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2023 State Fair Performers Acknowledge Kansans’ Support During Concerts


By Brenna Eller


Bear Rinehart
NEEDTOBREATHE lead singer Bear Rinehart singing during the Kansas State Fair on Sept. 8, 2023. Photo by Brenna Eller

HUTCHINSON, Kan. Grammy nominated multi-platinum rock band NEEDTOBREATHE started off the Kansas State Fair at the Nex-Tech Grandstands on Friday night and ended their concert with a long-lasting encore involving the crowd.

Lead singer, Bear Rinehart shared memories of how the band started out only playing locally in the small area around Seneca, SC., until they decided to start touring. He said they were worried about leaving home for the first time and now, 20 years later, they have a large fanbase that continues to grow.

“We’re trying to bring you an old school rock ‘n’ roll show,” Rinehart said. “I’m incredibly thankful whether you care or not that we have a band that would go out all the way to the edge to see what happens next.”

The band is made up of members Bear Rinehart – Lead Vocalist, Seth Bolt- Bass, Josh Lovelace – Piano and Harmonica, Randall Harris – Drums, and Tyler Burkum – Lead Guitar.

The band has been known over the years to be a rock, folk, and also faith-based band which gives them a lot to work with when they put together shows.

“We’re having more fun than we’ve ever had and I think in part because it feels a little dangerous,” Rinehart said. “We come out here, we’re not going to play the same songs the same way any given night and the fact that we get to show up here to the Kansas State Fair and you all showed up smiling and dancing…it means the world to us. I mean that.”

Rinehart said he’s been performing for a long time and that this concert meant a lot.

“Tonight was special for us, so thank you all,” Rinehart said.

Josh Lovelace (left) and Tyler Burkum (right) of NEEDTOBREATHE had a nice run during one of the songs in the set that had the audience clapping and cheering. Photo by Brenna Eller

During the Encore, the band played “Washed by the Water” and had the crowd sing the chorus at different levels of volume.

On Saturday, Sept. 9, Megan Moroney opened for Carly Pearce and the house was packed once again, which both Moroney and Pearce said was an amazing sight to see.

Moroney gave backstories about her songs before she performed them and one of her biggest themes was being cheated on and getting payback through the power of song.

“The worse the guy, the better the song,” Moroney said.

Megan Moroney
Megan Moroney performing before Carly Pearce at the Kansas State Fair on Sept. 9. Photo by Brenna Eller

Moroney’s hit single “Tennessee Orange” (2022) has climbed the Country top 100 charts and her album Lucky, released May 5, 2023 is currently ranked 38 on Billboard’s 200 and 10 on US Country Albums (updated weekly).

“I’m not Pretty” is another song off of the Lucky album that gained a lot of traction and put Moroney on the map besides “Tennessee Orange.”

If you aren’t familiar with the song, “Girl in the Mirror,” the song follows a girl who sees herself through her toxic relationship. Through the song, the end line of each verse is, “She loves the boy more than she loves the girl in the mirror.”

After the song was over, Moroney repeated the last two lines of the last verse and said, “let’s sing that part again. This is the most important line of the song ladies…I loved the boy more than I love the girl in the mirror, You can’t love the boy more than you love the girl in the mirror.

Although she’s a “Georgia Girl,” Moroney also has a song that mentions Kansas called, “Kansas Anymore,” which has a lot of Kansas imagery while still centered around heartache.

Throughout her show, Moroney kept saying she loved the crowd and that if she could, she would stay and sing all night long. During the performance she kept checking to see how much time she had left to see if she could sing just a few more songs…

Carly Pearce performing at the Kansas State Fair Sept. 9, 2023. Photo by Brenna Eller

Carly Pearce had an emotional night and shared a similar message as Moroney as she marveled at the turnout of fans in the stands and the level of dedication the crowd gave to each of her songs when they sang with her.

During her performance of Every Little Thing, Pearce asked if everyone could turn their phones on so she could see everybody, even those high up in the stands.

“You look beautiful, Kansas!” Pearce yelled.

Later on, Pearce was again amazed by the crowd and said, “Kansas you really showed up tonight.”

Pearce said it’s everything for an artist to have stands as full as they were on Saturday night, especially for newer artists like her and Moroney. Both Pearce and Moroney said they have dreamed of becoming singers since they were kids and looked up to many country musicians before them. For Pearce, that was Loretta Lynn, who she dedicated her song, “Dear Miss Loretta” to as well as her grandmother.

As she continued sharing backstories to songs, she got to her album 29 and said that she was a newlywed in the middle of COVID-19 when she wrote the song 29 and didn’t think anyone would ever hear it. She knew what was going to happen and the marriage ended up in divorce. She said when she first shared the idea of writing an album about the divorce to her friend, her friend thought it was a bad idea, but Pearce realized other people quickly related to what she was going through.

Carly Having Crowd Sing 29
Carly Pearce holding her mic out as the crowd sings 29. Photo by Brenna Eller

“We all have seasons that we didn’t expect and it truly is all about walking straight through whatever season you are in and being confident that God will get you through the other side,” Pearce said. “If you’re here tonight and you are feeling at your lowest, and you feel like nobody sees you and nobody understands what you’re going through, please look at my story and understand that I know your pain and I am at the best place that I have ever been in my entire life and you will be there too.”

Someone in the crowd had a sign about moving on hinting to Pearce’s song, “What He Didn’t Do” and Pearce decided to sign it along with a few other signs near the front of the stage during her performance.

During the concert, Pearce also played rock, paper, scissors with a member of the audience which she said she has never done before after reading a poster that dared her to play and if she lost she had to take a selfie with them.

“I’ll take a selfie with you anyway,” Pearce said to the fan after not knowing whether or not she won or lost the battle because they were off timing each time.

Carly Pearce tearing up at KSF
Carly Pearce gets emotional as she listens to the crowd sing a song she explained she wrote during a difficult time in her life. Photo by Brenna Eller

At the concert, Pearce also sang a new song titled “Trust Issues” that will be released soon. The song was written by Sterling, Kan. native and singer/songwriter Nicolle Galyon-Clawson.

Pearce said she wanted this song to be more hopeful than most of her songs about heartbreak.

“She’s become somebody that I have to have when I’m writing songs because she’s so special,” Pearce said about Nicolle.

Pearce said after her record 29, she felt very intimidated about what came after and her life was not as insane going through a divorce and a global pandemic.

“As a songwriter you want to write things that are true and you want to write things that are true to you and I just didn’t know what that next chapter looked like,” Pearce said. “If any of you have experienced heartbreak, you know that trying to trust somebody else after somebody has hurt you is very hard.”

Pearce said Clawson also wrote many of the songs that will be on her new album in addition to “Trust Issues.”

Tonight’s performance was comedian and actor, Rob Schneider with Byron Kennedy and tomorrow will be the Demolition Derby at 7:30 p.m.