ARLINGTON — Although Arlington’s Jesse Taylor already had his horizons broadened by becoming the “Singing Cowboy” of Hawaii for two years, and recording a country-western album of his songs in Nashville last fall, he still felt a bit out of his depth entertaining U.S. Navy sailors from USS John C. Stennis and Carrier Strike Group Three during a port call to the United Arab Emirates in March.
“I’m just a nervous country boy who’s not used to these sorts of things,” said Taylor, who nonetheless felt comfortable performing for a crowd of more than 500, during his album release party at the Skookum Brewery in Arlington, on March 23. “I’m kind of ignorant about the wider world, and of the things that I did know about that part of the world, none of them were good, but Dubai is one of the cleanest, safest places I’ve ever been in. Everything there was so spotless that it almost looked fake.”
At the same time that Taylor was seeing such globally renowned sights as the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, he found himself making a connection with one of the sailors that hit unexpectedly close to home.
“One of the guys from the ship who was at the concert was from Arlington,” Taylor said. “His family even showed up for the show. He’s retiring soon, so we’ve already made plans to go fishing together. Talk about a small world.”
Taylor’s tour of the Stennis and meetings with its other crew members also deepened his preexisting appreciation for the men and women who serve in the American military.
“Everybody knows that what they go through is tough, but when you actually see it for yourself, you gain a whole new level of respect for them,” Taylor said. “They’ll deploy for eight or nine months at a stretch, come back for a month or so, just long enough to move their families, and then deploy again. It’s no joke. They’re protecting us from the bad guys with one of the biggest, baddest ships in the world, and it was so cool to see how it worked.”
Just as Taylor enjoyed the novelty of seeing how aircraft elevators and aircraft catapults work, so too did he recognize that his concert afforded the sailors the novelty of a brief break from their 24/7 responsibilities on deployment.
“They got to escape from their jobs, get a little wild and have a good time,” Taylor said. “Even if it was only for a while, they could pretend they were out in the country.”
Following his March 23 album release party in Arlington, which reunited Taylor with childhood best friends and even grade school teachers, as well as his March 29 performance at the Red Sky Bar & Grill in Marysville, Taylor’s next big gig looks to be the Clovis Rodeo in California on April 22, although he’s expressed a strong interest in making the stage of this year’s Stillaguamish Festival of the River.
Taylor’s debut studio album, “Out Here in the Country,” was officially released on March 26, and is available through Amazon, iTunes and Taylor’s website at www.JesseTaylorMusic.com.