OFFSTAGE: Back When Jake Owen Was Just a Fan

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Before Jake Owen was, well, Jake Owen, he was a country fan exactly like the ones roaming the streets of Nashville last week during the CMA Music Festival (back when it was still called Fan Fair). “I came to Fan Fair a few times, and then when I moved to town — but before I had my record deal — I’d always come to watch my favorite artists,” Owen told me before his own fan club party on Thursday (June 6). “I mean, I’d be at Ronnie Dunn‘s fan club party right now if he was having one. That guy’s incredible.” Owen admitted he stood in line to get Randy Owen‘s autograph and almost wore his Alabama fan club T-shirt to his own party that day. He also said he’d like to join more fan clubs because so many artists inspire him with the way they treat their fans. “There are a few people through the years that you hear who have been so good to their fans. Like Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift,” he told me. “It’s important. Because long after the music stops and you walk off stage, that’s the impression you leave on people.”

Personally, this was my very first fan club party. And, I liked it. This one had beer (even at 9 a.m.), a baby (Owen’s daughter Pearl in a bright yellow romper) and about 300 country-loving fans packed into the Bridge Building to hear Owen sing about 10 tunes ( “I Like You a Lot” was one I loved a lot) and answer about a dozen questions. Owen is kind of like an open book and will tell anybody anything. His fans seemed to love that about him. And the fact that he brought his baby girl? That just ups Owen’s endearing reputation. “This is Pearl’s first fan club party,” Owen told the crowd. “And so she woke up with a big smile on her face.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.