Jonesing: Funny girl Kacey Jones wants to see you laugh so hard your face hurts.
Ridin' That Train
Kacey Jones brings country comedy back to Felton
By Curtis Cartier
IT'S BEEN 25 years and Kacey Jones is still laughing. Laughing at life, laughing at love and, most importantly, laughing alongside the friends and fans who've made the Santa Cruz County native into the comedic country queen of Nashville. Just ahead of a Santa Cruz homecoming performance at Don Quixote's on June 17, Jones tells Santa Cruz Weekly just what the hell is so funny.
"What makes me laugh? The fact that I'm still touring and working at this stage of my life sure makes me laugh," says Jones with a chuckle only lightly flavored with Tennessee hickory drawl. "The truth is, I think people need a chance to laugh now more than they have in a long time."
Jones was born in Los Gatos and raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Growing up, she lived in houses all around Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties, eventually graduating from Los Gatos High School on an undisclosed date. After high school, she and her guitar found work in coffee shops and with other musicians until the late '80s, when she fronted Ethel & the Shameless Hussies and first made her mark in the world of musical comedy. From there, her career swerved from songwriter/bandleader to record producer/concert promoter to media darling and back again. One thing she's never been, however, is a standup comic.
"I don't do standup," she says. "I play a kind of bastardized country that has a lot of rhythm and blues in it, mixed with comedy. My intention was not to be the chick who writes funny songs. But I think once you go down that path of doing humorous things and novelty things, it's so hard to steer back away from that."
Jones' tour comes on the heels of her latest release, Donald Trump's Hair. Featuring cover art that showcases a four-step schematic for constructing the Trumpster's epic comb-over, the album is a celebrity pie toss that targets famous faces far and wide. And though the jokes at times seem a little dated, they're still adorable and stand up to repeat listens. The title track is a frolic through the follicles of the real estate baron himself: "I wanna see proof what's under that poof. Is it Jimmy Hoffa or just more of his loot?" Other gems include the bluntly stated "I Want To Be Up Front Like Dolly" and the astute "I Can Always Get Skinny But You'll Never Be Tall." Jones says the latter tune is yet another installment in her long-running lyrical diatribe about her ex-husband.
"Believe it or not, I used to be married to a skinny redneck named Bubba," she says. "One day he came up to me and he said, 'You're starting to get that secretary spread.' I turned around and I said, 'You know something, Bubba, I can always get skinny but you'll never get tall.' I always tell people I was only married to Bubba for two years, but I got 50 songs out of it."
As Jones points out, making "serious music" after a lifetime of comedy is a nearly impossible transition. But that didn't stop her in 1999 from teaming up with 15 legendary country icons to recreate the songs of her good friend, the musician, novelist and Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman on Pearls in the Snow.
"I met Kinky back in the late '80s, when he was on a book tour, and I asked him if I could do something with his old songs," she says. "It took me two years to round everyone up and get that album done, but once we had Willie Nelson on board it was a lot easier to get everyone else."
"Everyone else" when it came to that album meant, among others, Lyle Lovett, Tom Waits, Delbert McClinton and Dwight Yoakum, plus Friedman himself. Putting the album together was one of the most satisfying musical accomplishments of her career, she says, and one she plans to write a book about soon. Since then, however, Jones has been all about the comedy, and when she hits Don Quixote's next week you can expect some sore ribs as a result.
"There's nothing like seeing people laugh so hard their faces hurt," she says. "That's what keeps me goin'."
KACEY JONES plays with Dorian Michael, Chuck McCabe and Joe Weed on Wednesday, June 17, at Don Quixote's, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. Tickets are $8 and available at the door or by calling 831.603.2294.
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