Chris Jones and The Night Drivers
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.”
2016 promises to be even bigger for Chris Jones & The Night Drivers.
- 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.