On The Road: Nashville Superstars Band Together To Help One Of Their Own, Mike Owens
Some nights, you are just simply more fortunate than you feel you deserve. Wednesday night happened to be one of those nights for me. Please allow me to explain. This is the third time that I have written this article. Why? Because I didn’t feel what I had written had really captured what happened in Nashville that night. The other incarnations focused too much on the music and the people involved. Please don’t think I’m downplaying all the artists that were involved with this fundraiser that we were fortunate enough to attend that night. Because let me just say it was one of the most incredible nights of music that I have ever witnessed. In fact, if you missed it, go ahead and kick yourself in the ass. I’ll wait.
Seriously though, the music was otherworldly at times and we will get to that, but that wasn’t the story of the night. The story that I want to tell, is the story of music and it’s love that creates a community that becomes family.
*Photo credit: Mike Owens GoFundMe
Mike Owens has been a staple in Nashville for many years. As life ultimately does with everyone, Mike’s health has caught up with him. He has been on the donor list for a kidney for more than two years. He has had medical issues that have ultimately taken one of his legs at the knee. As you can imagine, bills have piled up and there are many modifications needed at his home to allow him mobility.
That’s where Moose Brown enters this story. I had not met Moose before last night. Although we are Facebook friends because he has been writing with Tyler Booth. I had certainly heard lots about him and his accomplishments, but I had no idea of just how kind and genuine he is. Moose and Don Sampson made a few phone calls and put together this fundraiser. Several of the artists that performed, did not even know Mike but did the show out of respect for Moose and Don. That was everything I needed to know about those two individuals, to know that they are great people. The fundraiser brought in over $21,000 to help an individual that they all admired. Music is more than sound and emotion. It is a bond that brings everyone closer together and creates a community that becomes family. That is what I want this story to focus on. In fact, if you would like to help Mike and be a part of that community, you can donate to his GoFundMe page here. I know that everyone involved would truly appreciate that.
Mike was described as someone who always has your back. He is very knowledgeable about music and exudes an admirable passion for music that I felt a kinship to. I’m often described similarly, so I know how embarrassing that can be, but on this night I truly hope that the descriptions of him were taken to heart and he allows himself to understand how much he is loved by all that know him. I am still in awe of those involved and I’m very thankful that I was able to share the night with them.
I did not have the privilege of meeting Mike that night. That was my own choice. He was surrounded by family and friends who were way more important to him than myself. I chose to be respectful instead of selfish. I will say that I do feel as if I know Mike now, through the stories, the music, the camaraderie and the friendships that were shared on the stage painted a picture of a wonderful individual and one that I would really be proud to know.
Now that we understand the reasons why this took place, let’s talk a bit about what happened. Let me preface this by saying, the band that was assembled have been on the recordings on over 500 Million records sold. They did this with no practice. A nearly four-hour show, with no rehearsal. I still can’t wrap my head around that. To say these guys are professionals would be the understatement of my lifetime.
Now, in all fairness, I could write you a lengthy recap of everything that happened, but I really want the focus to be on the first part of this article. So I’ve decided to detail just a few incredible moments. The first big moment was with Brandy Clark. She is an amazing song-writer and artist that I have listened to casually. I have enjoyed her writing for some time, but it was when she sang her song “Daughter”, that myself and the entire audience was hanging onto every word. In fact, the video below is a great representation of how our crowd reacted.
Jerrod Niemann is a name that, if I’m honest, was unknown to. I’m not really much of a terrestrial radio fan, so I had no idea what to expect. I’m very happy to say that Jerrod put on one of my favorite sets of the night. I did recognize his song, “Lover, Lover” though. My wife is a huge fan of newer modern country, so through osmosis, I knew the melody. I left the show as a fan and have been listening through his catalog ever since.
Mike Owens only asked for two favors to happen at his show. He requested that Don Sampson sing his song, “Waiting On A Woman” and Moose sing his “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere”. Do you really think for a second that either of those guys said no? Of course they played them and Mike was ecstatic. There were smiles all over the room. Moose even brought his alter ego to the party, Gilbert Donovan. Gilbert is a character that Moose has fun with when he is out on the road. He introduced himself as an artist that has always had the good looks and talent to get a record deal, but Nashville just doesn’t get him. If you heard his rendition of The Eagles hit, “Tequila Sunrise”, you would completely understand. Jamey Johnson was asking people to pay him $100 to stop singing. Which was hilarious. Check out Gilbert performing with Willie Nelson below to get an idea of his prodigous “talent”.
I briefly touched on Jamey Johnson’s humor above, but I want to say that his wit and charm have never shown brighter in any show that I’ve seen him at. He had everyone there in stitches most all night. From his offhand comments about bidding on this “bag of shit”, to bidding on a basket with a “Willie Nugg” in it, Jamey had us all rolling. He did so in a clever way that ultimately helped raise even more money. Jamey told of an auction that took place in the 1800’s where a town saved an orphanage by bidding on a bag of flour, then giving it back to be auctioned again, over and over until the town had given their all and saved the children. Several times, Jamey coaxed the original winner of an item to give it back to be auctioned again. Classy, clever and super effective. I tip my cap to you, Mr. Johnson, on a job well done.
Randy Houser really put on a powerful performance that saw several people dancing in the aisles and singing along. He certainly had several fans in attendance. I was particularly impressed with his vocal control.
I was also very captivated with an earlier set from Austin’s Rose. They have been working with Moose and they recently signed a management deal, so be on the lookout for the talented duo. Check out their single, “If I Were Your Guitar”, below.
The next big moment was from James Otto. James took a moment to recognize Moose as a member of Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band and seized the moment to perform Bob’s classic hit, “Night Moves.” James’ voice was a perfect fit for the perfect cover song. “Night Moves” was likely the biggest sing-a-long of the night and a moment no one will likely soon forget.
The rest of the night was jaw-dropping and can only be described as epic. We were treated to several songs from Alison Krauss with Jamey Johnson. Alison is an artist that I have always wanted to witness in a live setting. I’ve said many times, that she possesses one of the most hauntingly beautiful female voices that the Earth has ever been blessed with.
They began with a gorgeous rendition of the Hank Cochran penned, “Make The World Go Away”, which was made famous by Mr. Eddy Arnold. They also threw in a cover of Johnny and June Carter Cash’s “Jackson”, but it was two other songs that blew my mind completely. Alison’s classic “Ghost In This House” was the first. When all those harmonies from Randy Houser and Jamey Johnson kicked in, I was immediately covered in chills and every hair on my body stood up. I could feel my mouth agape, but I couldn’t close it. For me, this was my favorite moment of the night.
Well, that was until they began playing Alison’s tribute to the late great Kentuckian, Keith Whitley. Jamey and Alison traded off singing verses before harmonizing together in the chorus of Keith’s classic, “When You Say Nothing At All”. It was so amazing, that it almost felt historic. I know it wasn’t, but it just felt bigger than anything else from that night.
From that point on, dinner had been served and the rest of the night was all dessert. Jamey sang many of his songs, but my favorite moment was hearing the backstory to his hit, “In Color”. James Otto helped write the song and “Rowdy” Cope laid down the guitar work. Both were onstage with Jamey. That certainly made it extra special, but I had one more voice in my ear that only a few could hear. Sitting behind me was none other than Tyler Booth and you’d best believe he was singing along!
What an incredible night, that still wasn’t close to being finished. Jamey mentioned more than once that those guys never got to play together and he didn’t want it to end. We were treated to covers from Hank Williams to Merle Haggard to Travis Tritt and several in between. They even end jammed the blues classic, “Born Under A Bad Sign”, made famous by my favorite blues guitarist, Albert King. Needless to say, I was likely the happiest dude on the planet at that moment.
I could list much more, but I think I have given enough information to likely make you jealous, so I’m going to stop before you get depressed for missing this one.
This was a night that could only take place in Nashville and no other venue would have been more fitting than 3rd & Lindsley. I do want to remind you once again though, that this night was for a great purpose for a dear friend to many. So if you have some extra cash, please consider donating to Mike Owens GoFundMe page here.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for donating and most of all, I want to thank the artists for shining a light in a world full of darkness.