One of those dates on the Zac Brown Band’s national tour included playing Coors Field, where Jones performed for some 40,000 people.
“It was huge for me,” says Jones, calling from a tour stop in Memphis, Tennessee. “Coors Field was my first really big slot on the tour and the very first stadium I ever played. I went from playing to relatively small crowds to tens of thousands of people. I remember when I hit the stage; it felt like someone stuck my entire body in a light socket — a lot of adrenaline, a lot of excitement and a lot of pressure.”
Since that show, Jones has played the venue a few times more. “I’ve had the privilege to be back on that stage when I toured with Jimmy Buffett and the Eagles three years ago, and then again with Zac. Not bad company to be in.”
Jones has opened for the Grammy Award-winning Zac Brown Band on three separate tours and joined the outfit on stage at numerous festivals. “It’s a dream come true," she says. "I dreamt about playing, especially on this level, with the Zac Brown Band for years before I actually got the opportunity to do it. I love their creative fearlessness and willingness to evolve at the same time that they super-serve fans live."
The 31-year-old talented musician, who plays the electric, acoustic and lap steel guitars, piano, mandolin, banjo, dobro and harmonica, also collaborated with her friend Brown to co-write the sassy and fun “All of the Boys,” a single on her 2020 EP that bears the same name.
“It really says a lot about someone when they really go out of their way to support you," Jones says. "It’s one thing to have someone out on a tour and support them, but it’s another when someone goes out of their way to write with you, give you advice, support you and take you under their wing.”
Jones is back in the Mile High City this weekend with Brown and company, playing as a member of the group on its Comeback Tour, which includes a two-day stop at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre on September 17 and 18. The twenty-plus-date trek, which kicked off on August 5 in New Jersey and expands across the states until October 17, is followed by a headlining four-date run from Jones in her current home state of Florida.
It’s not just Brown who saw something in Jones’s flavorful brand of country gleaned with traces of folk, rootsy-rock and pop. Jimmy Buffett also saw it. So did Kenny Chesney.
Buffet and Jones met after the music icon’s management company, which happened to be good friends with Brown, came to see one of her live sets. The two eventually performed a duet at a Florida hurricane relief benefit concert in November 2017, which also had Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith on the bill.
Things clicked, and like Brown, Buffett took Jones on the road with him. He also co-wrote a song for her with his right-hand man, longtime guitarist, producer and songwriting partner Mac McAnally. The beachy-breezy “Gulf Coast Girl" — a lyrical snapshot of all the fond, memorable places the two co-writers have spent time in — is served in true Buffet style as it recruits Chesney on guest vocals.
“Jimmy and I went through the song, and he told me stories and anecdotes from his life that pertained to the lyrics, so every city heralded in ‘Gulf Coast Girl’ has a direct connection or story attached, whether professionally or personally,” says the New York City-born Jones. “It was a real honor for me to sing it.”
Buffet signed Jones to his Mailboat Records label and released her 2018 Bare Feet album, which she co-produced; she plays all of the instruments on the record except for the bass and drums.
“I really think of Jimmy and I more as a creative partnership in terms of creative decision-making," Jones says. "At the same time, Jimmy is also a very passionate person. So he has been very vocal in giving me advice and helping me along, applying his business acumen to my career. To have someone like him sharing his perspective is, and has been, a huge gift.
"What’s also great is he really knows people — he has a pulse on them — not just because he’s had such an unconventional career," she continues. "He can just tap directly into the veins of what people relate to, what people want, and what they resonate with. It’s really inspiring.”
Chesney also saw something special in Jones and took her on tour. She's shared the stage with country stars Vince Gill, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Trisha Yearwood, Kip Moore, Lee Brice and more.
When she’s not on tour, Jones is hosting Sirius XM’s Art & Soul, a radio show where she interviews and performs unplugged songs with other hit singer-songwriters. She's also busy promoting her two new singles off a forthcoming album that is due out sometime at the end of October. The lead single, "Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable),”which she co-penned and co-produced with her manager and Grammy and Academy Award-winning producer Ric Wake (Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston), is a traditional, country-leaning, lighthearted tune, while her latest song, "Getting to Me," takes on a more earthy, soulful Sheryl Crow vibe, fastened with personal lyrics about Jones’s fiancé, a well-known America’s Cup sailor named Nick Dana.
“This is the first song I wrote about him," says Jones, who released the track late last month. "We fell in love very fast. It was unlike anything. All the clichés about finding ‘the one’ are true in my case. I didn’t necessarily even believe in them or was expecting that. It was a deep time for me emotionally, and that song poured out purely in a matter of a few days and captured what I was feeling — just the unexpectedness and the depth of the experience.”
She underscores these sentiments in the lyrics, singing passionately, “This love has shifted everything / I’ll never not know you this well again / You’re getting to me.”
“I think that song represents me at my deepest core," Jones says. "And that’s why I love music so much —because it lets me be my most real and natural self.”
Caroline Jones with the Zac Brown Band plays Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre this Friday and Saturday, September 17 and 18. Special guests include singer-songwriters Ashland Craft and Adam Doleac. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; the show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $45.50 and are available on the Fiddler’s Green website.