Country music artist Dustin Lynch grew up loving the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles superheroes and the music of Garth Brooks.
He outgrew the turtles, but not Brooks.
Lynch is the featured main stage entertainer Aug. 23 at the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo in Kennewick.
"Garth Brooks was always my hero," Lynch told the Herald. "I was freaked when I got to meet him a few years ago. I was like a little girl I was so excited. All I could do was thank him for inspiring me musically."
Lynch was signed to the Broken Bow Record company in 2011 and released his debut single Cowboys and Angels in 2012. It reached No. 2 on the Billboard country music charts. His new album, Where It's At, will be released Sept. 9.
Lynch, who grew up in Tennessee, is called the next George Strait because of his youthful good looks, wholesome persona and classic sensibilities.
Lynch is honored yet surprised by the compliment.
"It shocks me that people would compare me to the legendary George Strait, but I'll take it," he quipped.
He figures it might have something to do with how he combines traditional country with a more edgy tone that is rocking the contemporary country music scene.
He has opened for Keith Urban during his Light the Fuse tour and writes music for other artists as well as himself. He also pitches some of his songs to other artists.
"When I first started pitching my songs, no one knew who I was, so it was a slow process back then," Lynch said. "But it's crazy what music can do. I'll do a show and have people come up to me in tears because they are getting to share a story about how my songs have affected their life.
"That's so inspiring. I know now that a song can really affect someone's life, and that's what makes me want to keep doing the best I can do."
His hit single, Cowboys and Angels, was inspired by the love he saw between his grandparents growing up.
He told Radio.com magazine earlier this year that after 59 years of marriage, his grandparents still have fun together.
"They still go fishing together," he said. "It's a beautiful thing, and they are definitely great role models."
Lynch is looking forward to returning to the Northwest, though this will be his first appearance in the Tri-Cities, he said.
"My new favorite place is the Pacific Northwest," he said. "I never knew about it growing up in the South. But I love it there."
Showtime is 7:30 p.m. The concert is included in admission to the fair, but reserved seats are an additional $15.
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal