Through covering country music you get to meet an array of interesting individuals but when I first met Caroline Jones during Country 2 Country back in March last year (which you can get to learn more about Caroline from reading HERE) I felt a real connection to how positive and optimistic an outlook that she had on the world and more importantly her perspective on making music in this millennium. In the current climate we have a situation globally where COVID has changed the scope of the industry and society in general but during lockdown/quarantine (I’m not entirely sure how you term it on the other side of the pond) whilst she was in Florida, I had the opportunity to have a good old catch up with Caroline to help bring us right up to date.
Given the 15 months between getting together, a lot had happened. Back in March last year Caroline had just released the video for “The Difference” which saw a a car journey and stopping off in various cities whilst she was being chased/followed across the country which was a really fun and lighthearted story. This creativity and storytelling continued with the next chapter and following sing “Chasin’ Me” where this video acted as a sequel:
I love making music videos, it as an opportunity to tell a story visually that you’re telling orally and musically when you write and produce a recording in a song. I’ve really grown to see music videos as one of my favourite creative outlets and also a really important marketing tool in this day and age, it’s an additional opportunity for fans to connect with a song. I love every part of it. I love being involved in the treatment, the idea, the vision of it then I love shooting and editing, just all of it! For me it’s very similar to producing. Now I’m kind of co-directing and co-producing a bunch of my videos I really enjoy that. I have some really amazing people that I get to work with like Paul Boyd and now Tyler Lord. It’s a really fulfilling creative collaboration, just like when you co-produce or play with musicians in a band.
She is an artist that has won many admirers, she is a creative songwriter that pulls in a lot of influences, that is also an insanely talented multi-instrumentalist with one of the most majestic voices that you will encounter anywhere. She is also a sublime professional on stage with immense warmth and positivity everywhere that she steps which may explain exactly why a certain Mr Kenny Chesney tops an elite list of performers holding her in such high regard! There is however one artist in-particular that she instantaneously formed a bond with and Jimmy Buffett is a pretty cool guy to be in your corner:
The first time we met was in Tallahassee, back in 2017. I was asked to open the hurricane relief concert that he was putting on to benefit folks who had been affected by the hurricanes in Florida and Texas and the islands significantly that year as there were several hurricanes in 2017. I was asked to open that show, I got to come on stage and sing “Come Monday” with him then I got to close the show when we sang “Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On”. It was Kenny, Jake Owen, Toby Keith and Jimmy so I was just so honoured to be a part of the show. Jimmy and I hit it off immediately, we did a couple more shows together then he asked me out on tour in 2018.
He is one of the most decorated artists in all of music who released his debut album “Down to Earth” a mere 50 years ago back in 1970, he is a CMA and ACM Award winner who just last week had the number 1 record on Billboards Top Country Albums that also reached number 2 on the all genre Billboard 200 with his latest album “Life on the Flip Side” yet despite this illustrated career there is one thing that he has never done that is highly surprising. Playing the Grand Ole Opry is synonymous with country music and something that Jones did for the first time, however June 27th 2020 will be the date for the most long overdue chance stand in the circle as Buffett steps on stage for “The Show That Made Country Music Famous” for the first time, so does Caroline have any advice for her friend about the experience?
I would never presume to offer Jimmy Buffett tips about anything! Haha! I will say that the Opry is “The” country music institution, I was elated to make my debut and now I want to play it every chance I get. I played it twice then COVID hit and the world changed, but I can’t wait to go back.
Through playing shows and forming a bond with McAnally and Buffett it did not just become that. This pair of iconic figures trusted her as an artist along with her warm and joyous personality to tell their story with her next release “Gulf Cost Girl” which tells the story of where they grew up:
I was on tour with Jimmy and Mac is obviously one of the most important members of the Coral Reefer Band, Jimmy’s right hand man production wise and writing wise. I was on tour with them for a year and they wrote that song with me in mind, for me to sing. It is an indescribable honour to just have them write the song and then Mac produce the song with some incredible studio musicians in Nashville. Then to have Kenny who I was touring with at the time, feature on it and my other good friend Lukas Nelson along with Jimmy and Mac it was just a pinch me moment. A thing I’ll look back on, I know decades from now I’ll look back and think what the heck? How did that happen? It was just a blessing to have the seal of approval from all those artists and have the opportunity to collaborate on a song like that which means so much to Jimmy and Mac. It’s about the Gulf Coast, all the towns that mean so much to them and have so many anecdotes from their life wrapped up in that song so it’s really special.
