Chris Jones is a quadruple threat as a singer, a songwriter, a guitarist—and, thanks to his role hosting SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction, as one of the most widely heard broadcasting voices in bluegrass music. His immediately recognizable voice, warm sense of humor and abundance of talent have combined to make him one of the music’s most distinctive personalities, and one of its strongest artists.
Following apprenticeships with bluegrass legend Dave Evans and Chicago’s durable Special Consensus, Chris moved to Nashville in 1989 as a member of the band Weary Hearts, where his colleagues included Ron Block (Alison Krauss & Union Station), Mike Bub (Del McCoury Band, 18 South) and acclaimed mandolin master, the late Butch Baldassari. Forming Chris Jones & The Night Drivers in the mid 1990s, he’s led the band through a set of stellar recordings and tours while appearing and recording with some of the world’s most respected musicians including The Chieftains, Earl Scruggs, Vassar Clements and Tom T. Hall. He has performed on the The Grand Ole Opry with Laurie Lewis, Lynn Morris, and The Whitstein Brothers. And, while the Night Drivers have made extensive use of his original songs, Chris’ songs have also been recorded by a range of other artists, including the Gibson Brothers, Lou Reid & Carolina and The Chapmans.
Chris’ range of talents took center stage at the IBMA’s Awards Show in 2007, where he earned both a Song Of The Year award as a co-writer of “Fork In The Road,” the title track of the year’s Album Of The Year by the Infamous Stringdusters, and the organization’s Broadcaster Of The Year trophy. The occasion marked the first time that both music and industry awards have gone to a single person. Chris had previously won an IBMA award for Recorded Event of the Year for his role in the album Larry Sparks 40.
Since then, Chris has continued to draw attention for all aspects of his multi-faceted career, including a 2014 IBMA award for Print/Media Person of the Year for his widely read humor column for the bluegrass web site Bluegrass Today, and a second award for Broadcaster of the Year in 2015.
He and the band are currently signed to one of bluegrass music’s top record labels, Mountain Home Music Company, where last year’s debut album for the label, Run Away Tonight, yielded the bluegrass hit single “Laurie” which spent 20 weeks on Bluegrass Today’s weekly airplay chart, six of those weeks at #1. Their follow-up single, “One Night in Paducah” also topped the chart in February 2016. Both songs were co-written by Chris and the Night Drivers’ long-time bass player, Jon Weisberger. Actor/Comedian/Banjo player Steve Martin referred to the Night Drivers as “. . . some of the best players in bluegrass! Chris Jones’ voice is there with the great masters.” Americana artist Jim Lauderdale said of Chris, “He continues to have one of the most distinctive and best voices in music, period.”
Whether it’s in the studio or on stage, Chris Jones & The Night Drivers are making some of the most distinctively elegant yet driving music to be heard anywhere today, and they’re delivering it with a unique blend of dry wit, emotional authenticity and broad humor that’s won the loyalty of a growing number of fans across the country, from Merlefest in North Carolina to California’s Huck Finn Jubilee, and around the world. Steve Martin referred to the Night Drivers as “. . . some of the best players in bluegrass! Chris Jones’ voice is there with the great masters.” Americana artist Jim Lauderdale said of Chris, “He continues to have one of the most distinctive and best voices in music, period.”
- Between them, Chris and the Night Drivers are winners of eight IBMA awards, including Song of the Year and Broadcaster of the Year
- They had the #1 song in airplay for the year 2012 in Bluegrass Today’s annual survey
- Featured Artists on the cover of the May 2015 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited
- Their last studio album, “Lonely Comes Easy” yielded nine top 20 songs, including three #1’s
- Recent performance credits include Merlefest, DelFest, and the 2015 season of the PBS television series “Song of the Mountains”
- Chris’ performance credits include Conan O’Brien with Earl Scruggs and the Chieftains, New York’s Avery Fisher Hall with the Chieftains, The Grand Ole Opry with Laurie Lewis and Lynn Morris, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Founded by guitarist Jones in 1995, the Night Drivers feature four distinct personalities who bring a multitude of talents to each performance: Chris Jones who hosts Siriux XM’s Bluegrass Junction, bassist Jon Weisberger, who co-hosts Del McCoury’s SiriusXM show, Mark Stoffel on Mandolin, and the group’s newest member Gina Clowes on banjo. Chris is a two-time IBMA Broadcaster of the Year. The band is also becoming known as a songwriter’s bluegrass band, with Weisberger and Jones now co-writing many of the band’s current songs, and all four members contributing material. Chris and Jon are both IBMA award-winning songwriters, Jon being the 2012 Songwriter of the Year, and Chris taking home the trophy for the 2007 Song of the Year for “Fork in the Road.” In total, Chris and the band members have won 8 IBMA awards. The band is led by Chris’ soulful lead-singing and solid rhythm and lead guitar. Chris boasts extensive performance credits as a sideman with artists like Lynn Morris, Vassar Clements, Special Consensus, Dave Evans, Earl Scruggs, and the acclaimed Irish band The Chieftains. Mark Stoffel, who is originally from Munich, Germany, has a mandolin style that perfectly fits the band sound with his beautiful tone, taste, and rhythmic sense. Jon Weisberger, whose playing has made him a sought-after fill-in bass player in Nashville with The Del McCoury Band, the Roland White Band, Larry Cordle, and others, anchors the band’s strong rhythmic foundation. Newest member, Gina Clowes, a very talented banjo player, and another contributor of original material, hails from Winchester, VA. As a young banjo player, Gina was a frequent finalist in the prestigious Galax banjo contest, and came to The Night Drivers after a long stint with the the popular West Virginia/Virgina band, “Bud’s Collective.”
The strength and durability of this lineup—Weisberger has been Night Drivers for 13 years, with Stoffel on board for the last 9 of those—has led to the kind of musical tightness and ease with each other that has impressed audiences both nationally and internationally. Even with this longevity, their star continues to rise, with the 2015 release of “Run Away Tonight,” their first for the Mountain Home label. The first single release from the project, a Jones/Weisberger co-write called “Laurie,” spent an impressive 18 straight weeks on the Bluegrass Today weekly national airplay chart, 6 of those weeks in the #1 spot. The album has garnered praise from a range of publications, from the Wall Street Journal to Bluegrass Unlimited.