published Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Bethel Country Connection concert Thursday

Love and Theft is Eric Gunderson, left, and Stephen Barker Liles.
Love and Theft is Eric Gunderson, left, and Stephen Barker Liles.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.


What: Bethel Country Connection concert.

When: 6-11 p.m. today, May 15.

Where: Chattanooga Convention Center, 1 Carter Plaza.

Admission: $125.

Phone: 423-842-5757, ext 233.

Email: Pam Keith at


Not all singers are songwriters, and vice versa, but five performers who can do both are set for the Bethel Country Connection concert tonight, May 15, at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

The show -- starring Craig Morgan, the duo Love and Theft, Neil Thrasher and Kelley Lovelace -- is part of the Bethel Classic Weekend, the annual benefit for Bethel Bible Village. Long associated with entertainer Pat Boone, the fundraising weekend has been hosted since 2012 by Lovelace, a Hixson High School graduate and Grammy-nominated songwriter.

The third annual edition of the Bethel Country Connection will again find the performers taking the stage to offer the backstory on how their hits were inspired.

Lovelace, one of Nashville's top songwriters, has had 20 Top 10 songs on various charts, 16 of which reached the No. 1 position. His songs have been recorded by a who's who of artists, and he's logged multiple hits with Terri Clark, Carrie Underwood and Joe Nichols (including the Grammy-nominated "The Impossible"). His best track record is with buddy Brad Paisley. They co-wrote "He Didn't Have To Be," the breakthrough song for both.

Morgan is known for such hits as "That's What I Love About Sunday" and "Redneck Yacht Club."

Love and Theft, the duo responsible for the singles "Angel Eyes" and "Runaway," is fronted by Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson. They were recently nominated as Duo of the Year by the Academy of Country Music.

Thrasher has written multiple hits for Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Diamond Rio, Andy Griggs, Randy Houser, Reba McEntire and Rascal Flatts, including the chart-topper "Fast Cars and Freedom."

The evening also will include a barbecue dinner and live and silent auctions. Among the one-of-a-kind items up for bids are a day with Lovelace in his studio creating a song, the stools used during the concert and autographed by the performers, sports and country music memorabilia and a two-night stay at a North Carolina bed-and-breakfast.

The fundraising weekend continues Friday and Saturday, May 16-17, with the 42nd annual Bethel Golf Classic at Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.

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