BERRIEN SPRINGS — Getting up on stage and performing doesn’t feel like a full-time job for the members of the Eli Young Band.

“It’s just fun. We have 90 minutes to get up there and give it our all,” guitarist James Young said. “It doesn’t feel like work.”

Eli Young Band will headline the Berrien County Youth Fair’s Wednesday grandstand entertainment. The band will be joined by special guest Paul Erdman.

Eli Young Band is known for its unique take on country music – with influences from classic rock to classic country.

“In our roots, we started in Texas,” Young said. “At the time, that was more rocking, more loud guitars, so it was a little different than country at the time. Playing in that circuit with those influences, that had a lot of influence to our sound.”

Young and lead vocalist/guitarist Mike Eli formed the band with bassist Jon Jones and drummer Chris Thompson in 2000, at the University of North Texas.

“We all wanted to do music in some form or fashion, and that’s why we all went to North Texas to purse music,” Young said. “I started paying guitar when I was 10 years old, and always knew I wanted to be on stage.”

He said it wasn’t until college that the four musicians became songwriters.

“We knew we wanted to be successful, but didn’t know how back then,” Young said. “We started as friends first, so we have got in any argument you could in a band at the beginning and got over it. We all have to believe in each other, and we all respect each others’ views on a musical and personal level. It’s been a crazy ride. We’ve been very blessed.”

They released their self-titled debut album in 2002, followed by “Level” in 2005, and opening shows for Miranda Lambert.

Four albums followed, “Jet Black & Jealous,” “Life at Best,” “10,000 Towns” and their latest, “Fingerprints.”

The band has charted eight times on the Billboard country charts, with four of their singles having reached No. 1: “Crazy Girl”, which was the top country song of 2011 according to Billboard Year-End, along with “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” “Drunk Last Night” and “Love Ain’t.”

Young said “Love Ain’t” has been a favorite of concert attendees this summer.

“It’s been exciting to see people singing along with it more and more since we started playing it earlier this year,” he said.

He said fair-goers can expect to hear a little bit of everything from the bands discography at the BCYF.

“We’ve been blessed to have hits over the years, so we play those along with our new stuff because there are some songs we would get tomatoes thrown at us if we don’t play it every night,” he said.

When it comes to those who may not consider themselves country music fans, but still want to enjoy some music at the fair, Young said they’re worth a try.

“Country music has changed so much, it’s ever evolving, and it’s not quite what it used to be,” he said. “I think we, as all lovers of rock music, sort of gravitated to country because rock wasn’t prevalent in that time. We like to turn the guitars up and put on a good show. Country music is just real life stories. That’s always kind of been the theme of country music.”

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