The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sunday Profile

July 13, 2014

Days of Jake

Southern West Virginians — Take off your shoes, put on your favorite pair of blue jeans and get ready for a night of country music with Jake Owen.

Owen will be making a stop right here in Beckley July 19 at the Friends of Coal Auto Fair during his “Days of Gold” tour.

“The tour is going great so far,” Owen said while on his way to Pennsylvania for a show. “It’s been a lot of fun and I’m really enjoying it.”

The rising country star grew up on the beaches of Florida, but he’ll be taking in a beautiful mountain view next weekend.

Although he’s never been to Beckley before, Owen has made many other stops here in the Mountain State and said it’s one of the prettiest states he’s visited.

“I’ve been to Morgantown and all over. I love West Virginia, it’s great. I love the people there. They’re all really nice and they love country music.”

Although Owen focused his career on country music, he enjoys a variety of genres and was exposed to a wide variety of artists growing up.

He and his dad listened to country together, while his college-age older brother brought home all the newest popular music.

Owen laughed as he described his mom’s musical preferences — “She liked all the Barrys,” Barry Manilow and Barry White in particular.

“It’s funny how you pick up on music from the people around you as a kid.”

He said over the years, so many people have asked him who his musical influences are, or who is favorite band or musician is, but he never has a consistent answer.

“I just love all music. I like Jimmy Buffett, I like Alabama, I like Snoop Dogg.”

Even though Owen always had a love of music, his career might have never taken off had it not been for an injury.

Owen had been playing golf for several years and was even playing for Florida State’s golf team, but he suffered a severe shoulder injury while wake boarding.

While he was recovering, he realized even though his left arm was in a sling, he could still hold a guitar. He had always wanted to learn to play, so he decided that was the perfect opportunity.

He started writing his own songs and began playing around town at local bars.

“My friends enjoyed it and I was getting paid to play and getting free beer,” he said with a laugh. “So once I picked it up, it kind of occurred to me, maybe I should do this for a living.”

Owen gathered up the courage to pack up and head off to Nashville. And now, just a few years later, he’s married with a baby girl, and countless songs on the radio.

“I’m in a place in my life where I think daily, ‘How did this happen?’”

He said it’s surreal when he’s driving with his wife in the passenger seat and his little girl riding in the back and one of his songs comes on the radio and she’ll exclaim, “Da Da!”

“It just feels amazing.”

Owen said he feels truly blessed to be able to perform and tour, and especially to sing songs like “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” and “Beachin’” that represent who he is and where he grew up.

He said he’s been working during the “Days of Gold” tour to make each night a bit better than the last, so next year when he’s out on the road again, those who came to the shows will come back and those who didn’t won’t want to miss out.

Proceeds from the Friends of Coal Auto Fair will benefit youth programs at the YMCA of Southern West Virginia and Owen said he is thrilled to be a part of such a great cause.

“I love kids and I always love giving back to children and charities that take care of our youth.”

He said fans can expect a fun night at the concert — “I want to give everybody that comes out the good time they came out to have.”

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