," Hayes admitted with a laugh during a May 31 interview. "Make the music you love. Dream big."

Ambassador: Martin Guitars named Hayes one of its brand ambassadors in May 2012.

A.M. performance: Hayes will perform on "The Today Show's" 2013 Summer Concert Series

June 21. Check your local listings for airtimes.

Announcing new tour: "CMT on Tour: Hunter Hayes' Let's Be Crazy tour" will kick off Oct. 10 in Knoxville, Tenn. It includes 24 shows in 21 cities. Ashley Monroe will open. Some of dates go on sale Friday. For details, visit

Artist to Watch: On Tuesday, Hayes will headline a sold-out show in New York's Webster Hall as part of MTV's Artist to Watch series. The concert will be livestreamed on and

Awards: Hayes' accolades include the 2012 Teen Choice Awards Choice Male Country Artist, the 2012 Country Music Association Awards New Artist of the Year, the 2012 American Country Awards Single of the Year: New Artist and Music Video of the Year: New Artist.

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