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    Tuesday, July 16, 2024

    Caroline Jones lauds Jimmy Buffett, juggles Zac Brown Band, solo work

    Caroline Jones, at age 34, is truly in the juggling plates part of her life.

    She just had her first child in November. She is pursuing a solo country music career, releasing her seventh album last fall. And she is part of Atlanta’s own Zac Brown Band.

    “It’s been pretty hectic so far with a 5-month-old, but we are slowly but surely getting the hang of it,” Jones said in a recent call with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution before a concert stop in town.

    She joined the Zac Brown Band as its only female instrumentalist in 2022. “It’s been a blast,” she said. “We’re playing football stadiums. You can’t really get bigger than that!”

    Jones also considers Chesney, a dominant country superstar for more than two decades, as a mentor and has opened for him as a solo artist.

    Of Chesney’s career advice, “what sticks to me is he’ll go to the worst seat in the house and he’ll sit there and meditate on the distance that his energy and spirit has to reach when performing to capture every person in the crowd,” she said. “That always inspired me. It can seem surreal looking out at the crowd. You forget they’re individual people.”

    For the Zac Brown Band, which did its own baseball stadium tour in 2022, playing second fiddle is unusual.

    “Going on stage in the daylight is new,” Jones said. “It’s also a crowd where not every single person paid to see us. That offers a fresh energy, especially to a band of veterans. This is a challenge of winning over a crowd. Zac thrives in these scenarios. He’s a hunter in more ways than one.”

    And while the band remains relevant on country radio, she said Brown is already thinking about the group’s legacy. “It’s cool to see all these teenagers who know all the words,” she said. “We want to be considered one of the greats.”

    Speaking of greats, Jones is still mourning the death of Jimmy Buffett, whom she considered a dear friend. She was able to join an array of all-stars at the Hollywood Bowl to celebrate Buffett, who created a subgenre of chill, beach-oriented rock music that Chesney and the Zac Brown Band have embraced.

    Zac Brown featured Buffett in their No. 1 country song “Knee Deep” and shared a CMT Crossroads stage with him in 2010.

    “He is the godfather of this kind of music,” Jones said. “I feel so blessed to have been in his orbit. That tribute concert was truly epic. When Paul McCartney sang ‘Let It Be’ and said he sang that on Jimmy’s deathbed, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I was standing behind Eric Church and Zac Brown and they were saying, ‘How are we on stage with a Beatle?’”

    Her latest solo album, “Homesite,” came out just a few weeks before her son was born. “We worked hard on the album all last year and it is one of my babies, too,” she said.

    The record includes a single with the Zac Brown Band, “Million Little Bandaids.”

    “It was very organic. Zac loved that song and wanted to be a part of it,” Jones said. “It was a real seal of validation for me. Zac knows me so well that he could challenge me vocally and added other production elements to the song. He’s like a mad scientist with production.”

    The most honest, raw song on the album is called “Talking to Milo.” It’s a meditation on whether to have a child addressed to her brother-in-law, who passed away.

    “That was very difficult to write, very emotional,” Jones said. “I love my job and career. I want to keep that momentum going. There is that fear that having a family will somehow diminish that.”

    In the end, she and husband Nick Dana decided to have their son, Declan, who was born this past November. “It required a lot of self-reflection and self-healing” to move forward with the pregnancy, she said. “Having a child brings all your own stuff out, all your insecurities and weaknesses. It tests your relationships.”

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