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  • Writer's pictureMary Ann

Foodie Friday Feature: Karen Jonas Releases New Album The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams TODAY

Thank you for talking with us and congratulations on the new album out today! Since every project has a story, what’s the story behind your new record? I started collecting songs for this record and saw themes emerging - a shared setting in the Southwest, and stories about ambition without any resulting action. Stories about dream worlds. A collection of bright, imaginative songs emerged. We have the Last Cowboy, a faded local hero still hanging around his old haunt. Pink Leather Boots, where a trucker driving through West Texas falls madly in love with a stripper and then drives away without so much as a hello. 

What’s the story behind your album’s title? I was missing a line in the song "Maybe You’d Hear Me Then," and I was also missing an album title. I realized I could solve both problems if the missing line became the album title, so a lot of pondering and list making ensued and I ended up with the verse/album title: “you’re working some nine to five/making plans for a better life/The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams you’ll never find.” Bingo.

Is there one song in particular you’re most excited about people hearing? I don’t suppose “all of them” is an appropriate answer here? I really love albums as stories, so I’m excited for you to hear these songs as a collection. 

What is an example of a menu you would prepare if I came over? “Menu” is a strong word, and I’m sort of a sensitive type so I’d prob ask you what you like before you came over. If you dropped in, maybe we’d be having grilled salmon with rice and sautéed veggies. That’s a fam favorite here. We almost always have Ghiradelli box dark chocolate brownies sitting on the counter for dessert, seriously they’re the best, and I’ll fight you about that.

What is your favorite wine? One day I hope to be fancy enough to have a favorite wine, but for now something in the $8-10/bottle range is fine. Don’t laugh. The best kind of wine is when a winery sometimes gives us free wine for playing there, like at our local favs Old House Vineyards, Wilderness Run Vineyards, The Estate at White Hall, or Ingleside Winery.

How do you drink your coffee? Black, sleepy, sitting at the kitchen table. Microwaved for a second go if it’s in the afternoon. My favorite mug was sky blue, it had just the right sized handle, but it shattered on the sidewalk. Luckily my autumn leaves mug is almost back in season.

What is your favorite breakfast? Jackson and I take our four kids to the local diner every weekend morning that we can manage it (I keep kicking myself for not getting a photo of the kids every time we go, we could make a helluva photo series). I get a nice normal breakfast: 2 eggs over hard with bacon, potatoes, homemade toast and coffee.

If I was a bartender, what would you order? Rail whiskey on the rocks, Jack if I’m feeling fancy, Maker’s Mark if it’s special. Sometimes Tim and I will order manhattans before a nice gig.

If you could share a meal with any four individuals, living or dead, who would they be? That feels like a lot of pressure and I’m not sure if I’d enjoy myself, plus the social anxiety after the meal would be outrageous. But heck, let’s get Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Paul Simon at a table together. I’ll just listen.

Finally, if you could be sponsored by one food/drink brand who would it be and why? Our local award winning distillery, A. Smith Bowman, of course. Because, shop local, listen local, and whiskey local. 

Karen Jonas’ fifth album The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams is a flashback-fueled fever dream of Americana songcraft and storytelling. Taking the vast desert expanses of the American Southwest as her backdrop, Jonas embroiders small-town snapshots into vivid explorations of our inner struggle between ambition and inaction.

The Virginia singer-songwriter’s most accomplished and evocative expression to date, The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams captures that aching space between romantic dreamstate and numb reality like few before.

“It’s amazing that our brains are capable of sustaining this whole existence of imagination … of these dreams and goals and ambitions,” mulled Jonas, chatting from her Fredericksburg home. “But sometimes that’s enough. Because sometimes the action isn’t really critical to get you through the day.”

Drawing from memories of love-struck travels around desert California in a converted Greyhound bus, and scribbled notes taken between tour stops in dusty West Texas, The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams overlays relatable characters and circumstances with the fathomless mystery of the human condition. Astonishingly articulate and atmospheric, it turns the desert’s dichotomous sense of endless space and counterintuitive claustrophobia – both actual and imagined – into a profoundly lucid metaphor that lingers long after its final notes.


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