Jake Owen had just performed and was side stage at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night, October 1, when gunman Stephan Paddock opened fire, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more. The Florida native was watching Jason Aldean perform when when the shooting began, and now, ten months later, Owen admits he is still dealing with the aftermath of that tragic event.
“I played a show in El Paso, Texas less than four days after Vegas, and my first thought was, ‘I’ve never walked into a venue I was playing, seen buildings around it, and thought, man, there could be a guy in those buildings shooting at us tonight,'" Owen tells CMT. "I even walked in here today and thought, ‘There are a lot of people here, and there are rooftops all around us.'”
The singer faced a new normal after Route 91, but neither Owen nor other artists who performed that weekend, including Luke Combs, Eric Church, Sam Hunt, Maren Morris and more, were about to let the shooting affect his ability to get up on stage night after night, performing for his fans.
“These people are here to have a good time and it’s up to us to give it to them and not be scared,” Owen maintains. “So that’s what we’ve done since then. The fans are not going to let someone deter them from having a good time. The same way us artists aren’t going to let someone deter us from having a good time. I think we all have that special bond together, and we’ll never forget the way it felt and how that night changed our perception of the way we appreciate our freedom.”
The 36-year-old admits that, while he refuses to live in fear, the incident will forever impact him, and how he interacts with his fans.
"The whole Vegas thing gave me so much perspective, personally," Owen tells Taste of Country. "Now I look out into the crowd of people coming out to enjoy a show differently. They are not only coming out to see an artist they like, but some of them are coming out to escape a little from everyday life. They are there to create memories with the people they love."
"It’s not that I didn’t understand that before — I did," he adds. "But now, more than ever before, my job is to go out there and entertain."0comments
Owen is getting plenty of chances to do that. He is currently headlining his Life's Whatcha Make It Tour, with Chris Janson and Jordan Davis serving as his opening acts. Dates can be found at JakeOwen.net.
Photo Credit: Getty images/Christopher Polk