Music is Karen Jonas‘ bread and butter. Or, in this case, pure, unadulterated butter.
That’s exactly what the Fredericksburg, Virginia-based singer-songwriter dishes out as the main ingredient in the music video she premieres today (May 30) at PopMatters. There is nothing better than the real thing — the title song to her album Butter that will be released independently on Friday (June 1).
Karen Jonas releases her third full-length album on June 1. / Photo: Amber Renée Photography
“I wanted to incorporate some different roles that I play in this video,” said Jonas, who does double duty as a full-time mother of four and a busy musician who plays more than 150 shows a year and is releasing her third album, following her 2014 debut Oklahoma Lottery and 2016’s Country Songs.
“I am myself a mama in the kitchen and singer on stage, and then also at a retro fun cocktail party. [Director] Ryan Poe really helped to cement these concepts with the shots he chose.”
Check out “Butter” now, then learn more about the music video, the jazzy, horny (as in trumpet, trombone and sax) song, the album and Jonas, whose quotes were provided by her publicist. Then, as they say in the South, bring your appetite. Here’s just a taste of the lyrics that will leave you drooling for more:
- Stop on by for dinner / try it don’t you wanna
- you’re gonna love her / Mama cooks with butter
Poe, a Fredericksburg videographer, shot previous videos for Jonas songs such as “Wasting Time” and “Country Songs”, which feature live performance settings. But the retro-cool aspects of “Butter” put Jonas in various locations. A kitchen scene was filmed in the home of guitarist Tim Bray (her musical partner for almost five years) because “his kitchen is more photogenic than mine,” Jonas said.
Other live shots took place in “an elegant venue” called Fredericksburg Square — “They have a fantastic cabaret stage that I knew would be perfect for the vibe,” Jonas said — and Smithsonian, Doug Stewart’s historic downtown home that’s no relation to the museums in Washington, D.C., but turned out to be the perfect place to throw a cocktail party.
Playing “Mama” meant, of course, Jonas’ children were able to make cameo appearances in the kitchen scene. Who knows if they’ll return for the sequel, though.
“There were a couple of minor mishaps,” Jonas admitted. “There was the part where Hazel (7) got flour in June’s (9) eye and almost got fired from her video role. PJ (2) took a big spill the day before the shoot and had a black eye and a bump on his forehead so enormous and unfortunate that he could only be filmed from behind.”
Jonas, rooted in folk and country music, takes on plenty of genres from ragtime to blues to soul on the 10-track album, which she wrote and recorded in Fredericksburg. The sessions were held in the evening after her kids went to bed, and Jonas made the 5-minute drive to Wally Cleaver’s Recording studio, where she co-produced with Bray and Jeff Covert.
Singer-songwriter Karen Jonas said, “I wanted ‘Butter’ to be classy and sexy.” / Photo: Amber Renée Photography
The title song gave Jonas a chance to show she isn’t defined by just one role — this entertainer, guitarist, singer, songwriter and mother can handle the heat — in or out of the kitchen.
“I wanted ‘Butter’ to be classy and sexy,” Jonas said. “It’s retro-domestic; it’s about a mama who’s not just showing up, she’s owning it. I work at night playing music, so I have the chance to spend my days taking care of my four kids. I am proud of my role as a mother and a musician. I wanted that to shine through in ‘Butter.’ ”
While watching Jonas pour it on, Mama might even say, “Life is butter than ever.”
Michael Bialas is a journalist and photographer who enjoys writing about entertainment and sports for a number of online publications, including PopMatters and No Depression. Follow him on Twitter: @mjbialas