Almost three dozen Jake Owen Fan Club members traveled from near (Orlando, Palm Beach) and far (Washington, Oregon and Virginia) to Vero Beach, Florida, last weekend to welcome Jake Owen back to his home town before his annual charity event, Mardy’s Tennis & Jake’s Music Fest.
The unofficial fan gathering was organized by fans for fans through
the forum and chat room on Jake’s website, www.JakeOwen.net
and the “fan tweet” Twitter account http://twitter.com/
Fans toured the beautiful beach community, picked up Jake Owen sheet music at the Melody Music store where Jake bought his first guitar, and gathered for a pre-concert happy hour at the Riverside Cafe, the site of many of Jake’s early performances. Happy hour included a signed CD giveaway sponsored by Live at the Longhorn, and a photo exchange where fans swapped their favorite Jake pictures. Wanting to give back to the community that gave them Jake, fans also collected $150 for a local food bank.
The concert-goers at Vero Beach High School were an interesting mix of rabid fans who wanted to dance in their seats and locals who kept telling us to sit down and be quiet. It was an uneasy peace but fans were respectful of the older audience members’ wishes, at least until the last 20 minutes of the show, when many of us went to the front of the stage and refused to be moved. We just couldn’t keep still one moment longer!
Jake put on an amazing performance of old, new and cover songs, and despite having his friends and family sitting in the front row, didn’t turn down the sexy one bit. “Eight Second Ride,” “The Long Way Home” and “Whatever Turns You On” got the crowd going, and his version of “Slow Hand” had even some of the retirees in the audience swooning.
Hearing Jake’s autobiographical songs “Starting With Me” and “Somewhere in the Middle” had a special poignancy performed on the stage of the high school he graduated from in 2000, and as he chatted and joked with friends and fans from the stage, the event couldn’t have been more personal. It was definitely the best Jake Owen performance I’ve seen, and that’s saying a lot because I’ve never seen Jake put on anything less than an great show.
The highlight for many that evening was meeting Jake after the show, where he Jake gave out autographs and hugs. Fans also chatted with band members and staffers, who were all so appreciative of the fans’ loyalty and enthusiasm.
The actual concert raised thousands of dollars for the Mardy Fish and Jake Owen Foundation, which sponsors after school activities at four local elementary schools. A pre-concert auction raised $15,100, and I seriously considered mortgaging my house to bid on the best item of the evening – the chance to go on tour with Jake, including all access passes, travel on his tour bus and the opportunity to watch a show from anywhere in the house – “except Jake’s lap,” the auctioneers joked.
The fan trip to Vero Beach, dubbed the unofficial “First Annual Jake Owen Fan Club Fly-In,” was a great success and shows that fans don’t have to wait for labels or fan clubs to arrange events for them – we’re doing it ourselves now via the internet. See everyone next year!