(Bruce Baker/McCook Daily Gazette)
Hamilton is a native and 2002 graduate of Hayes Center, who also earned a degree in HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) from MPCC in North Platte, Nebraska. His condition has resulted in scarring of his hands to the degree that he is having difficulty holding hand tools. This weekend's benefit concert seeks to raise funds for possible treatments for Hamilton's condition, including bone marrow transplants and blood transfusions.
The concert is scheduled for Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Hayes Center High School Gym. The featured act, 15-year-old Easton Hamlin of Nashville, Tennessee, stopped by the Gazette Wednesday afternoon to raise awareness for the concert and Hamilton's situation.
Hamlin is a native of rural Kansas and has the neighborly persona Southwest Nebraskans tend to foster in their youth. He said he learned about Justin Hamilton this summer, while in McCook for a performance at the Loop Brewing Company, and is hopeful this weekend's concert will help him get the treatment he needs.
While Hamlin is young himself, he already has more than a decade of singing experience under his belt, experiences any performer would be proud to have on their resume, such as opening for the likes of Chris Ledoux at the age of six when Ledoux performed in Hamlin's hometown of Liberal.
More recently Hamlin has had a busy year performing in a wide array of venues, ranging from a May performance at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to the performance at Loop Brewing Company this summer.
A little more than three years ago Hamlin's family moved from their farm and ranch north of Liberal, Kansas, to Nashville, Tennessee, a move directly related to Hamlin's pursuit of a musical career. Like many who leave the farm life for the big city, Hamlin told the Gazette it was quite a transition going from a school district of 180 students to one with 250 students in the freshman class.
"It was different, but has been a lot of fun. Nashville is a little, big, town. Definitely the city, but you run into people you know all the time," said Hamlin, explaining that while at a SESAC award ceremony in Nashville he ran into a former neighbor from Liberal, another up and coming country musician by the name of Jerrod Niemann.
Although Hamlin signed with McGhee Entertainment recently, an entertainment company which manages many big name stars including KISS, Rodney Atkins, Clint Black and Hootie and the Blowfish, he has maintained his connection with his rural roots. Hamlin's father is an oil and gas consultant whose work has required regular trips to Southwest Nebraska, which ultimately brought about the performance at Loop Brewing Company and led to this weekend's benefit concert for Justin Hamilton.
Hamlin has been garnering attention for his singing and guitar playing ability since his early years as a performer and when he was 11 began proving himself to be a talented song-writer.
"When I was 13 I opened for Luke Bryan that summer, who is probably the coolest person I know," said Hamlin. Hamlin explained that when Bryan met him he said in the most complimenting manner, "So you're that Karoake Kid I been hearing about." The comment was certainly a compliment coming from Bryan at the time, and accurate considering Hamlin was primarily playing backup tracks of other performers material, "but I decided then I wasn't singing a backup track again," said Hamlin with a chuckle.
For more about Hamlin, or to hear tracks from his most recent album, visit: www.eastonhamlin.com