The name of Jake Owen’s tour this summer is “Life’s Whatcha Make It,” and it sounds like that’s a mantra for where he is in his career and life right now. The singer brought his tour – a collection of stops at baseball stadiums throughout the United States – to West Tennessee this past Friday (June 15), and Sounds Like Nashville was there to see the singer get a little emotional in the days before Father’s Day as he had a special guest on the road with him. His daughter, Pearl, was his touring partner for the weekend, and he was very mindful of that.
“Playing minor league baseball stadiums is awesome. Just walking in here is incredible. First of all, I never in a million years thought I would have the blessing of being a father of a little girl, but to have her on my shoulders walking in – she’s on the road this weekend with me for Father’s Day – and seeing ‘Jake’ on the big screen, and knowing we’re at the level where we are playing baseball stadiums is something that blows my mind. I don’t take any of this for granted. I know that not only myself, but all the people around me have worked so hard to get here. It’s a big deal, one that means everything to me.”
Happy Fathers Day. No matter what you do, be there for them. You are their guiding light. This might be one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever seen, shot by my friend @matthewpaskert tonight. Literally, 30 min ago. I was lucky enough to have Pearl in the road with me all weekend. Usually she falls asleep or wants to go on the bus and play @barbie. Tonight she hung all the way until the encore. Rock on Pearl.
Playing in Jackson, Tennessee at the home of the minor-league Jackson Generals was a look that was a little familiar for Owen. “I grew up in Florida where the Dodgers did their spring training. When they weren’t there, we had the Vero Beach Dodgers, a lot like they have here in Jackson, [the Generals are] a minor-league team for the Arizona Diamondbacks. This team is a big deal to the town of Jackson, and that’s why it’s so fun to come in here and put up our stage, and play some songs for these people.”
Does Owen have any childhood memories of athletic triumphs on the diamond? You better believe it! “I would have to say it would probably be winning the county championship in Little League with my twin brother. We were on a team called the Charlie Browns. We played a great year of baseball, and it was a lot of fun. I was the catcher, and my brother was the pitcher. I don’t see my twin brother a lot because I don’t get back home a lot, so any memory of him growing up is a big deal for me.”
Also a big deal for Owen is the line-up he has put together for the tour – Chris Janson and Jordan Davis. “Chris has so much passion for everything he does. You put him on stage and he’s a firecracker. He’s going to jump all over the stage and set it on fire. I love having him with us because of what he brings entertainment-wise, and the kind of guy he is. I’ve gotten to know Jordan this year, and he’s just had his first No. 1, so it’s a big deal for him to be out here. It’s a good package. It’s hard to put together a great package, and it’s worked out really well.”
A business move that seems to be working out great for Owen is his recent move to Big Loud, where his current single “I Was Jack (You Were Diane),” has been greeted with overwhelming response – already sitting in the top ten on the airplay charts and climbing. The move (and the song) seem to have reinvigorated Owen a bit. “I don’t look at the charts each week to see where it’s at. I’m sure the people that do that job can tell you. I can tell you that people sing along every night, and I sing it at the top of my lungs with them. The fact that I can be out here with people singing the lyrics back to me after all these years is still a big deal to me. I don’t take any of it for granted.”
While we were there, SLN also caught up with Janson, who is riding a wave of successes into the tour. Did being at the home of the Generals bring back any special memories for the former athlete? “My dad would always wait until all the cool kids got picked, and then he would put together a team of all the ones that got left out, and he would coach them. We actually won one year. I always respected my dad for doing that. I played baseball, football and a little bit of soccer all the way through school, but I hadn’t picked up a bat in about fifteen years, so it was cool to do that.”
Janson says that he is planning to enjoy himself on the tour – a lot. “Working with Jake is great. He’s a people guy. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He’s treated us well. We’re old friends, and Jordan is a great guy and a great hang. Of all the tours I’ve been a part of, this one has the most camaraderie. It all came to fruition with Jake and I talking backstage at the Merle Haggard tribute concert a year ago. It’s working really well.”
Of course, Janson is having an incredible 2018, with two major career milestones. In March, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry – something he’s dreamed of for years. “I said from the beginning that my biggest goal besides being played on the radio was to be an Opry member. It’s an elite group and I’m so honored and humbled to be a part of. Being ‘A Star of the Grand Ole Opry’ – that phrase goes back to the beginning of Country Music.”
And, there is also the resounding success of the second single from his latest album, Everybody, “Drunk Girl,” which he says continues to make a huge career impact. “I had no idea just how impactful that it was. I don’t keep up with numbers or metrics, that kind of thing., but I can tell you that in its first week the video for ‘Buy Me A Boat’ had 180,000 views, and ‘Drunk Girl’ had over one million. I think there’s something to be said for that.”