Dean Johanesen, smiling in hat, tie and vest, sepia photo | Dean Johanesen – Album Artwork Development, Song Reference Files, Journals, Record Release Mode, Balancing Creative Time, The Arc Of A Thematic Album, Writing Press Releases, Release Campaign Framework, Heightened Creativity At The Dripping Springs Songwriters Festival

“Dean Johanesen spiced up his repertoire of acoustic guitar-driven fare with a sonic palette that calls on Spanish rumba-style instrumentals, speakeasy-era Americana, and swinging hot club jazz dosed in circus tent hues.” – Leilani Polk, Creative Loafing – Tampa

My guest for this episode, Dean Johanesen, first appeared on the podcast in July of 2018. This is his third feature on the Unstarving Musician. He has a new album called Cautionary Tales, which is out Feb 3, 2023. This date is also the anniversary of the release of King King (1933). Dean says that this release seems to fit his style perfectly with its influence of swing music ala Django Reinhardt, The Squirrel Nut Zippers, Louis Jordan etc.

With a sonic palette that dips into speakeasy-era Americana, and swingin’ Hot Club jazz doused in circus tent hues, the New York-native has made his home in many parts of the United States. Dean’s mother delivered motor homes when he was young and the family traveled around listening to a wide range of artists. Hearing everything from Led Zeppelin to Simon and Garfunkel, classic country to Broadway Musicals. That provided the soundtrack of Dean’s youth and heavily influenced Dean’s interests musically.

In 2013, Dean released his first solo record focused on the storyteller songwriting format. Meanwhile, a recent passion for Hot Club jazz music in the vein of Django Reinhardt put him on a musical path of telling new stories of old times.  Non-fictional characters from the ’20s and ’30s – circus performers, the sideshow, prohibition, the war of currents (Tesla vs. Edison) all inform Dean’s writing. These stories are projected against a backdrop of uptempo jazz in a style Dean has coined “Circus Swing.”

In this conversation we talk about mutual acquaintances, the Dripping Springs Songwriters Festival, Album Artwork Development, Song Reference Files, Journals, Record Release Mode, Balancing Creative Time, The Arc Of Writing A Thematic Album, Writing Press Releases, Framework Of Release Campaign, Heightened Creativity Of Songwriters Festivals and more.

Cautionary Tales Dean Johanesen Cover Art, black & white paper cutout with circus theme

Cautionary Tales – Dean Johanesen Album Artwork

“Dean is simultaneously a throwback to an era of gypsy jazz and circuses while pointing the way to what will always be timely”
– Steve Huntington, Sirius/XM Radio Margaritaville 

You can find all things Dean Johanesen, including stories and songs from his forthcoming album, Cautionary Tales at We had a real nice time catching up and I think it was a really good conversation, that I hope you will enjoy.

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Mentioned in this Episode

Mo Meta Blues: The World According to QuestLove

Nick Nace

Dripping Springs Songwriters Festival

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