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* When: 7:45-9 p.m.
* Where: Bud Light Stage
* When: 9:30 p.m.
* Where: Coca-Cola Stage
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It's no coincidence that two of country music's hottest acts are opening the 2013 Riverbend Festival in back-to-back shows.
Fan favorite Jake Owen will be the festival's opening headliner on the Coca-Cola Stage after Florida Georgia Line revs up the crowd in its show on the Bud Light Stage.
Dixie Fuller, Riverbend talent production coordinator, says Owen had already been booked when he saw Florida Georgia Line last fall, and he knew the combination would make a powerful draw.
Owen has had a string of hit singles since his debut album in 2006 -- "Yee Haw," "Startin' With Me," "Something About a Woman," "Don't Think I Can't Love You," "Eight Second Ride," and "Tell Me." He scored his first No. 1 with "Barefoot Blue Jean Night," the title track from his third album in 2011.
"My favorite song he sings has to be 'Tell Me,'" says UTC junior Faith Hullender. "I saw him a couple of years ago. I loved how excited he was to be there. He seemed so laid back and sounded amazing."
What makes Owen such a fan favorite -- in addition to being easy on the eyes (People Country magazine just named him one of country's hottest guys) is how he interacts with his fans.
His Twitter followers constantly ask for concert tickets when his show has sold out, and invariably he responds that he'll leave two at the box office. He accepts Twitter invites from fans to stop by their parking-lot pre-show parties and he has asked fans in various places where the best place is to get in some water skiing.
The Floridian is known for his love of water sports, as evidenced by his wakeboarding skill in his video for "Barefoot Blue Jean Night." This week, Twitter lit up with fans discussing whether Owen might get in some time on the Tennessee River or Lake Chickamauga while in Chattanooga.
Fuller and members of Florida Georgia Line each confirmed that Owen will be on a boat at an undisclosed location this afternoon.
Caren Travis of Ringgold, Ga., saw Owen last summer in the Georgia Dome on the Brothers of the Sun tour with Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw. During and between songs, Owen posed for cellphone photos with fans and, on more than one occasion, even laid down onstage so he would be eye-level with a fan for a shot.
"He has a good, upbeat stage presence and he connects well with the audience," says Travis. "He really wants that connection with his fans."
Earlier this week at CMA Music Fest, Owen told The Boot, a country music website, that he hopes to release a new single in July, a teaser for his next CD, scheduled for release in December. Fan sites report he has been playing some of his new music at his live shows. Listen for "Beachin'" and "Days of Gold" tonight.
Contact staff writer Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.