Tortuga Music Festival - April 12, 13 & 14, 2019 - Fort Lauderdale Beach, FL
By: Lori Smerilson Carson
One of the treasures that south Florida has is its annual Tortuga concert. This year fans can see their favorite country artists on April 12,13,14th on the Ft. Lauderdale Beach. One new anticipated artist is Caroline Jones (scheduled to play on Sunday), who just released her latest single “Chasing Me” on March 22nd. Her Co-produced Bare Feet album was released in March of 2018 and was received well by country music fans, even climbing to the #16 spot on the Nielsen SoundScan Country Album chart. She isn’t new to the stage, in fact, she’s played with other well-known musicians as she revealed her experiences and plans.
SFL Music: So, you just came back from England correct?
Jones: “Yes ma’am”.
SFL Music: How did that tour go?
Jones: “It was fabulous. It couldn’t have gone better. It was our first time performing overseas. It was such an honor to be part of the C2C Country to Country Festival with some of my favorite country artists. Yeah, the audiences over there were super receptive and respectful and interested in hearing the stories of the songs. It was great!”
SFL Music: Did you just play in England. Tell me about your tour.
Jones: “We played in Ireland, Scotland and England.”
SFL Music: Oh nice!
Jones: “It was a whirlwind, yes.”
SFL Music: Was that your first time over there?
Jones: “Yeah, yeah.”
SFL Music: So that was a great experience?
Jones: “Very much so, yeah.”
SFL Music: That’s good. Tell me about your tour in the states. I know you’re playing at Tortuga.
Jones: “Yeah, I’m playing Tortuga in April and then we’re about to go on tour with Kenny Chesney. The ‘Songs for the Saints Tour.’ I’m going to start here in a couple of weeks so we’re preparing for that. I’ve been seeing Kenny for years” She explained how he is a favorite country artist of hers. “I’ve been a fan of Kenny’s for years now. I met him at a Jimmy Buffet benefit last year and he’s been a great supporter of mine, so it’s a real honor to go out and tour with him.”
SFL Music: Has he sort of become a mentor or just like a good friend?
Jones: “I mean, Jimmy Buffet and Zac Brown have become mentors to me because I’ve been touring with them for years now. I don’t know Kenny as well, but something tells me that after this tour, Kenny will be a great friend and a mentor to me as well.”
SFL Music: That’s nice. Now you’re from New York Originally?
Jones: “I’m originally from Connecticut, yes. Right outside of New York.
SFL Music: Where in Connecticut?
Jones: “Stamford, Greenwich area.”
SFL Music: Oh, very close to New York (and it’s art). Now who are your influences? How did you get into Country Music?
Jones: “Well I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock and R&B.” She credited her influences mostly to the Nineties with artists such as, “Mariah (Carey), Whitney (Houston), Barbara Streisand” she said. “My dad listens to the Temptations, Earth Wind and Fire. Then when I was 17, I went to Nashville for the first time,” she continued, “and that’s when I discovered country music. I never listened to it really, hadn’t grown up on it and I was introduced to the world of country music that’s all about authenticity, story-telling and musicianship. I was just completely enamored with the genre and tradition and I delved all the back to Hank Williams and the Carter family and went forward from there and just became a huge fan and student of country music. That was the missing piece for me stylistically.”
SFL Music: Were you schooled professionally with your music?
Jones: “Yeah, I started singing when I was nine. I was actually trained in Opera and Jazz, which is kind of another aspect of my artistry, vocally at least. So, I did grow up singing classically.”
SFL Music: Where do you get the ideas for your songs?
Jones: “I just love writing and I love music and I felt inspired by those two things since I was a little girl. I loved to write poems as a young girl. When I realized that I could put those poems to melodies and music, I really never wanted to do anything else. It’s just a calling, an inspiration. My songs come from the curiosity and joy that I feel like creativity is defined by. I get inspiration from everywhere, from nature, from life experiences and especially from modern music and electronic elements in modern production. Other artists and songwriters as well really inspire me.”
