Chart-topper Love and Theft hits local stage

By: Eileen Wilson Telegraph Correspondent
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Love and Theft, a duo out of Nashville, will steal away from their Southern home for a quick tour that includes one stop in the Sacramento area. Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson will bring their brand of country music to Powerhouse Pub on Thursday, Feb. 17. The duo came together in Nashville, by chance, and to those who have seen their on-stage chemistry, it’s obvious why they stay together. With a passion for music, and a special passion for songwriting, the men are happiest when they’re putting heads together in a writing session, or touring throughout the country. “We love being on the road — we love playing live. We’re road dogs,” Barker Liles said. And it’s that passion to make music that fans respond to. “World Wide Open,” the group’s debut album, and “Runaway,” which was 2009’s highest-charting debut single, have exploded on the music scene. “Runaway” hit the top 10 on both Billboard and Mediabase country charts. With early musical influences from favorites like the Eagles and Elvis, Barker Liles was born to make music. “We grew up listening to a lot of classic rock,” Barker Liles said. George Strait influenced the group as well, though Love and Theft has a decidedly different sound. “We’re country with a little rock influence, but our sound is really harmony driven,” he said. “We have a lot of melodies with a hook.” And both men take turns singing melody and harmony — a unique difference from most bands, that is perfectly suited to two muscular, yet melodious voices. As much as Barker Liles and Gunderson love performing, writing songs is the reason they both moved to Nashville six years ago. They write their own material, and write for other artists as well. “We’ve written for Martina McBride, Sawyer Brown and other artists, too,” Barker Liles said. Writing songs for superstars is all in a days’ work for these two, and performing with superstars is, as well. Love and Theft has performed with greats like Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum. “Taylor Swift is a sweetheart,” Barker Liles said. And the duo is excited to bring their sweet sound to Powerhouse once again. “We’re going to do an acoustic show — some songs from other artists, and some of our singles, as well,” Barker Liles said. The harmonies are going to be really intense. The harmony creates a great vibe.” Harmony in songs like hit single, Runaway make fans want to sing along. But Love and Theft’s music isn’t just about popularity. Their songs tell a story. “Runaway describes a background of our own story — we both left college; we picked up and moved to Nashville. We both felt we had a calling to make music,” Barker Liles said. “The song is about moving on and moving forward, whether it’s a job, a relationship, or a situation.” Other songs are about principles like integrity and kindness. “‘Dancing in Circles’ is a song about treating people the way you want to be treated,” Barker Liles said. “It’s one of the principles we try to live by, and we have to remind ourselves of.” The duo prides themselves on the fact that fans of all generations can relate to their music and love their sound. “We have a very eclectic group of fans, actually. My grandma likes the music, but so does my niece and nephew. We’ve had three generations come, together, to see a show. Our goal is to be ageless, to be limitless,” he said. Love and Theft is under new management, has signed with a new label, and Barker Liles and Gunderson say they are excited to work on creating new magic in the studio soon, But today, they’re simply focused on raising the roof at Powerhouse, one harmony at a time. * * * KNOW AND GO What: Love and Theft concert When: 9:30 p.m, Thursday Where: Powerhouse Pub, 614 Sutter St., Folsom Admission: $15 Information: powerhouse,