CAUTIONARY TALES

What a sound Dean Johanesen, producer / engineer Steve Connelly and the musicians got on “Cautionary Tales.” The songs I already knew are done magnificently. “Strike Up the Band,” “Circus Queen,” “Walker’s Pure Extract,” “Mr. Delaware,” and “Red Eyed, Red Light, Goodnight!”—highlights of most Dean Johanesen performances—are captured in a beautiful multi-year labor of love. And the songs I didn’t know are fast becoming favorites. The additional treats between some of the tracks remind me of how much I love James Taylor’s first “Apple” album and the Rascals “Once Upon a Dream” and “The Who Sell Out.” The finest records of any decade can carry you into the following decades, and this one by Dean is timeless! It’s now a world where there is more music than anyone can possibly consume. Do not miss Dean Johanesen’s “Cautionary Tales.””

— Steve Huntington, Sirius/XM Radio

Highly reminiscent of Father John Misty’s newest record, it’s really been this year that we’ve fallen in love with this particular sound. Through the song’s five minute runtime, Dean nearly immediately immerses the listener into another atmosphere and decade through his unique instrumental choices that focus heavily on horns to really set the mood. Lyrically speaking, he’s also shown extreme great strength in his songwriting, effortlessly painting a picture for the listener to connect the dots through his words. Not only are you imagining what’s happening, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that the entire vibe makes you feel like you’ve transported 100 years into the past. In terms of crafting the experience, he’s gone above and beyond in nailing every facet of what make this song true to the form of its influences.” - Editor's Picks Review - We Write About Music - The Wizard Of Menlo Park

We Write About Music

On his new album Cautionary Tales, Dean Johanesen delves into Sarasota’s history, pulling inspiration from John Ringling’s circus legacy and the 1920s and ’30s. Set to be released in February, the album showcases the lives of real artists and performers who lived here, and the lyrics that tell their stories are carried by upbeat folk sounds that are married to jazzy swing.” - By Yasi Bahmanabadi December 12, 2022

Sarasota Magazine

Cautionary Tales

Dean Johanesen - Circus Swing & American Roots Music

CAUTIONARY TALES - A record Inspired by The Greatest Show on Earth by Cecil B. DeMille, Cautionary Tales by by Hilaire Belloc, Peter and The Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev, Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen as well as the history of the Circus, Prohibition and the War of Currents.

Thetitle of this record was inspired bytheold children book “Cautionary

CAUTIONARY TALES - A record Inspired by The Greatest Show on Earth by Cecil B. DeMille, Cautionary Tales by by Hilaire Belloc, Peter and The Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev, Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen as well as the history of the Circus, Prohibition and the War of Currents.

The title of this record was inspired by the old children book “Cautionary Tales for Children” written by Hilaire Belloc. Each story in Hilaire’s writing has some tragedy within to teach a lesson to the reader. These songs follow suit with tales of electrocution, Jake leg paralysis, cursed songs etc. 

The writing of the songs on this record go as far back as ’05 or ’06. My compositions, musically, started to take an interesting turn back into my jazz roots. In 2013 I was turned on to Django Reinhardt by a friend who mentioned I was hinting at his style. I had never listened to Django, so I was curios as to what he meant. I realize my music is not a pure form of Hot Club Jazz, but my obsession to learn more and study this style came at a perfect time, I think, for the songs I was writing lyrically about a time frame that matched the music. A soundtrack in a way, for these stories.

Lyrically, I took cues from Saras Gruen and Erik Larson in their writing of Historical Fiction. Sara Gruen in Particular for the reference to the Circus and Sideshow aspect of her book "Water For Elephants.” Living in Sarasota and being so close to Ringling and all of the Circus History here, it was hard not to be enamored with something I could see in my landscape every day. 

Aside from all of that, I knew a personal connection would be important for me to write these songs and not just have it sound like I was singing a history book. There is a lot of truth in here for me even though the characters and lives of these folks may be be odd. My experience with my son going into middle school lead to writing Mr. Delaware, Circus Queen started out as a story about my Aunt that had me learning about Lillian Lietzel, the real Circus Queen. 

It may sound off the path, but my siblings and I all have different fathers and my Mom took in foster kids when we were growing up. Family for us has often times been a mix of different characters with different backgrounds. I relate this to the Circus and the Sideshow. Maybe even more the Sideshow. Folks that were sort of shunned by society or given up by their parents found a family within each other and their mix of “oddities.” The people around them saw through all of that and accepted and loved each other past the bruises scars of their lives on the surface.

This release is a long time in the making. This was my first studio record where I found myself as a solo artist after many years of being in a band. I had to find all of the players and slowly piece the songs and production ideas together from sounds I wanted to hear. I had a number of tracks lost due to a computer crash where I found myself starting over and having to find new musicians to re track the things I had lost. 

My thanks to everyone that has waited so long and has asked me many, many times about when this would be released. My appreciation can not be overstated, thank you very much for your support. Thanks to every musician that worked with me and supplied their talents to help me realize all of the sounds I was searching for to add to the songs.  Special thanks to Steve Connelly for his encouragement and patience with me through the last number of years we have worked on this record. I can not tell you how much it means to have a project take this long and still have a producer / engineer stay positive and encouraging through the whole process.  

I hope you all enjoy this record and I hope you find it was worth the wait. 

Much love and thanks to you all!

Sincerely - Dean

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PODCASTS

Red Eyed, Red Light, Goodnight!

Dean Johanesen

Red Eyed, Red Light Goodnight

The closing song from the record was inspired by a Water For Elephants reference to the Character Camel being thrown out of the Circus Train in the middle of the night.

I think a more common practice was for a person to get fired and left at the station watching the red lights disappear as the train and the circus

Red Eyed, Red Light Goodnight

The closing song from the record was inspired by a Water For Elephants reference to the Character Camel being thrown out of the Circus Train in the middle of the night.

I think a more common practice was for a person to get fired and left at the station watching the red lights disappear as the train and the circus moved on without them. Being told to show up after the train had already left the station may have been another term for this and I have also heard of being thrown from the train as “Oil Spotting.”

Basically if you were of no use to the circus and were not “pulling your weight” they would ask you to leave. If you did not leave and continued to drain their space, food etc they would throw you from the train in the middle of the night.

One last thing for this song, I sort of called back to other stories from the record in this closing song. I mention the “Wizard” (Thomas Edison) and Topsy as well as Walker’s from Walker’s Pure Extract.

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The Wizard of Menlo Park

Dean Johanesen

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The Wizard of Menlo Park

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The Wizard Of Menlo Park is the first single form my upcoming release "Cautionary Tales" due out on February 3, 2023. This track is also available on all streaming services.

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