Chris Jones and the Night Drivers Celebrate 20 Years, New CD
It is safe to safe to say that Chris Jones and Night Drivers are having a fantastic year. They are celebrating 20 years in the business and enjoying the success of their latest project – “Run Away Tonight” which was the first Jones and the band has released on the Mountain Home label.
Jones recalled the start of the band. “I had been a side man with various Bluegrass artist,” he said when he made the decision to start something himself. He said that band has had various changes through the years, but things have settled down to the core group they have now.
So did Jones know back then that the band would still be touring and making records two decades later. “I have a tendency not to think that far down the road,” he said. Jones said the thing that he does not take for granted is having the same people for the amount of time that they have.
The band does a lot songwriting, as Jones said over half of the stuff they release are original songs. He said they don’t do a lot of current songs from outside writers. The band has recorded a Bruce Horsby song, a Lefty Frizell song and couple of Charley Pride songs.
How has the music changed over the last 20 years? “The traditional bluegrass market is surprisingly the same,” Jones said. He said their music has not changed a whole lot. “Bluegrass bands have tended to expand to six or seven pieces,” he said, adding that they have kept the four piece.
Jones said “Run Away Tonight” is the first project his band has recorded on the Mountain Home label. “I think they are really at the forefront of things in bluegrass music,” Jones said.
If “Run Away Tonight” sounds like it has a natural sound, there’s a reason for that. “We had been together long enough now that things kind of came easy rhythmically…,” Jones said.
Jones said “Run Away Tonight” features more co-written songs. He said it’s probably the most original album the band has done. However, the record does have a Tom T. Hall Song called “Pinto The Wonder Horse.” Jones said he felt really at home with the song, but added that he did feel nervous when playing it for Hall.
According to Jones, Mountain Home really gave the band creative freedom. “That’s one of the things that appealed to us,” he said.
The band has done a lot of touring, both in the United States and throughout the world. “We have done a fair amount of playing in Europe through the years,” Jones said, adding that he found it rewarding to play in Chech Republic. “It reminds you a little bit of playing in Nashville where a bunch of musicians come out to watch everything you’re doing.”
In addition to fronting his band for two decades, Jones has been radio for nearly that long. “I had always done radio on the side,” Jones explained. “It’s hard to maintain a regular radio gig when you are a touring musician.”
Then, an opportunity with Sirius Radio made it possible for him to do both. “I knew the guy who was hired as a program director for the Bluegrass Channel,” Jones said. He said with technology being the way it is today, he was able to do his shows from the road. “When I started, they didn’t have any studios anywhere,” he said.
Jones also writes humor columns in Bluegrass Today magazine once a week.
The band is on Facebook and Twitter. Jones said social media helps them communicate with their fans. “It’s constantly evolving,” he said. “Our band started in the era of people compiling a mailing list and mailing out cards.”