Singer James Otto to kick off Beaufort Water Festival's Concert in the Park

charley@beaufortgazette.comJuly 11, 2012 

  • WHAT: Beaufort Water Festival's Concert in the Park, featuring James Otto and Chuck Courtenay

    WHEN: 8-11:30 p.m. July 14

    WHERE: Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, Beaufort

    DETAILS: http://bftwaterfestival.com

Nashville, Tenn., singer James Otto is looking for people who like to throw down and have a good time to help him open the Beaufort Water Festival's Concert in the Park from 8 to 11:30 p.m. July 14 at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.

Otto is known for his No. 1 country single on the Billboard charts in 2008, "Just Got Started Lovin' You," and as a songwriter for Jamey Johnson's "In Color," which won song of the year at the 2008 Academy of Country Music Awards. His third album, "Shake What God Gave Ya," was released in 2010.

"Writing songs is what keeps me busy when I am not on the road," said Otto in a telephone interview from his in-laws' Hilton Head Island vacation home.

A veteran of the U.S. Navy and an Army brat, Otto, 38, said he is looking forward to performing for Beaufort.

"I have a love for all men and women who choose to serve," said Otto, who played USO shows in Iraq and Afghanistan last year.

"We tried to lift their morale. The military are one of those groups that are at the top of the list for me. I will always play music for those folks."

While Otto describes his music as soulful country, others say he has a Southern rock sound. Beaufort Water Festival Commodore John Gentry describes Otto as a "country singer with a Lowcountry sound."

"If you listen to Otto's 'Sweet Summer Song,' it has a little bit of a shag tone," Gentry said.

Having played in venues from honky tonk bars to Madison Square Garden, Otto said he is looking forward to a receptive audience that likes to party with him.

"I like to get everybody involved," Otto said of his shows.

He promises "Sweet Summer Song" is on the set list for Beaufort, and said he most enjoys playing music that comes from the heart.

"I like songs that come from where I'm coming from, and that talk about my life, and that people can identify with," Otto said.

Otto's success already has been marked with a No. 1 hit and Grammy nominations, but more is to come if history repeats itself.

Gentry recognizes the rise in success for performers at previous Water Festival concerts in the park such as Josh Turner in 2006, Blake Shelton in 2008, Jake Owen in 2010 and Lee Brice and Josh Thompson in 2011.

"I don't think it is a coincidence," Gentry said. "I think there is something here that after they come, good things happen to them."

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