Jake Owen
Jeff Lipski

"I'm at a great place. I feel like I'm ready to step it up, and take it to the next level," says the country star, poised to perform at the Tortuga Music Festival in April

Jake Owen is getting a chance to go home to his native state of Florida in April to perform at the Tortuga Music Festival, and let's just says he's very excited.

"[It's] pretty cool being a Florida guy myself," he tells Billboard of his involvement in the inaugural event, taking place April 13-14 on Fort Lauderdale Beach. "It's right on the beach, and it's for ocean conservation, and to preserve the beaches. It's an important thing for me considering that was my backyard growing up."

Owen says it's an opportunity to give back to an area he loves, and have some fun in the process. "Anytime you can do something like that, it's a great thing. I'm just a sunshine kind of guy, and water kind of dude, so it's a perfect opportunity -- not only to see my family back in Florida, but also to work on and spend the day at the beach isn't so bad either."

The singer is currently on the road as part of the Jason Aldean tour, and he's taking notes. "He's selling tickets like crazy, and to be able to attach my name to it, and have him kind of put his arm around me per se, and introduce me to his fans, it's a great opportunity," he says as he tells Billboard he's planning to make the leap to the arena level in 2014.

Owen did test the waters as a headliner, fronting a CMT-sponsored tour in late 2012.

"Anytime you put your name on a ticket with nothing else attached to it, that's the true testament to where you are in your career -- how many tickets are sold," he says. "We played twenty dates on the CMT Tour last year and sold out all of them. To me, that was not only just an amazing feeling, but also, I won't lie -- I was a bit surprised. I'll never forget the way I felt when I went out for the first show. I thought 'Is this building going to be full of people?' To see it packed to the rafters, and everyone singing along with the singles and album cuts just validated everything I've been working so hard for the last eight years of my life. I'm at a great place. I feel like I'm ready to step it up, and take it to the next level. That takes a lot of hard work and dedication. I've just got to keep on keepin' on."

He's marching at a pretty good pace right now. The first three singles from his "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" album have all topped the charts, and the fourth single, "Anywhere With You," currently sits at No. 26 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart. Soon, the singer will start working on his next studio album. Will his marriage to Lacey Buchanan and the birth of their daughter Olive Pearl impact his songwriting?

"I'm sure it will, at some point, but it hasn't happened yet," he stresses. "I've got a vibe going on with a lot of what I've been doing, and to completely change it based off of me having a child might be a little confusing. I'm sure as my life goes forward, and she starts growing up, there will be a lot more things to include in my music. But, at this point, I'm just sticking to what I do. There's always going to be life experiences that find their way into my songs. A lot of people have asked that lately, but I'm not going to have a record full of songs about kids – as much as I love my little girl. There's a time and a place for that, but right now, I've got my eyes set on some other things musically, and I'm really happy where it's going."

Find more information on the Tortuga Music Festival here.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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