SEBRING — One of country music’s hottest young acts, Love and Theft, with such memorable hits as the No. 1 smash “Angel Eyes” and other chart toppers including “Runaway” and “Whiskey On My Breath,” will perform Saturday, Nov. 10 at Sebring International Raceway.
The high-energy duo of Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Lisles, who are songwriters, guitarists and producers of their own music, will be joined in Sebring by the Nashville-based duo Dairy Daughters, featuring Avon Park-native Shelby Dressel. Dressel gained local and national fame as a 2009 American Idol finalist and partners with Minnesota-native Megan Gertken in the group.
The outdoor festival-style concert will be presented by Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center and Visit Sebring, Lake Placid and Avon Park. Dairy Daughters open the show at 6:30 p.m., followed by Love and Theft at approximately 8 p.m.
ACM, CMA and CMT-nominated Love and Theft got its start in 2006, and very quickly started turning out music that rose the charts and appealed to a broad country music audience. By 2009 the duo had released its first hit album “Runaway” and by 2011 the No. 1 “Angel Eyes” was released. As a songwriter, in 2009 Liles co-wrote the Martina McBride hit “Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong,” and the group now regularly performs the track in live shows.
The longtime music partners agree that their potent musical chemistry reflects their personal rapport.
“The thing about us is that we really are best friends, and that’s helped to get us through the tougher times,” Gunderson said. “At the same time, though, we’re different enough personality wise that the combination works. Stephen’s naturally a more social person than I am, and I’m a little more introverted. He tends to see the best in every person and every situation, and I’m kind of the opposite.
“My songwriting’s different from his, and when we’re in the studio, his approach is different from mine. The way we play guitar is different. The way we arrange songs is different,” Gunderson said. “But our differences come together to make something that each of us couldn’t do on his own.”
The pair’s second-nature chemistry led them both to agree that the occasion of their third album called for the bold musical statement that “Whiskey On My Breath” would ultimately become.
“In some ways, we’ve played it safe in the past, and I think we’re over that now,” Lisles said. “It’s easy to fall into that when you’re working in the Nashville system and trying to please everybody. But eventually you come around and realize that you need to be true to yourself.
“I don’t mind that songs like ‘Whiskey On My Breath’ and ‘Everybody Drives Drunk’ may be a little controversial, because they’re honest, and I think that they’ll make people think about how they feel about life,” Lisles said.
“Those songs are both really personal for us,” Gunderson said. “They show a side of us that’s legitimately us, and how we’ve grown up and matured in the time that we’ve been in this business. But there are plenty of songs on this album that are just good, fun songs, and that’s still a side of us too.”
General admission to the Saturday concert is $30. As a special bonus to concert-goers, concert tickets are good for admission all weekend to the inaugural IMSA Michelin Encore four-hour endurance race on Sunday, Nov. 11. Overnight parking passes for recreational vehicles are available for an additional $30.