SFL Music: What about their music inspires you?
Jones: “That’s kind of the indefinable thing, what draws us to a certain song or a certain artist or a certain type of music. It just kind of resonates with us on a feeling level, on a soul level, that we can’t really define, but there are a lot of things that inspire me about artists and music. One is great songwriters like Patty Griffin and one is great producers and productions like I said modern electric productions, softening. Elements like that are fascinating to me and then great performers like Beyonce’. I mean there are so many aspects of my job that I love to consider myself a student of. The main one being songwriting, musicianship, singing, production and performing. So, there’s all these artists that inspire me in each of those different areas.”
SFL Music: What can people look forward to seeing at your show? Your Tortuga show?
Jones: “Well, I have a great band and we really enjoy playing together. So, I would be a high energy, really joyful set. Super heart felt, up tempo, fun music.”
SFL Music: You play guitar, correct? Did you teach yourself guitar or take lessons?
Jones: “Yeah, I took lessons in the beginning and then after a few months I kind of just went on my own and have been developing my own style of guitar playing. I have a lot of guitarists that I look up to like John Mayer, Michael Hedges, Mark Knopfler and Lindsey Buckingham. So, I feel like I kind of created my own little school of guitar players that I love. It’s one of my primary crafts that I’m always working on and always creating with.”
SFL Music: Is that how you write your songs primarily, on guitar or do you use piano?
Jones: “I also write on piano, yeah. It just depends.”
SFL Music: I don’t know if you’ve been to Florida before, but is there anything in particular you are looking forward to doing when you come to south Florida?
Jones: “I live in south Florida.”
SFL Music: Oh, ok (this is a definite Florida treasure)!
Jones: “Yeah. I live in West Palm Beach. That is where my team and my studio are located. I absolutely love it.” She elaborated, “It’s my favorite place and being able to come home from tour to a place like this is just such a blessing. Such a gift. I lived in New York for eight years. I went to high school and college there and then I moved down here and it’s just my favorite place. It’s paradise. It’s so inspiring, so warm and good for my voice, the humidity. I love it!”
SFL Music: How is the humidity good for your voice?
Jones: “Humidity is really good for your voice and when you come here and you’re a singer and you’re not used to humidity you feel like you’re on steroids. You feel like you took a bunch of drugs or something. It makes your voice so supple and rich and loose and it’s just the best feeling. So now that I live here, I’m super spoiled and when I go somewhere else, I’m like ‘what is happening?” she laughed
SFL Music: So how do you adjust when you’re in that situation?
Jones: “I drink lots of water and warm up. I mean, I’ve been doing it since I was a little girl so.”
SFL Music: So, you’re schooled in that. I know they also say drink hot water with lemon.
Jones: “Mmhum, Yep, that helps for sure.”
SFL Music: What would you recommend to someone just starting out who wants to become a musician or a singer?
Jones: “The most important thing is to develop a craft and style and to know yourself creatively and to follow that muse is the number one thing. There’s so much distraction in this world and it’s so easy to try and cater yourself, try to craft yourself around who other people think you should be. That doesn’t go just for artistry, but life in general. Especially being an artist, because in order to be an artist you have to be fearless and courageous in your dreams and it takes a lot of focus and a lot of courage to be fearless in your dreams. It’s like what other people think and to believe in it before other people can see it, you know because people tend not to believe in things that they can’t see and that’s what creativity is if you think about it. So, just having that courage and that focus to look inward instead of outward.”
SFL Music: That’s great advice. Was there anything ese you want SFL readers to know? Any other future plans that you have?
Jones: “Yeah, absolutely. I’ll be on tour all summer with Kenny Chesney and the Zac Brown band, and my new single “Chasing Me” is out!”
Goldmine SFL readers! The Summer (and Spring) are looking bright here in south Florida with Caroline Jones live and recorded music.