Checking In: The Saving Graces of Sarah Jarosz

Texan roots muse sings of Cedar trees, Bay towns, wilderness

World on the Ground, fifth LP and first since 2016 by Sarah Jarosz, opens “a long, long time ago, in a little Texas town,” where Eve ventures out for a look around and finds music. “Keep following the sound, girl.” Impeccably picked, her natural springs voice stilling the ear, the album and Wimberley-reared, three-time Grammy-winning crier does just that.

Sarah Jarosz at the Old Settler’s Music Festival, April 22, 2017 (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Austin Chronicle: Where are you sheltering and under what circumstances? Who else is there and how’s that going?

Sarah Jarosz: I’m in Nashville. I live in NYC, but when things started escalating at the beginning of March, I decided to leave the city and come down here where my boyfriend lives. I’ve mostly felt thankful that I had somewhere outside of NY to go. The ability to be outside in the backyard has helped keep us (mostly) sane.

AC: At what point did COVID-19 shut down operations for you, and what went down with the ship, so to speak, both personally & professionally?

“I’m figuring out how to adjust to moving live performances online. I’ve honestly found it to be a very unnatural, challenging thing to stare into a computer screen and play to the abyss.”

SJ: March 13. I was supposed to fly to Montana for a private gig that weekend, but the gig was canceled the night before. Since I was already checked in for my flight and heading to the airport the following morning, I decided to throw a few extra things in my suitcase and leave for Nashville.

I released a new album, World On the Ground, on June 5. I had a big tour planned to coincide with it, but like all musicians I’ve had to cancel all of my summer touring, and gigs are continuing to be canceled into the fall.

AC: As a global culture, people employ music for every purpose imaginable, obviously spanning religion to entertainment and everything in between. What happens to communities like ours when people can no longer access it in person?

SJ: I think people are hurting right now. As musicians we have this sense that no matter how dark things get, we can always come together to play music for people, so the fact that we can’t do that in person right now is really tough. While it certainly doesn’t come close to the live experience, technology has helped soften the blow with livestream performances, although it will be interesting to see how long that is sustainable.

AC: Everyone’s had to shift or drastically alter their work situation. What does that look like for you?

SJ: As I mentioned, I’ve had to cancel my tours for the better part of the year, and I’m figuring out how to adjust to moving live performances online. I’ve honestly found it to be a very unnatural, challenging thing to stare into a computer screen and play to the abyss, but even in the last few weeks I’ve been learning how to improve the audio and visual quality, which makes it much more appealing than just playing into a phone or computer speaker.

AC: What’s your soundtrack for the apocalypse and what role does music play for you as a fan and scholar of it in times of hardship?

SJ: Continuing to listen to albums that I love has been such a saving grace for me, as I know it is for so many. I’ve been listening to a lot of Bruce Cockburn, James McMurtry, Sam Cooke, Bill Withers, and Gillian Welch. Her album Time (The Revelator), which has always been one of my desert island discs, has felt particularly appropriate in these times.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Sarah Jarosz
Sarah Jarosz & Gary Clark Jr. Nominated for Grammys
Sarah Jarosz & Gary Clark Jr. Nominated for Grammys
Local youths step further out into the national spotlight

Raoul Hernandez, Dec. 9, 2013

Follow Her Anywhere
Follow Her Anywhere
More than a homecoming for Sarah Jarosz

Jim Caligiuri, May 24, 2011

More by Raoul Hernandez
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
Our favorite albums, videos, and performances

July 3, 2020

Nemegata Album Review
Nemegata Album Review
Hycha Wy

July 3, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Sarah Jarosz, Bruce Cockburn, James McMurtry, Sam Cooke, Bill Withers, Gillian Welch, Checking In 2020

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle