I’ve never been disappointed by a Jake Owen show (except maybe when the set is too short). If you’re looking for traditional country, rock, pop, or a mixture of all of the above, you’ll find it when Jake takes the stage.
The packed concert Friday night at the State Fair of Virginia left the crowd wanting more even after the two-plus hour set. From the screaming teen-aged girls crowding the front of the stage, the cruising “cougars” close behind, middle-aged grandmas, little kids scattered about and good-old-boys young and old lined up near the beer tent and filling in the middle and spilling out the sides, everyone got what they came for – and more.
You can’t find a much better song than “Yee-Haw” to open a state fair in the South on a Friday night, and Jake’s party anthem got the crowd going from the first note. The crowd was singing along by the first chorus and pretty much kept singing for the length of the show. Everyone seemed to know Jake’s hits and he sprinkled in enough country classics to please even those who didn’t.
Jake could sing the phone book and sound great, of course. He showed his versatility and creativity by mixing and matching covers within his own songs, including a great mash-up of Alabama’s “Tennessee River” and “Mountain Music” with his own “8 Second Ride.” You have to hear it to understand just how perfectly those songs work together!
His covers of Randy Travis’s “Deeper Than the Holler” and John Anderson's "Money in the Bank" show his country roots are deep and strong, and demonstrate the skill of his steel guitar player – a new and outstanding addition to his band since I last saw Jake in June.
The crowd also got to hear a few new songs the Jake said may be on his next CD, including “Setting the World on Fire” and my favorite (at least so far) “Help Me Help You Get Him Off of Your Mind” (I think that’s the title – sorry if I’m wrong!). He did the latter as a solo acoustic encore, which he described as "Just me, a guitar and the audience -- the way it all started."
(Not the best sound quality but not bad considering it came from my phone!)
Jake really does everything he can to get as up close and personal with the audience, climbing rigging and speakers, walking along stage gear clearly not meant to be trod upon and generally doing everything he can to get that much closer to the fans. In fact, I’ve only seen one other artist pay as close attention to the crowd as Jake does -- the other being the equally acrobatic and enthusiastic Dierks Bentley.
Jake didn’t actually jump into the crowd at this show (yes, I have seen him do that!) but he was paying close attention, which is a good thing for one fan Friday night, who somehow became ill or injured during the set. Jake noticed the problem and immediately called for help, even stopping the music to get the packed-in crowd to open up and allow medical personnel get through. It really says something about an artist who looks out for his fans that much. What a class act!
If Jake Owen comes to a fair or other small venue in your area, make sure you don’t miss him. You may not get many more opportunities to see this rising star in a small venue. With this kind of talent and stage persona, he’ll be headlining soon and you’ll have missed your chance!