If you have been reading Country’s Chatter for a while now, you know how much I like Jake Owen. I hope you all read the show review I put up after seeing him at our local fair back in August 2008. If you missed that article, please click here to read it. I referred to Jake as “a people-person.” And, if you read it then, you might want to have another look at it. After seeing Jake at the Washington County Fair in Abingdon, Va., back in 2009, I put up an article saying Jake was “one of country music’s best.” Hope you will have a look at that article by clicking here.
Tonight I got to see Jake on the stage in Gray, Tenn. I am very happy to say that he still puts on a great show. He’s talented, he works the stage well. He interacts with his band – though not quite as much as some artists I’ve seen lately. He sings some new songs, some of his older songs, and some songs that were never his – but he does a great job with each and every one of them. He still knows how to work his audience, and make sure they are going to hear the music they know and love him for. He still does the traditional Meet & Greet, and it was very nice to get to talk to him for a minute without feeling as if we were being pushed and rushed through the M&G line. However, he did not come out to sign autographs after the show, which he has done every time I saw him previously. In fact, his merchandise guy told us that he has only done that about two times in the last six months. I just hope Jake isn’t getting so big, that he is beginning to forget about the people who helped him get to that point in his career.
Now that you know the things I loved about tonight’s show – I really feel that I have to tell you some of the things that I noticed changing with Jake. Back in 2008, Jake came out before the show to do a live radio interview with WXBQ. This is our awesome country radio station, and they play a major role each year in supporting the fair every way they can. While Jake was out doing that 2008 interview, some of his fans were right there watching, taking pictures, and listening to him answer questions for Marc Tragler, WXBQ on-air personality who was doing the interview (2008 interview photo above). Jake didn’t just do the interview and run back to the bus to hide, he did the interview, talked to fans – I mean he hung out with his fans. He took a spin around the fairgrounds on a Can-Am, and he gave us all the impression that he just wanted to be part of our gang.
This year, there was a radio interview, I think. I’m not sure. It was supposed to be done out under the WXBQ tent. Bur for some reason, they took our d.j., and his computer, and went back behind the stage somewhere to record the interview that would be played later on the radio station. I assume ‘later’ meant a few minutes after they recorded it – but who knows. By that time, the live broadcast at the fair was over, the speakers were turned off, and if the interview aired, we never heard it. I’m not pointing fingers here – I would if I knew where to point them. But I don’t know who made that decision to hold the interview somewhere other than where the fans were waiting for Jake to come talk, wave, smile, and let us hear the answers to those interview questions.
By now, it should appear I’m in a mood to complain and whine – and I guess I am. My next complaint isn’t really toward Jake, but it is about at the rudest group of fans I have ever seen in my entire life. That, I’m afraid to say was about 95 percent of the audience. I do need to say ‘thank you’ to the few that I worked my way past to get the photos I wanted. And the ones who were nice enough to offer a few of the shorter kids a closer spot near the stage. I definitely understand getting all hyped up for a concert. I definitely understand wanting to get up out of your seat EVERY NOW AND THEN. I understand wanting to jump up and down and scream when a fast song is being played. I do not, however, understand why this group of fans stood up and stayed up the entire concert, without giving any though to the short people behind them who probably never did get a look at Jake during the entire performance. In the row behind me, there were three young girls – I would guess they were between 8 and 13 years old. They were short, and they could not see anything. The only aisle they might have taken to the front of the stage to grab a photograph or two was completely blocked by fans who were not only sanding up – but were standing in the aisle, instead of standing at their seat, making it impossible for the smaller people in the audience to see a thing all night.
I said I wasn’t sure who was to blame for that. And I’m really not. I understand Jake enjoys the popularity he has gained – as well he should. I’m glad he knows we want to take his picture, and he seems to want to let us. And I’m sure he likes having the fans line that catwalk (which, incidentally, he uses very well – getting close enough to touch the chosen few who were lining the runway and could get a handshake, hug, or photo. I hope Jake is reading this. I hope his band is reading this, and I hope his management is reading this. Because I want to tell you something about a concert I was at years ago – it wasn’t Jake, it was Trisha Yearwood. And here’s the relevance… Trisha was at a spot on the stage where she could clearly see there were a lot of fans unable to watch the show because so many were standing. Trisha stopped her show, and said, “Please, sit down everyone. You are making me nervous.” I know we weren’t making her nervous. And I know she enjoyed the attention as much as any other artist would. But she stopped and thought about the people in the audience who could not see. And she did something about it.
I understand I’m older than the average concert-goer. And I know that everyone at that show paid for their seat. So you might say, “they paid for the seat, if they want to stand, they should be able to stand.” But consider this fact…the rest of the people paid for their seat too, and if they wanted to sit, they should have been allowed to sit – and they should have been able to see the show while they were sitting in the seats that they, too, paid for.
One more complaint – and then we’ll put a few more pictures up for all of you. Maybe this is because Jake just came from the Brothers of the Sun STADIUM tour with Kenny and Tim. But someone running that sound tonight seemed to forget that he wasn’t playing to a STADIUM tonight. It was a small fair. With a bleacher seating area; people standing all around the perimeter of the stage area, and 1,200 people in the reserved seating space. It was NOT a stadium. And the music did not have to be so loud that it seemed like the sound people were trying to fill every inch of a stadium. This was a small area. If I were the only person who thought it was too loud, I would just say that’s because I’m old. But unfortunately, I heard more than one person in their 20s (and perhaps younger) mention that the music was so loud, it caused the lyrics to be a little hard to understand. I think most of us know all the words to Jake’s songs anyway. But we would still have liked to hear them clearly.
So there you have it – the good, and the not so good – from tonight’s show. Would I go see Jake again? Absolutely! I still think the kid is very good at what he does. And I really hope he, his band, his management, and anyone else involved with what he does will give just a little consideration to what I’ve said here tonight.
We have five more nights of fair – so I’ll be back with five more nights of concert reviews, or at the very least – pictures. Now, I’m off to bed!