Chris Jones & the Night Drivers
from Victoria BC Tracks (5)
Chris Jones is one of the best musicians in bluegrass today. His powerful, original approach to traditional bluegrass, his uncompromising professionalism and his wonderful sense of humor all combine to build a strong bond with audiences worldwide.
Chris' rich voice is rooted firmly in the Stanley bluegrass tradition, but with a warm, resonant country flavor, something Bluegrass Now magazine has called the "low lonesome sound". Chris' strong rhythm and masterful lead guitar work is influenced by George Shuffler, Larry Sparks, Tony Rice and Ron Block. Chris is also considered one of bluegrass' premier songwriters.
His band, the Night Drivers, are known for their clean, driving sound and for featuring some of the most accomplished pickers in the world of bluegrass. Past members have included Steve Huber, Keith Little, Jesse Brock, Markie Sanders, Casey Driessen, Kristin Scott Benson and others. Chris released his 4th CD for Rebel Records in 2003.
Night Drivers' Profiles
Ned Luberecki (Banjo), born in Baltimore, Maryland, combines crisp, hard-driving timing with a fluid melodic sense to stand out among Banjo players. Ned has appeared on recent recordings by Jim Hurst and Bill Harman.
Jon Weisberger (Bass), Is a noted Country and Bluegrass journalist as well as a bass player. He recorded and/or performed with a host of area groups, as well as bluegrass legends Jimmy Martin and Hazel Dickens.
"Chris is one of those treasures in bluegrass; a writer, singer and musician who respects the past, while gently bringing his own style and vision to the music." -- Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine
Though he’s too reserved to boast about it, this last year must surely be counted as a good one for Chris Jones. Named Broadcaster Of The Year at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual awards for his work as a DJ on Sirius Satellite Radio’s bluegrass channel, Jones also took home a co-writer’s Song Of The Year trophy for “Fork In The Road,” the title track of an Album Of The Year winner by the Infamous Stringdusters. The double-barrelled achievement marked the first time in the organization’s history that a single person has won honors for both musical and non-musical accomplishments.
Yet to those who already know him, the dual awards came as no surprise. For though he’s best known as a bluegrass artist, Chris Jones has always had a field of vision too wide to be contained within a single dimension. Perhaps that's been shaped by his voice -- low and mournful rather than sharp and soaring--or perhaps by the way he's felt compelled to write so many of the songs he sings, filling them with a heartfelt intimacy and contemporary depth that's still rare in the genre. Even when he's been most firmly planted within the bluegrass mainstream, these qualities have made him stand out from his peers - and have garnered him critical notices for his personal musical style and sound. And when he’s brought those same qualities into the world of broadcasting, the results have been no less striking.
Chris Jones is no newcomer to the musical spotlight. His resume includes appearances and recordings with some of the world’s most respected musicians including The Chieftains (he was featured on their 2003 U.S. tour), Earl Scruggs, Vassar Clements, Lynn Morris Band, April Verch Band, the McCarters and the award-winning quartet Weary Hearts, among others. He has performed as a sideman at the Grand Ole Opry and has been seen on such television shows as Conan O’Brien, Emeril Live, and The Grand Ole Opry Live. Jones’ collaboration with legendary country singer/songwriter Tom T. Hall led to the release of the duet “Man On The Side Of The Road” from Chris’ “Just a Drifter” album, which became one of the Top 5 airplay bluegrass songs of 2001. Most recently, he appeared in the PBS series "The Appalachians" as a both a performer and commentator.
On “Too Far Down The Road,” his latest CD for Little Dog Records, Jones took a leap forward, combining classic country influences with honky-tonk, bluegrass, blues, and folk. It marked the first collaboration between Jones and Grammy Award-winning producer/guitarist Pete Anderson (Dwight Yoakam, Roy Orbison, k.d. lang, Michelle Shocked, Sara Evans, Gillian Welch ). Says Anderson, “When I heard Chris’ music, I was absolutely blown away by the soulfulness of his voice and the depth of his original songs. I quickly saw the potential of creating an album that would bring together a number of different musical styles to showcase his impressive talent.” Just as Ricky Skaggs did in the 80s, Jones takes the spirit and soul of a traditional art form and breaks all the rules with a sound that’s beautiful and “in-your-face” at the same time.
Jones and Anderson called on an impressive group of musicians to add to the flavor of the album. In addition to Anderson’s own prowess as a multi-instrumentalist, “Too Far Down The Road” includes musical contributions from country rock legend Chris Hillman, Dobro genius Mike Auldridge, bluegrass/country stalwarts Rhonda and Darrin Vincent, and banjo great Ron Block as well as Chris’ wife Sally. After you’ve digested Jones’ honey voice and insightful songwriting, you realize that this is also a multi-layered instrumental tour-de-force.
While he often sounds like he comes from generations of southern pickers, Jones was actually born in Brooklyn and grew up dividing his time between his mother’s home in Suffern, New York, and his father’s in New Mexico. It was in the Land of Enchantment that he first became acquainted with bluegrass and began to learn guitar. After graduating high school, he attended the University of Vermont where he began playing music with a variety of groups, soon after making the decision to become a full time musician. He played with the band Special Consensus for several years before immersing himself in traditional bluegrass with Dave Evans & Riverbend. He later joined Lynn Morris and her husband Marshall Wilborn in the group Whetstone Run. He later moved to the Southwest as a member of Weary Hearts, an award-winning quartet that served as the training ground for a number of prominent musicians including Ron Block of Union Station and Mike Bub who formerly played bass for the Del McCoury Band. Weary Hearts released the album “By Heart” on Flying Fish Records to great acclaim.
Jones eventually moved to Nashville with Weary Hearts. When the band dissolved, he did stints with a number of other groups before making his solo recording debut with the album “Blinded By The Rose.” The recording featured strong performances by Jones and an outstanding group of musicians and included his original song “Dark Wind of Missouri,” which spent more than a year on the Bluegrass Unlimited chart and introduced him to national audiences.
Following the success of his first album, Jones signed with Rebel Records, where he released three albums, “No One But You,” “Follow Your Heart,” and “Just a Drifter.” Each has won critical reviews, enhancing his reputation as a soulful singer/guitarist and an insightful songwriter.
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