Founder and front man of The Night Drivers, 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 voice in bluegrass. 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 at the end of the 1980s 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 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. And while The Night Drivers have made extensive use of his original songs, they’ve 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.
Since then, Chris has continued to draw attention for all aspects of his multi-faceted career:
In 2012, he and The Night Drivers had the #1 song for the entire year in bluegrass radio airplay, a song he co-wrote with bassist Jon Weisberger, “Final Farewell.”
With the release of Lonely Comes Easy, Chris and the band put an even stronger emphasis on their original material, unique arrangements, as well as their characteristic humor, while maintaining the traditional bluegrass sound at its core. The album has received a string of rave reviews, and in September, 2013 the album yielded 5 different songs in the top 20 of Bluegrass Today’s weekly chart, including the #1 and #2 songs. Actor/director/comedian/banjo player Steve Martin said of their new release: “A haunting, silky-smooth CD by some of the best players in bluegrass. Chris Jones’ voice is there with the great masters, and The Night Drivers should no longer be driving at night, but playing music 24/7.”
The longest-tenured Night Driver (by about 5 shows), Jon Weisberger holds down a dizzying array of positions in the world of bluegrass. In addition to his work with Chris, he has made appearances on bass with artists ranging from the legendary Jimmy Martin, Hazel Dickens and Roland White to Tony Trischka, Larry Cordle, Harley Allen, David Peterson and April Verch. As a songwriter, he has supplied material to many of today’s top artists, including Del McCoury, Doyle Lawson, Blue Highway, The Infamous Stringdusters, Mountain Heart, The Gibson Brothers, Terry Baucom, The Chapmans, Blue Moon Rising, and Dwight McCall, as well as Nedski-Mojo and The Night Drivers.
Based on this success, Jon was named IBMA Songwriter of the Year in 2012
Like Chris and Ned, Jon’s involved in bluegrass radio, producing and appearing on a weekly syndicated show, The Blue Side Of Town With Del McCoury. He also writes occasional articles for publication, continuing an extensive bluegrass journalism career that earned him the IBMA’s Print Media Person of the Year award in 2001 and the Charlie Lamb Award For Excellence In Country Music Journalism in 2005. In addition to his creative endeavors, Jon is an alumnus of Leadership Music, and, after two terms as a member of the IBMA’s Board of Directors, has recently been elected Chairman of the Board.
Co-writer with Chris of The Night Drivers’ popular “Final Farewell,” Jon also co-wrote several of the songs on Lonely Comes Easy.
He released his own solo project, If This Road Could Talk, in 2008.
A 25-year professional who’s noted for his dazzling technique, originality and broad sense of humor, Ned Luberecki has served for over a decade in The Night Drivers. His resume includes stints with Paul Adkins & The Borderline Band; Gary Ferguson; Radio Flyer and the Rarely Herd, frequent winners of SPBGMA’s Entertaining Band Of The Year award. He’s also drawn growing attention as a popular banjo instructor at some of the most renowned instructional camps in the US, Canada and Europe. Like Chris, Ned is also a broadcaster on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction, where he hosts the regular newgrass show, Derailed, and the popular Sunday Banjo Lesson.
Since joining The Night Drivers, Ned has continued to make a name for himself as a guest on a variety of recordings and appearances, including tours with Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time and as the “other” banjo player with Tony Trischka’s Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular. In 2007, he released a popular solo project, Nedski, which included duets with friends like The Infamous Stringdusters’ Chris Pandolfi and Punch Brothers’ Noam Pikelny, along with comic favorites like “Cabin Of Death.” In 2010, he teamed up with the Sam Bush Band’s Stephen Mougin as Nedski & Mojo, releasing an acclaimed project (Nothing More) and making occasional appearances on shows like the syndicated Music City Roots.
Mark Stoffel joined The Night Drivers over six years ago, but his ties with Chris date back to the 1990s when they met in Mark’s native Germany.
Now a resident of southern Illinois, where he teaches media at Southern Illinois University, Mark was a founding member of Shady Mix, a popular roots music group that toured around the world and recorded several well-received projects over its career.
A recording engineer as familiar with his studio as he is with his mandolin, Mark has recorded and produced a long string of albums by local, regional and even international groups. He has released a popular solo album, One-O-Five, as well as an album of holiday music, A Midwinter’s Eve, with guitarist Nathan Clark George.