Chris Jones & The Night Driver

Leave It At The Gate'brings honesty, authenticity

Chris Jones is a storyteller who has long used acoustic music, mostly Bluegrass and  mostly original, as his medium.  But whether it’s a wistful Country ballad or a banjo-driven groove, one of his own or from the pen of a Music Row legend, the honesty and authenticity in his musical voice are just like his warm, nuanced baritone itself,  unmistakable.  So, too, are the honesty and authenticity of the stories he tells, and the newest  release from Chris Jones & the Night Drivers, “Leave It At The Gate,” is also the latest illustration of the way that his music is rooted in real life.

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.    They continue  delivering  their music with a unique blend of dry wit, emotional authenticity and broad humor.   The band has  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.”

The band includes  Mark Stoffel (look for his article in this month's magazine as well)  on mandolin, Grace van’t Hof on banjo and ukelele and Marshall Wilborn on bass, is led by Chris’ soulful lead-singing, songwriting, 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.

Altogether, members of Chris Jones & The Night Drivers have won more than a dozen IBMA awards and have recorded more than ten #1 songs. The Night Drivers also bring name recognition in related fields, as luegrass fans are well-familiar with Jones for his award-winning work as a SiriusXM DJ, on both Bluegrass Junction and Willie’s Roadhouse.

“This is a song that sings the praises of the kind of job you can put behind you at the end of the day,”  Jones  notes.  “I’ve had a variety of jobs, from cow milker and delivery driver to baker and disc jockey, and while being a self-employed band leader and recording artist is very rewarding, and I’d never trade it, there are times when the kind of job that has an end point every day, one you can ‘leave at the gate’,  has a lot to be said for it."   

The song’s insistent message,  "I don’t have to let my job define me.  Because I get to leave it at the gate”," has a timeliness the writers couldn’t have intended when the song was recorded, but stands out nonetheless as a kind of anthem for those whose lives have meaning beyond the daily work routine.

 

The sound, too, matches the sentiment of the single, the latest in a string of hits penned by Jones and one-time Night Driver, Jon Weisberger. “It was nice to reunite with Jon as co-writer on this one, even if he’s no longer a member of the band,” Jones says. “This one spotlights Grace van’t Hof’s driving banjo work and her and Mark Stoffel’s  harmony vocals.” 

 

And with award-winning bassist, Marshall Wilborn, joining the group at the same time as van’t Hof, the Night Drivers present  lineup is second to none.  “I don’t feel the need for second-guessing.   I’m glad for the choices that I’ve made,” Jones sings as the song nears its end, sounding a note that mixes acceptance and confidence in a way that surely echoes many listeners’ own thoughts, and makes “Leave It At The Gate” a likely candidate for the next Chris Jones & the Night Drivers #1.  

 

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