We all know that country music has singers, and country music has entertainers. Tonight at the Appalachian Fair in Gray, Tenn., I saw one performer wear both of those hats. Jake Owen does more than sing, he entertains. And he loves what he does.
I got to the fair grounds around 3 p.m. I heard music. Not unusual, I just assumed that they had started the sound check for Jake’s 8 p.m. show. I’ve been around fairs and concerts long enough to know what a sound check is. Sometimes you get one guy running around from one microphone to the next going “testing, testing” …. and sometimes you get a guy on a guitar hitting a note here or there. And sometimes you get the headliner out on stage for 5 or 10 minutes to actually sing a note or two. But let me tell you what I saw when I walked past the Main Stage this afternoon.
Jake was on the stage, and so was his band. They weren’t just doing a sound check, they were rehearsing some new material, and actually doing a concert for the 5 or 6 people who were there early enough to see them. Some were sitting inside the stage area; some were standing outside the fence; all of us had cameras – and all of were enjoying what we were seeing. He really loves what he does. You would have thought he was playing to thousands, but he poured everything he had into playing for the 5 or 6 of us, and turned that sound check into a real show.
But I learned a lot more about Jake tonight, too. Between that hour (and then some) sound check, and his 8 p.m. concert, Jake came out with us. With the people who worked at the fair, with the people who had exhibits at the fair, with the radio people from WXBQ, and with the fans. He was just there. And so easy to talk to. He is definitely a “people-person.” And, we sure could use a few more of those in country music. Jake even took a few minutes to enjoy a ride around the fair grounds on an ATV. Looking good, Jake!
Jake was traveling with his dog Amos, who got out for an unplanned run – fortunately, Chris Crumley, who is on staff at the fair, outran the dog and carried him back to the fenced in back stage area. What a cute little dog… I’m glad he got back safely. When I saw that dog take off, I was really worried that he was gone.
Most of Jake’s fans know that he will be celebrating his 27th birthday next week, but since he was here tonight, we decided to give him a little birthday card, and sing Happy Birthday to him on stage. I owe a really huge thank you to Myron Howell, Jake’s drummer, for making that little surprise a reality. You’re a sweetheart, Myron.
And thanks to the other band members, who helped make that absolutely fantastic concert so much fun… David Wallace, guitar; Billy Welch, keyboards; Bryan Dixson, Steel guitar; and Robbie Emerson, bass.
Last night, after I wrote about Josh Gracin and his “fan-friendly” show, I didn’t think I’d be doing it again in the same fair week. But Northeast Tennessee has really been blessed to have Josh and Jake at the same fair, two nights in a row. Their music is different, and their shows are different, but they are both entertainers, they both love what they do, and they both appreciate the fans coming out to see them.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words … so, I think we’ll just get a few more of those up here for you all to enjoy.
Thanks again, Jake, for coming out to the fair in Gray, and for putting on such a great show for all of you fans. I think this was a performance people will be talking about for a long time. And, you need to hurry back to our area again real soon. We loved having you.
That’ll take care of tonight’s blog. Be sure to check back tomorrow night for some pictures from Heidi Newfield’s Appalachian Fair concert. And keep writing everyone. I love hearing from you, and I really enjoy your mail!