Highly-acclaimed country music singer/ songwriter James Otto performed in front of an enthusiastic sold-out crowd Saturday night at the Dead Rabbit Saloon.
Otto said he was glad that owner Billy James Clayton reached out to him to perform in Waynesville. Otto said Clayton's persistence helped convince him to play at the Dead Rabbit Saloon.
“Billy contacted me on Facebook,” Otto said. “He was persistent. That's the way it works. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. He kept saying 'I want to bring you to my place,' and we just worked it out.”
Otto, who is a Navy veteran, said he was especially happy to perform in a military community.
“[The military] is one of those things that I've always had a soft spot for,” Otto said. “My dad was a Drill Sergeant, my grandfather was a Korean War Veteran. It's definitely something that runs deep in my family.
“I've been around the military my whole life. Any chance I can go and play for those folks is something that I love to do and it makes me feel good about using my gift to give something back. It was awesome to do that [Saturday].”
Otto, who has toured with big country music acts such as Shania Twain, has performed in all sorts of venues, but said he was more than happy to perform in the small town venue atmosphere.
“I've sang anywhere from Madison Square Garden to the Dead Rabbit Saloon in Waynesville, Mo.,” Otto said. “The thing is that if people are there to enjoy music and enjoy what I do, I'll play anywhere. I really will. It's a gift to be able to do what you love for a living. It doesn't matter where I play, as long as people are appreciating what I'm doing, then it's worth doing.”
Otto said that he had a great time with the crowd of 120, including Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman on Saturday.
“It was awesome. The crowd was great, rowdy, and here to have a good time,” Otto said. “That's what you want. You want a rowdy crowd that is here to have a good time. I'm really glad Billy invited us.”
Currently, Otto spends most of his time songwriting. He has wrote songs for Zac Brown Band, Jamey Johnson, and several other famous country artists. He said he's played over sixty shows this year.
“Writing everyday is my main gig, now that I'm a dad. I try to stay home as much as I can,” Otto said. ”In 2008, when 'Just Got Started Lovin' You' took off, I was probably in my own bed less than 30 days the whole year. I just can't do that anymore, I want to be there for my daughter. That's more important to me than being on the road now.”