Caroline Jones has been out on the road with the Zac Brown Band as a special guest artist on their most recent the Comeback Tour, and she's sharing the highlights and a slice of life off stage in a new video tour diary exclusively with Taste of Country readers.

Jones was already familiar with the band's legendary live shows, having opened for them on previous tours. Brown has also served as a mentor to her, and they've written together for her albums, but it was a bit out of the blue when she got the offer to play in the band on its current tour, its first since canceling its entire year of shows in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I've opened for the Zac Brown Band for the past three years, and I really owe the touring career and the career that I've had thus far to Zac giving me that initial opportunity," Jones tells us. "And this year, in June, I got a call from Zac saying that they needed an extra utility person to cover some acoustic [guitar] parts and some B3 parts and sing harmonies with them, and he invited me to come out with them as a special guest. I was totally shocked and honored, and still pinch myself every night."

Jones has actively documented her touring and recording endeavors and shared them with her fans from the outset of her career, and she doesn't just share the glamor of the stage, either. Her new tour diary shows her and her fellow musicians enjoying the roar of the crowds and the thrill of performing live, but she also shares glimpses into life on a tour bus and the real-life nuts and bolts that touring mostly consists of.

She says she doesn't see it as a dichotomy, since it's all part of life on the road.

"That's just what it is. I don't think of it as grunt work," she says with a laugh. "We're very lucky to be on a bus, and the Zac Brown tour ... we're spoiled, put it that way. Compared to most musicians, we're very spoiled."

"I really love the lifestyle," she continues. "You have to, or else why would you do it? It doesn't occur to me to not wear sweat pants and have messy hair on the bus. That just is my actual personality until I go onstage."

In fact, some of Jones' favorite moments of the tour have taken place behind the scenes.

"Every night before the show, the band gets together for an hour and does vocal warmups and jams," she shares. "It's kind of a lost art. They're kind of in the tradition of a time gone by that's still very jam-oriented. It's just a real, authentic musical experience that I feel like in an era of production and tracks and lighting and video — all of which I love, by the way — but you just kind of miss that eight guys in a room together, jamming and playing music."

"It still exists, but for it to exist at the highest level like that, it reminds you of the Allmann Brothers, it reminds you of Lynyrd Skynyrd, it reminds you of the Grateful Dead ... it reminds you of so many bands that I know Zac looks up to," she adds. "In decades to come, to say that I was able to have that experience as a young musician will be so formative for me."

Jones will also headline a string of solo dates in Florida later in the year, and she has been using her breaks from the ZBB tour to put the finishing touches on a new album that will contain her current single, "Come In (But Don't Make Yourself Comfortable)" and more new music. She says an announcement on that front will be coming soon.

"We're about to announce it here in the next couple of weeks," she says. "I've been working so hard on it. Obviously, the Zac Brown Band tour shifted my plans a little bit, but I've still been working my butt off between shows to get it done, and I'm so proud of it."

For more information about Caroline Jones, visit her website, or keep up with her via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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