Caroline Jones On ‘The Raglan Sessions,’ Working With The Trenwiths

'New Zealand is so beautiful and inspirational that I wanted to share it," says the country performer

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, folk-country singer-songwriter Caroline Jones found herself in New Zealand alongside her fiancĂ©, America’s Cup sailor Nick Dana, who was there to prepare for a season of sailing. To occupy her time during quarantine, she set upon attempting to discover local bluegrass artists with whom to jam and find inspiration for her sophomore studio album. However, there was an issue. Country, bluegrass, and Americana music are not very popular in the island nation.

“They are some of the most good-humoured, good-natured, authentic people I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around,” Caroline Jones noted about the locally renowned and impressively globally-respected family quartet, The Trenwiths, that she surprisingly happened upon. Two brothers, a nephew, and a father from Hamilton, New Zealand, they play a mix of modern songs, folk songs, and old-time bluegrass music, and count among their greatest career achievements a mid-1970s appearance — at Bill Monroe’s request — on the Grand Ole Opry.

As now available via, Jones and The Trenwiths have released a 30-minute video entitled The Raglan Sessions, a quarantine-recorded performance where Jones and the band play on a clifftop farm in Ragland, a coastal town near the Trenwith’s home in Hamilton. Beautiful music being played in raw settings is a notion familiar to country music of late. In this conversation, the uniqueness of the New Zealand countryside, plus the nature of the collaborative process in an analog, acoustic setting, are discussed.

>Marcus K. Dowling, What initially inspired your decision to record The Raglan Sessions?

Caroline Jones: My reasoning is three-fold. First and foremost, my artistry is rooted in the acoustic tradition. The first music I resonated with as a singer-songwriter was made by acoustic musicians like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Jewel, Emmylou Harris, and Patty Griffin. They were my favorite artists long before I discovered country music. That tradition runs deep in me. At my core, because I [largely] played acoustic shows for the first decade of my career, it’s a part of who I am. Secondly, New Zealand is so beautiful and inspirational that I wanted to share it. Merging the acoustic tradition that shaped me as an artist with how I was evolving as an artist [while in New Zealand], plus the influence of country and bluegrass, was important. Thirdly, The Trenwiths are rare as people these days. When I find people like that, I want to share them — and their art — with the world. People who are genuine, funny, down-to-earth, and not driven by ulterior motives like fame and notoriety are — and this is not an overstatement — pure. They reminded me what, at the end of the day, making music is about.

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