(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that's happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
Any time country music ends up in a place you might not expect, like the pages of Esquire magazine, it's kind of a little thrill for me. Especially when they are throwing words like "mandolin" and "resonator" and "Charlie Daniels" into the story. But this piece on Hunter Hayes is even better. After talking about how he likes to have an element of bluegrass or classic country in all his songs, he says the songs he's listening to right now are MercyMe's 2006 hit "So Long Self" and Lori McKenna's "Ladders and Parachutes" from her last album. So Christian rock and folk music, respectively. I know Hayes is loyal to the country genre, but it's just good to know he's listening to other music, too. Whatever it takes to influence the kinds of music he's making, I'm all for it. "There's a connection because there's a vulnerability, a confessional quality, to so much of the songwriting. Those lyrics take you in," Hayes says of country music, adding, "Musically, I'm always finding my way home."