Jones was born in New York City and the North East is where she grew up, so telling the tale of the Gulf Coast is not a natural tale but she was fully aware of what the song meant lyrically and the significance of what she was entrusted to deliver:
It is quite an honour to bestow upon someone else. I didn’t grow up in the town necessarily that are called out in the song but Jimmy came over to my house and went through the song line by line, he explained to me the significance and told me stories about every line and every town in the song. It is just the way he thinks about rhyme schemes, chord schemes and harmonic schemes it really is quite a talent to be able to write this seemingly simple catchy song. A really catchy song that everyone can sing along to but have this real intellectual depth and emotional significance where “Gulf Coast Girl” is a perfect example of that. It’s a great responsibility to bare the weight of those stories just because they mean so much and we shot the video in Gulf Shores, Alabama. I’ve toured around the Gulf Coast, Pensacola and places like that quite a bit. I haven’t been to every place in the song but there is something magical down there, there is like a charm because there’s that southern swampy topography, these gorgeous white sand beaches and the people are so kind. There’s this whole culture of joy down there, it’s a very quintessential American culture of joy and I loved shooting the video in Gulf Shores! Gulf Shores is gorgeous, it was hot as heck but it was so much fun and everyone we met was just so nice.
The song is written to reflect the whole vibe and beauty of the gulf coast which as Caroline said is so catchy yet has so many specific and intricate almost “Easter Eggs” that has so much attention to detail and are so specific to Jimmy Buffett. Take the stand alone line during fade out: “Got a little Weeki Wachee in me” is a very clever turn on a line of the chorus “I got a little mermaid in me” that just emphasises this
Weeki Wachee is a place in Florida where they have professional mermaids that perform in the springs and are known all over the world. They have a whole industry down there, they’ve been doing it since the forties and Jimmy loves it! It’s super charming and nostalgic for him, he’s been there a bunch of times and swam with them which is what that pays homage to.
The “Pelicanaires” as Buffett, Chesney, Nelson and McAnally are collectively dubbed as featured performers on “Gulf Coast Girl” are not the only familiar names that Jones has collaborated with. In addition to extensively being on the road with Kenny Chesney and Jimmy Buffett, she has also played a considerable number of dates with Zac Brown Band who she was opening for last year. When we previously spoke back in March last year, we had also talked about OneRepublic who Caroline had previously played festivals with, then we are both huge fans of Ryan Tedder and the guys. But then again who isn’t? During our first chat, she said that she had been writing with both Zac and Ryan for the latest Zac Brown Band offering, where the most evident outcome from this resulted in the three of them being amongst the co-writers for “Need This” which she is the second track from the bands innovative, progressive and creative sixth studio album “The Owl” that was released last year (My review of the album is HERE) and was fantastic evidence of what can be achieved by infusing a variety of ideas and elements that may typically be seen as outside the genre box.
Brown reciprocated this as her co-writer on current track “All of the Boys” (Listen HERE) which was not only released as a single but 4 alternative versions aptly titled “All of the Mixes” that really showcases the variety of the dynamic that she creates in terms of her perspective, her personality, creativity ad vocal prowess whilst still highlighting her vocals with every version:
It’s no secret that I love different genres of music and different styles. I’m fascinated by and passionate about the process of production, modern production and I love country instrumentation which is so important to me as a musician, then being on stage as a performer with the live band thing, there’s nothing like it! Then there’s so many elements of modern musical technology and production technology in pop music that excites me. I kinda have this background in acoustic or singer/songwriter music, that’s how I started playing bars, making my own records and my show on Sirius XM being acoustic focused. So, I’m just glad I live in this time where there seems to be a lot more creative room and freedom. People listen to all different genres of music. There will always be traditionalists, if you love traditional country music that’s great as there are plenty of people making that, loving that and performing that but there are all these other people who are branching out, mixing genres and mixing styles so there’s really just more creativity, it’s always evolving which is a wonderful thing. I just think whatever is authentic to an artist is good and it will find it’s audience! We could all spend less time thinking and judging and categorising and analysing then using it to find the music that we love!
Our journey through time since March last year had completed and “All of the Boys” as the current single is progressing, so you delve into the almost cliche yet essential question of what is next?
I have a bunch of new music being mixed right now, I have a couple of songs ready to go and I wanna put them out as soon as possible, I’m shooting some more videos, so the short answer is we are working on it! I can’t wait to get new music out and I think it’s a great time to get new music out. I think there’s so much freedom now, I think that putting one song out at a time is the way to go as far as digital. It’s such a wonderful way to give a song a spotlight on socials and on streaming. You get it in little bitesize chunks, which I personally as a consumer really like. It about connecting more with the artist because the artist can really speak about that song one at a time so that’s what I’m leaning towards. Though there’s still merit to having a body of work, especially if you are going out to promote and tour or things like that but that doesn’t look like it until early 2021. So it remains to be seen but I’m definitely putting new music out that’s for sure!
This is so refreshing and exciting to hear going forward, then you bring yourself with a taxi driver situation of questions you know everyone else asks, so you feel you shouldn’t to end a conversation! COVID has changed the industry, the UK government are going very slowly with easing restrictions so even if people wanted to hop over the pond it is not immediately straightforward! We want to see people on stage and we know people are desperate to come back and play for us but nobody has a crystal ball as to when that may happen! So as for when is she coming back over it’s a case of “I really don’t know when, but I know I’ll be back there as soon as I can because I love being over there and love the audiences!” She genuinely wants to come back and what she does with her lyrical and melodic creativity is such a good fit for country music over here but obviously the pandemic complicates things so in the meantime we look forward to the new music she has on the way, so make sure you check her out and keep up to date with Caroline on her: website Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube