By the time Jake Owen took the stage at Saturday’s Big O Music Fest, the crowd had already spent nearly nine hours in the sweltering heat. As the summer sun faded into a night sky and Jake, guitar in hand, took the stage, it was apparent to concertgoers: Jake Owen was worth the wait.
“We look forward to coming here and doing our thing,” Jake expressed before the show.
Jake Owen has spent the past few years out on the road as a supporting act for some of country music’s biggest names including Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, and Sugarland. Receiving the opportunity to headline his own shows is a goal that he has long strived for.
“It’s awesome. Especially after all of the years I’ve been building my career and have been out on the road. I’ve put a lot of hard work into it,” the Florida native explained. “When you get to the point where you put the building blocks and foundation together in order to headline your own show, it’s nice.”
His set at Saturday’s Big O Music Fest included a span of hits that date back to 2006, starting with his debut single on RCA Records, “Yee Haw.” Jake Owen has seen a steady growth with his career and he’s perfectly content with that.
“I think the advantage is that you get to learn more along the way; you’re not shoved into the spotlight right off the bat. You’re able to hone your craft behind the scenes while you’re getting played on the radio and playing shows,” Owen says of his climb in the music business. “Everybody is going to learn as they go, but it’s hard to learn when you have to do it in a really quick moment. I’m happy that it took time for me.”
Much of Jake’s headlining gig centered on songs from his most recent full-length release, “Bare Foot Blue Jean Night.” In fact the show’s opener was, “Anywhere With You,” one of four consecutive chart-topping hits. A follow-up album is due in December and Jake isn’t worried about surpassing his previous efforts.
“I’m actually really excited to go forward. It takes some of the pressure off when you start getting big hits. It’s nice to have people believe in what you’re doing and buying into it. If anything, it gets me excited to make some great music.”
Jake’s admiration for other artists is evident, as several cover songs were selected for his set. When Tom Petty recently told Rolling Stone magazine that, “Country music today is just bad rock and roll with a fiddle,” Jake quickly came to the defense of his beloved musical genre.
“I think being defensive on something is a human character trait, especially when someone is treading upon your territory. Whether it’s my family, hometown, or whatever, I’m going to stand up for what I believe in and what I love.”
But don’t think Jake Owen will be organizing boycotts and encouraging fans to toss Tom Petty’s legendary records.
“The funny part of the story is that I’m such a big Tom Petty fan. Will anybody ever be as big as Tom Petty? No. The guy is an icon and always will be, which is why I think it was very cheap of him to make a comment like that in a scenario where it was uncalled for.”
Jake continues, “I just wanted to say that country music is not just bad rock and roll with a fiddle. That’s such a cheap way of summing up a format that is full of amazing artists. I wasn’t just defending it because of myself, because I was offended. I was defending it because there are people, whether it is Jamey Johnson, who makes great music, or Taylor Swift, or Darius Rucker, or Kenny Chesney. There are so many people who have worked hard in this format to make it what it is.”
As Jake Owen worked the stage amid the thousands of fans in Owensboro, Kentucky, he effortlessly collected the crowd in the palm of his hand. The occasional guitar pick tossed into the crowd and a handshake now and then left those close to the stage in shrieks. Prior to the show, Jake treated fan club members and contest winners to a backstage meet and greet consisting of an autograph and photo opportunity with the singer.
Has the singer’s approach of going the extra mile for his fans worked in his favor? Jake thinks so.
“I definitely think it’s been a huge asset to my career. In order to have a career, you have to have people support it. They have to know that you are a good person and show them that you care about them. I think social media and the way it is these days, it’s a really easy way to be in contact with the people that support what I do. I love taking care of people, I’ll always do that.”
Fans at Jake’s show were able to hear a sample of his new music when he performed his latest single, “Days of Gold.” The catchy summer time jam will be featured on his forthcoming album of the same name, due December 3, 2013. Jake’s approach on recording songs is simple and has proved to be effective.
“I think listeners can just expect a lot of songs that are great songs,” Jake says of his next release. “The most important thing for me is that the songs have to be great. In order to have a big career, you have to have career-like songs. They can’t be just mundane or boring songs. I’ve learned that over the years and I’ve spent a lot of time putting together a great album. I’m excited for everyone to hear the new music.”
The estimated 15,000 attentive fans at the Big O Music Fest certainly gave Jake Owen a taste of what he can expect next year when he ventures on his own headlining tour.
“We’re starting off January/February of next year. We’re gonna take off and we’ll be going out all of next year.” Jake announced about his future touring endeavors.
As his performance lasted well into the night, fans were able to witness the results of a man who worked hard to get to the headlining status he has very much earned. His passion and love of music is showcased through the delivery he presents on stage and fans are eager for more. These really are the days of gold for Jake Owen.