Nashville’s Country Rocker Jake McVey
Named by Billboard as one of the “Top Ten Touring Acts,” country music artist and singer-songwriter entertainer Jake McVey electrifies stages with instrument-driven country music, powerful emotional ballads, tremendous vocal range and engaging original songs. He is called a phenomenal talent with homegrown, Midwestern roots and high-powered swagger, and producers predicted success as his natural destiny.
Jake’s music spans traditional, classic, new country, country rock, current top 40 and original songs.
Hailing from Burlington, Iowa, Jake twice moved to Nashville. The first time was about six years ago. But he was touring so much, he says he barely got to be in the Music City. He resettled there in 2017 so he could “actually dig into Nashville” and focus a chunk of time toward writing and recording songs. That move afforded him time to handle side projects as well.
“Nashville is oozing of music. It’s important to be here. But I think touring and being on the road also was beneficial for getting my chops up and giving me a base to work with, even a chance to cover other artists,” Jake says. “As soon as you get to this giant town, the bar of expectations is instantly raised. You can feel it in the air. And I’ve worked really hard to push the envelope.”
How does Jake stay grounded within a hectic, all-consuming music pace?
“Never forget where you came from,” he says. “I’m just a good Iowa boy who likes to work hard. I was brought up with a great work ethic. I was raised that when the sun is shining, it’s time to make hay. That’s just who I am. I love to work.”
In February, Jake was slated to launch a new full album that was likely self-titled at press time. And he’s performing in his home state during the month of Valentine’s Day—maybe staying closer to his new wife, Stacie (whom he married in January).
Jake: The Songwriter and Storyteller
Lyrics from blues and rock songs really catch Jake’s ear.
“I love the stories that songs tell. You can’t help but think about: this person lived that,” he says.
How does he actually write songs? He assures it’s organic, with a melody followed by words, sometimes with catchy phrases inspiring an entire idea.
“In my head, I hear the lines,” he says.
The video and lyrics for Jake’s hit song “Never Give Up” took on a life of its own, especially because he dedicated it to first responders.
“It isn’t just the big, tragic moments that can get you down, it’s the day-to-day that can get pretty heavy. From the small-town farmer to the selfless service men and women, our communities are filled with hard workers who make sacrifices every day to play their important roles in our communities and within their own families.”
In the music video, Jake plays a farmer and single father who’s struggling to support his family by day and who’s a volunteer fireman by night. It can be viewed on Facebook, YouTube and Vevo.
“If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you just have to keep going. Through the good and the bad, you have to find what keeps you moving and just ‘never give up.’”
He says he’s currently trying to do writing sessions constantly, oftentimes with other artists. He says he gets emails frequently from aspiring songwriters, asking him what they should do. Part of the dilemma is deciding when to conform to trending music styles, he says, and how to stay relevant while maintaining what you’d like to personally pursue.
Jake believes it’s essential to write about deeper topics in simple lyrics but meaningful ways. He says he writes every day, with no restraints, at his laptop with coffee beside him.
Jake: The Guitar Maker
Unknown to many, Jake is a graduate of the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery, which is the longest-running guitar-making school in North America. Based in Arizona, the institution was founded in 1975. Jake learned how to repair and create guitars, which he still enjoys doing. When seeing him perform, chances are you’re viewing a favorite guitar he’s personally made.
He and his father also collect vintage guitars, including a “pre-war Martin” made by C. F. Martin & Company, a guitar company launched in 1833 in New York City.
Jake: The Musician
He’s shared the stage with some of country’s most acclaimed acts, including Blake Shelton, Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley.
He says being in country music now is neat because the words have changed, becoming more slangish and current.
“That leaves the gates wide open, allowing for our songs and performances to borrow things from other music such as hip-hop.”
For example, he says he loves the uniqueness of English-born pop musician Ed Sheeran’s work and even wrote a song himself entitled “Who Dis New Phone?”
Jake’s future core style? He describes it as “blues-ish and rock-ish, with cool guitar licks somewhere in there, but not completely poppy.”
He particularly listens to soulful musicians, such as Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Thomas Rhett, Shawn Mendes, Florida Georgia Line, Martina McBride, Kenny Chesney and Paul McCartney. He adds that he’s always asking people he comes across who they listen to.
Jake: The Performer
Jake is relentless road dog who performs 250-plus dates a year, and his loyal fans are addicted to his fiery stage show and arsenal of ear-grabbing songs.
Jake grew up with musical parents. His father played drums, and his mother played the piano. They were inspired by songs at church and soon had friends coming to their house for musical jam sessions.
“Nobody played bass, so I started playing it when I was 9 years old and found it easy and motivating to fall into,” he says.
Jake says he also fell in love with entertaining and performing and then writing. The first song he ever wrote had a specific objective: to win over a girl in high school. He says along the way of writing songs, he realized he was no longer afraid to play them out.
“Now I’m enjoying the hell out of this,” he says.
He says life on the road creates a different state of mind, “like you’re in your own world or own time zone.” With the lack of sleep, he says it can feel a little crazy, but the overall experiences yield developments that strike and influence performers.
Jake prides himself with reading a crowd.
“It’s all about entertaining the fans and showing each and every person in the room a good time.”