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"I listen to the crowd yelling," he tells CMT. "There's a cool feeling of hearing the intro music fade out, the lights dim and go down. And when the crowd knows the show's about to start, they start screaming. I like that feeling because it's taken me a while to get there. I remember when I first got a record deal and got out on the road, people didn't know who I was. No one screams for someone they don't know, so it's nice to hear people getting ready for it now."
The Florida native, who undoubtedly took plenty of lessons when he opened for Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw on their Brothers of the Sun tour over the summer, admits he doesn't sing before a show.
"I've never done vocal warm-ups in my life," Jake notes. "Every now and then, I might do a 'mi-mi-mi-mi-mi' ... I never really learned to sing. No one ever taught me the right way to do it. Sometimes you'll catch me -- there'll be friends of mine or whoever on the bus -- and the tour manager will come on and say, 'Dude, you've got a show in five minutes.' So I'll go put my boots on really quick, put a pair of jeans on and a T-shirt and go do what I do. It's not a job. I love to do it. I guess some people get ready to work. I just look at it like it's one more good time to be had."
The "The One That Got Away" singer has kept many of his same band members since before his 2006 debut album, Startin' With Me. "It's a great reward because people feel invested," he acknowledges. "The guys have gone through years when they've had to take a pay cut in order for us to get through the year. Or we rode on one bus together for five years. Now I'm on my own bus with my wife and a couple of other people who ride with me. I don't see [my band members] as much as I used to until we hit the stage. So it's nice for them to see the growth and know that our goals that we set out to achieve are starting to come full-swing."
Jake's going to have to make even more room on his bus when he and his new wife, Lacey Buchanan, have a daughter in November. However, he also makes room for another family member when he is on the road -- his dog, Merle. "He keeps everybody sane," Jake explains to Country Weekly. "People pet on him and love on him and he just enjoys it. If you're having a bad day, he can cheer you up."
Jake current tour will make stops in Maryland, Kentucky and Georgia. See a list of dates here.