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Kalamazoo Native Prepares for Bucket List Show at the State Theatre

Ryan Hurd | KzooConnect

A quick scroll through Instagram shows that Ryan Hurd loves coffee, country music, and his fiancée. A closer look reveals that the Kalamazoo native is an accomplished songwriter and recording artist set to play the Kalamazoo State Theatre alongside his Grammy-winning fiancée Maren Morris on Oct. 5.

Hurd graduated from Heritage Christian Academy in 2005 before following his music aspirations to Nashville. Thanks to talent, dedication, and hard work, that move has paid off.

In addition to writing songs that have been recorded by Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Maren Morris, Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line, and many others, Hurd has also recorded his own music. Earlier this year he released a self-titled EP and is looking forward to releasing a full-length album soon.

Maren Morris | KzooConnect

"My first single off of my album is called 'Love In A Bar.' It's my story of falling in love with Maren," Hurd said.

"The song is on most of the radio stations in Michigan and once it gets a little higher on the charts we'll set a release date for the rest of the album," he said.

"It's different working with a record company like RCA because so much thought goes behind marketing a record that sometimes it might take a second to get the music out there, but in the end it reaches so many more people."

In the meantime, Hurd is excited to put on a hometown show next month at The State Theatre.

"It will be the first show of this leg of the Hero Tour, so it's really amazing that it's sold out," Hurd said.

"The State Theater is a gorgeous venue and is honestly one of my bucket list venues just because I grew up going to shows there, whether it was Eric Church or Wilco.

"Maren and I are both really excited to play at home. Maren loves Michigan and I know that she feels such a strong tie to Kalamazoo because we've spent so much time in the area and gotten engaged here as well. We're both just thrilled to be able to play a hometown show."

Speaking of hometown visits, Hurd and Morris have a go-to list of local stops to make between Kalamazoo itself and Hurd's family cottage on Lake Allegan.

"I love Bell's," Hurd said. "I always try to make a stop there. I'm also a huge fan of Water Street Coffee and we usually will get Vitale's pizza in Allegan.

"We get back to our cottage a few times a year and that is always really special for our family. I love being there."

Feeling connected to his family and roots while on the road gets a bit easier in the fall.

"I'm a big Michigan football fan and so I really like watching the games on Saturday when we're out on the road," he said.

Since moving to Nashville and hitting the road with numerous artists, Hurd's idea of home has changed somewhat.

"I wrote a song with Maren called 'Last Turn Home.' It's about what it feels like to finally get back to where you feel most yourself, but instead of a plane finding that same feeling in a person.

"Tim McGraw originally recorded it, but it was never on the radio so we decided to record it for my album. When I was writing it, a lot of the imagery in my head was our place in West Michigan, and its grown in meaning over the last few years. It's amazing to call a place like Kalamazoo home," he said.

"I miss downtown, for sure. It seems like every time I come back there's a new brewery I know nothing about. We get back a few times a year to hang at our cottage, and every chance we get we'll spend a few days up there. I miss Lake Michigan though, I don't generally have as much time as I'd like to be in South Haven, but that's one of the coolest towns," Hurd said.

While the area evolves, it also serves as a great foundation for a country artist like Hurd.

"I think the cool part about Kalamazoo and West Michigan is that it sort of straddles this line between rust belt and rural in a really cool way. That really informed my worldview and made country music a really accessible outlet for me.

"All of the people that I grew up with and stay in touch with listen to country music, it's really cool when people tell me that they heard my song on the radio or that they bought tickets to a show. I've gotten to travel the entire country with music and I've always felt at home around people from the Midwest, whether it's West Michigan, Chicago, or Ohio, but I feel really lucky to get to make country music in Nashville," Hurd said.

Tickets for the Oct. 5th show at the Kalamazoo State Theatre are sold out, but fear not! Hurd will be back in West Michigan opening for Dustin Lynch on Sunday, Dec. 17, at 20 Monroe Live in Grand Rapids. Get your tickets soon!

Photo Credits: Ryan Hurd photo by John Shearer. Maren Morris photo by Alex Ferrari.

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