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A Dirty Dozen with KAREN JONAS – October 2019

| 13 October 2019 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Fredericksburg, VA-based award-winning Americana artist Karen Jonas released a new album, Lucky, Revisited, on July 19, 2019.  Wide Open Country partnered with Jonas to premiere the first single, “Ophelia,” on June 14, 2019, and to announce the new album.  Lucky, Revisited is Jonas’s fourth studio album and features new, stripped-down, acoustic recordings of nine songs released on her first three albums, as well as two stellar covers.” We get Karen to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

Photo Credit: Amber Renée Photography

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

We made our newest album, Lucky, Revisited, to update some of our favorite songs on our first three albums, and to present a set that sounds like our live show now. We’ve been playing 150 shows a year for six years now, so the songs have grown and we’ve grown as musicians, too. We didn’t rewrite or rearrange them for the record; we just played them as they are now. Some of my favorite moments on the record come in our cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.” I think that one deserves a few listens.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I remember being a little kid and hearing a band play “Big Yellow Taxi” at my parents’ friend’s party. A lady got up and sang with the band. I was spellbound, and more than a little jealous. Kids are crazy, you know. I thought, “Why didn’t they ask ME to sing a song?!” Fast forward to when I was 16, my dad plays me Joni’s Miles of Aisles on the record player. That was my “aha” moment. I stole my dad’s guitar and started writing songs right away.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

I’ve loved the great songwriters – Mitchell, Dylan, Cohen, Simon – since I first encountered their music in high school. Years later, after my divorce, I ran in a crowd with some excellent musicians with great musical tastes. I was listening to mix-CDs of alt-country, country, bluegrass, and old-timey music, things I hadn’t really focused on before. It was a really transformative time in my life, and that musical influence seeped into my brain pretty deep and sent me down the road toward country and Americana music.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Tough call. I’ll go with Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Hank Williams, and Dwight Yoakam. But there are so many more.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Bob Dylan, of course. Because I love him.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Oh man, a reviewer compared me to Shania Twain recently. That’s a stretch.  We were just talking about genre descriptors – it’s really difficult to categorize your own music. I suppose we sound a little like country music played by people who listen to rock ’n’ roll in the car, written by someone who adores Joni Mitchell.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Guitarist Tim Bray and I spend a lot of time on the road together, and we’ve got everything down to a tee. We can load in, set up a PA, park the car, and have drinks on the table in about 10 minutes. When we bring the band along, our drummer and bassist are both named Seth, so that keeps things pretty simple. And, there are no sing-alongs. Though that is a nice idea.

8. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

I’m not prone to star-struck-ness, but maybe one day.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

I am forever grateful to make a living by making art. Additional perks include self-expression, playing some gorgeous venues, and drinking on the job. If I couldn’t play music, I’d stay home with my kids until I figured out what I wanted to do. Maybe I’d work at a local coffee shop for a bit.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I really enjoy talking to interviewers with whom I can have an engaging conversation about songs and music and life. I have less to say when reviewers regurgitate my promo material at  me.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I stand by the decisions that I’ve made. As an artist and human, I try to be as genuine as I can, so there are no regrets. (I wouldn’t mind making a little more money though. This mama’s got bills to pay!)

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I would head back to hang out with Joni Mitchell for the making of The Hissing of Summer Lawns. I would love to understand her process and hear the tracks build. Joni Mitchell always blows me away with her originality and creativity, and that album is one of my favorites.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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