Chris Jones & the Night Drivers make some of the most distinctively elegant yet driving Bluegrass music heard anywhere today. The ten songs he wrote or co-wrote on his latest album, 'The Choosing Road', can stand among the best of his long and distinguished career, and that is quite a feat. Bluegrass is fortunate to have such a dedicated, talented, and tasteful songwriter working in the genre, and still at the top of his game. Deeply rooted in tradition but never bound to it, they deliver original music with tight arrangements, emotional authenticity, and engaging humor.
As actor and banjo player Steve Martin says, “Chris Jones’ voice is there with the great masters,” adding that the Night Drivers are “some of the best players in Bluegrass.” Collectively, Chris Jones & the Night Drivers have won 16 IBMA awards. The band’s latest release, 'The Choosing Road', has proved to be enormously popular. The album’s refined dynamics and heartfelt original songs produced four number one hits, a band record. All five singles released from the album have landed at or near the top of the Bluegrass Today chart, which brings the band’s total count of number one songs to 13. “Bend in the Road” spent 20 weeks on the chart.
Chris Jones & the Night Drivers are currently signed to one of Bluegrass music’s top record labels, Mountain Home Music Company, for whom they’ve recorded three critically acclaimed albums. A well established band formed in the mid-1990s, Chris Jones & the Night Drivers have become popular repeat performers at major festivals like Merlefest in North Carolina, California’s Huck Finn Jubilee, and the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas. They have filled a wide variety of venues around the world, touring across the U.S., Canada, and all over Europe, including Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and Ireland. Together with the band and as a solo artist, Chris has released 14 albums.
Not content to rely on their long track record of success, the band continues to grow and change, with two new members joining in late 2019, celebrated Bluegrass veteran Marshall Wilborn and exciting newcomer Grace Van’t Hof, have added their superb talents.
Chris Jones’ soulful singing, solid guitar skills, and impressive versatility have earned him the respect of some of the best musicians in the world, and he has performed and recorded with the Chieftains, Earl Scruggs, Vassar Clements, and Tom T. Hall. Chris has appeared on the the Grand Ole Opry with Laurie Lewis, Lynn Morris, and the Whitstein Brothers, and began his career with bands as varied as Special Consensus, Dave Evans, and Weary Hearts.
With his warm sense of humor and deep knowledge of Country and Bluegrass music history, Chris is also a popular and award winning host on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction and Willie’s Roadhouse channels, making him one of the most widely heard broadcasting voices in Bluegrass. And in his spare time, he writes a hilarious weekly column for Bluegrass Today.
Mark Stoffel is “One of the most musical mandolin players I’ve ever played with,” says Chris. Mark’s rhythmic sense and warm tone help to define the band’s instrumental sound, and Chris adds, “Mandolin players are really impressed with his playing everywhere we go.” Originally from Munich, Germany, and a Night Driver since 2007, Mark has contributed several lively instrumental tunes to the band’s repertoire. He also delights audiences with his sweet rendition of “Edelweiss”, one of the few Broadway show tunes that really lends itself to mandolin.
Marshall Wilborn is one of the most respected bass players and songwriters in Bluegrass, with a long list of songwriting credits including Alison Krauss’ “Heartstrings,” Doyle Lawson’s “Mountain Girl,” and Rhonda Vincent’s “Wishing Well Blues.” Marshall and Chris have a long history, having performed together in the Lynn Morris Band and as members of Whetstone Run. Marshall is also well-known for his years with the Johnson Mountain Boys, Longview, and Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper. His rock solid rhythm and inventive but tasteful solos have earned him the IBMA’s Bass Player of the Year award four times, and his engaging vocal style and talent for harmony singing add a new dimension to the Night Drivers’ sound.
Grace Van’t Hof is a founding member of the Grammy nominated group Della Mae, as well as a founding member of the popular vintage roots music band Bill & The Belles. Her driving banjo style is influenced by early masters Earl Scruggs and Don Reno, as well as more recent players like Ron Block and Jim Mills. As a self described “songwriting geek,” Grace focuses her playing on what best supports the song. Well-versed in old time and early Country music, she incorporates her ukulele playing into the Night Drivers’ repertoire. Grace also loves harmony singing, and her voice blends naturally with Chris’ and Mark’s. Both her uke, banjo, and harmony singing can be heard on the band’s latest single, “We Needed This Ride.”
Chris Jones’ “Fork in the Road” won the IBMA Song of the Year award in 2007, when it appeared on the infamous Stringdusters’ album of the same name. Today, Chris continues to build on his sparkling career by writing new songs that display solid craftsmanship, deep emotion, and inventive subject matter. As he has for the past two decades, Chris creates original Bluegrass music that maintains the highest standards, lyrically and musically. He shows that it is possible to write directly from the heart in a way that is authentic to the roots of Bluegrass as well as the contemporary world in which he lives.