Jake Owen is sticking up for his friend Chase Rice after he received a particularly negative comment following his concert in East Tennessee this weekend, where around 1,000 people packed into a venue and appeared not to be wearing masks. In the comments on Rice's Instagram, songwriter Abe Stoklasa called Rice a "f—ing disaster," writing, "You don't even sing well. Just retire and do the world a favor."
"You sound like if Sam hunt took a s— seven years ago and somehow grew a mouth and learned protools," Stoklasa added in another comment. "My whole industry hates you." Owen saw Stoklasa's comments and responded, calling him a "talented, smart guy." "Why lower yourself to a post like this? It's sad man," he continued. "What you said is ridiculous. 'Hate?'... you're gonna use a word like that, in a time like this? Chase is my friend. I am a part of this industry, and trust me it's not just yours. I stick up for my friends. I've always thought you were a great musician, songwriter and voice. You are better than this. That was straight ignorant thing to say."
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Owen also used Twitter to subtweet other country artists who have criticized Rice in the wake of the concert, including Kelsea Ballerini, Cam, Mickey Guyton and Will Hoge. "In a world full of hate, be a light," he wrote, quoting Thomas Rhett's song "Be A Light." I swear I've heard that on OUR country radio stations. It's amazing how many country artists, songwriters and media outlets are quick to throw shade at our own people. Sad really."
On Saturday night, Rice performed at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, a former prison turned entertainment venue. He posted a clip of the show to his Instagram Story with the caption "We back," which resulted in swift backlash criticizing him for holding the show in the first place. On Monday, he shared a video on Instagram discussing the situation and declaring that "everybody had a blast" at the show.
"Once I posted the video, a lot of people seeing that online had a big problem with how the show looked, how the show went down," he said. "And I understand, there's a lot of varying opinions, a lot of different opinions on covid-19, how it works with live music, crowds and what all that looks like." Rice added that fans' safety is a "huge priority." "My biggest thing is y'all," he said. "Y'all are why I get to write songs, y'all are why I get to tour the country, why I get to do live shows... you guys are everything to me, so your safety is a huge, huge priority."