Starting with Jake: Country newcomer opens for Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood

Friday, October 20, 2006

For Jake Owen, the best professional development comes from watching.

Over the summer, the country newcomer went on tour with Kenny Chesney and Dierks Bentley to promote his debut album "Startin' With Me." Now he's traveling the nation with two other country superstars -- Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. That journey will bring Owen to Cape Girardeau Saturday when he opens for the two stars.

For Owen, there's no better way to start what he hopes will be a long and prosperous career in country music. He has nothing but praise for Paisley's well-known musicianship, and for Underwood's sweet voice and even sweeter personality.

"The cool thing about Brad Paisley as an artist is that he's an amazing musician, a great singer and he writes his own songs," Owen said Thursday from his tour bus. "What better person to learn from?"

Learning comes by playing before thousands of people, too, which Owen will do Saturday. Show Me Center marketing director Shannon Buford said Thursday that more than 4,500 tickets had been sold, and he hopes for sales of over 5,000.

Even before he hit the road with Paisley, Owen took a cue from the chart-topping singer-songwriter -- like Paisley, Owen writes and performs his own songs. All the songs on his debut are either written or co-written by Owen himself. The sounds range from the rock-tinged opener "The Bad in Me," the bluesy riffs of the raucous honky-tonker "Yee Haw," the modern country pop of "Something About a Woman," to the heartfelt balladry of the title track.

For Owen, recording and performing his own songs is priority for his music career.

"I've always felt that the songs that I write, they mean more to me," Owen said. "As an artist you get out there and sing your songs ... you're a more viable artist. By writing my own songs, it's more believable."

But writing songs is something that came late for Owen. Unlike many musicians, he didn't have dreams of playing for thousands of people when he was a child. His dream was to be a professional golfer -- when he was a freshman in college, a water-skiing accident ended the Florida native's golfing career.

Owen said music "really never crossed my mind until that accident."

In search of something to ease his disappointment, Owen picked up a guitar. He started learning songs from all genres and began to play for crowds at college bars in Tallahassee, Fla. Owen said he became a "human jukebox" so he could please those crowds, letting them hear what they want.

"I got to play on a stage in front of a bunch of college kids every week a few nights a week for a lot of people who didn't really care if I was there or not," said Owen. "I was just background music."

He soon moved to Nashville, where a chance encounter with a bank teller would put Owen in touch with the country music industry. By the time he played for executives, he had a large catalogue of his own songs.

Soon he was cutting his own record and hitting the road. His first single hit the top 15 in the country charts, and his good looks didn't hurt.

Every where he goes, Owen said people talk about his looks in radio station interviews. But Owen doesn't want to be a "poster boy clichZ." He wants people to respect him for his music.

"I'm flattered that people would say that about me, but at the same time I don't want that to be who I am," Owen said. "Man, that's not me at all. I'd rather be remembered and thought of as a great singer, songwriter and performer."

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Want to go?

* What: Brad Paisley's "Time Well Wasted" Tour with Carrie Underwood and Jake Owen

* When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21

* Where: Show Me Center

* Info: 651-5000

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