Mike Coppola, WireImage
"She is one of my heroes," Hunter tells The Boot. "We have a lot of mutual business friends, so we figured out a way to buy an iPod nano and put a bunch of my demos on it. There was also a video from me saying, 'I'm a big fan. I want to give this to you, if you have time, to listen to my music. That would be great.' I didn't think she'd have time, she's a bit busy! I met her at the BMI Awards shortly thereafter and she was so kind, complimentary. She had obviously heard the music, she dug it, and she was really cool. A little later on we ended up getting the news that she was putting the tour together."
Hunter says his iPod must have been pretty powerful since shortly thereafter he got a call from his management saying that he would be touring with the superstar and was soon face to face with Taylor herself. "She invited all of the openers to her first show in Omaha, Neb. We got to meet the crew, meet the band, meet her. She straight up came up and said, 'So glad to have you on the tour. I hope you really love the tour. We love having you.' That made me feel really good."
A traveling musician since age four, Hunter has already played in a few of the towns on the trek. "Some of the cities I've been to, some of them I haven't. So that's exciting," he admits. "And then one of them is a big stadium show. Opening for her is cool enough, but doing 10 shows and big arenas like that is huge."
He's also pretty familiar with the 21-year-old Taylor's creative output and has a few favorites. "'Love Story' is a stunning, epic song," he says. "When that came out it was unbelievable. My favorite song depends on the day, what I'm going through, what I'm feeling."
The jury is still out, however, on which tune he'd most like to perform with her. "I haven't settled on one yet," he admits. "I know she did 'Love Story' with Def Leppard. I thought that was so cool. The arrangement on that was really neat. That's something I've got to think about."
Both artists are also songwriters (Hunter co-penned 'Play' for Rascal Flatts), which could lead to some very interesting co-writes. "I love her writing," says Hunter. "If anything, I want to sit her down and go, 'Can I get some notes?' [laughs] A Q&A thing: 'How do you do this? What's your process for this?'"
Hunter, whose debut single for Atlantic Nashville, 'Storm Warning' is out now, played every instrument on his debut album -- yes, you read that correctly, but says concertgoers can expect a simpler stage show from him. "We have time for four songs and we're going to do acoustic adaptations," he says. "It's going to be really cool. We've been working through ideas and dreaming up some stuff. We finally settled on this idea, we're going to try it out a couple times but it's going to be acoustic band renditions of songs from the album. I think we're going to do 'Storm Warning,' I'm not sure. [laughs]"
Hunter hits the road with Taylor July 28 in Grand Rapids, Mich. Get a full list of dates here.