Chris Jones & The Night Drivers
Chris Jones is a veteran in the bluegrass music world. Early on in his career he worked with Kentucky roots music legend and Rebel artist Dave Evans and also did a stint with Craig Cahill’s group Special Consensus based out of Chicago. Eventually, Jones moved south to Nashville and found himself playing in the infamous 1980’s band called the Weary Hearts, a group whose members would go on to great things in the years to come. The musicians in the Weary Hearts included future five-time International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Bass Player of the Year Mike Bub, Grammy winner and future Alison Krauss and Union Station multi-instrumentalist Ron Block and mandolin great Butch Baldassari.
In the next decade, singer, songwriter and guitarist Jones stepped up to form and lead his own band called Chris Jones and the Night Drivers. In the late 1990s, the group began to record for the Rebel Records. Their first album, No One But You, found Jones and crew making music with an array of special guests featuring Lynn Morris, multiple IBMA Dobro Player of the Year winner Rob Ickes, IBMA Banjo and Fiddle Player of the Year honoree Ron Stewart and more.
Jones then stepped up with a solo album in 1998 called Follow Your Heart, which found him backed up by yet another impressive collection of all-star musicians including Ickes, Stewart, Block, Stuart Duncan, Andrea Zonn, Mike Compton, Paul Brewster, Harley Allen, Sally Jones, Aubrey Haynie and the album’s producer Darrin Vincent. Other albums by Jones on the Rebel Records label during that period were Just a Drifter and A Few Words, the latter being a combination of Jones’ best original songs collected from his previous Rebel Records albums as well as some new cuts.
Jones veered off into other directions as the new century unfolded. But, he eventually found his way back to Rebel Records with the 2011 album Lost Souls & Free Spirits. The 14 song collection drew on additional material from Chris’ first three Rebel albums that were not included on the “A Few Words” anthology. It also featured three tracks from a 2009 self-produced album as well as three brand new recordings including the lead single “Final Farewell”.
Jones and the Night Drivers really hit their stride with the 2013’s Lonely Comes Easy. The album features six cuts written or co-written by Jones, an original song each from Luberecki and Stoffel and four cuts co-written by the 2012 IBMA Songwriter of the Year Weisberger. The title song rocketed to the top of the weekly Bluegrass Today airplay chart twice after the album’s release. Produced by Jones, the album’s list of guest musicians include three-time IBMA Vocalist of the Year Claire Lynch, Grammy winners Dan Tyminski and Ron Block, mandolin whiz Sierra Hull, vocalists Sally Jones and Emily Bankester, Jeremy Garrett on fiddle, harmonica great Buddy Greene, bassist Irl Hees and Ivan Rosenberg on Dobro.
Jones’ involvement in the bluegrass business extends beyond his singing, songwriting and guitar playing. He is the host of the Truegrass radio show that is broadcast on Sirius/XM satellite radio on the Bluegrass Junction channel on Friday and Sunday afternoons. Jones’ time behind the microphone resulted in him winning the IBMA Broadcaster of the Year award in 2007 and 2015. Jones also writes a weekly bluegrass blog for the Bluegrass Today website.