Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Chris Jones & The Night Drivers CD Release
On a rainy, warm Sunday evening after the exhausting and exciting rigors of a week attending the annual IBMA Conference and Fan Fest in Nashville, we returned to Music City's prime entertainment street, Broadway, for the Chris Jones & The Night Drivers CD release party. The rain helped to wash clean the street, which only last night had been crowded with drunken revelers whose joy seemed cloaked in late night torpor as we drove past at 2:30 AM. This evening, the seedy street and Layla's Bluegrass Inn, a pretty seedy bar in its own right, seemed the perfect venue for this very fine band to greet its fans a loose a very good recording on the world.
Chris Jones may be best known for his work as a dj on XM/Sirius satellite radio, especially for his deep knowledge of the history of bluegrass displayed on his weekly "True Grass" program. His mellifluous voice combines with an authoratative presentation to present an always arresting program. His regular daily programs demonstrate his depth and breadth still further, as he programs a wide variety of traditional and contemporary music. This range is distinctly on view in his new CD "Cloud of Dust," which he and his very able band released at The Bluegrass Inn on Sunday night. Containing fourteen songs running the range from deeply affecting to joyously satirical, the collection shows wisdom and wit, a rare combination in bluegrass music. I'll try to write a review of the CD within the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, Chris Jones career has been long and he has reached into many corners of the music and media worlds. Check out his bio on his web site.
Chris's band is composed of a very accomplished crew of Nashville veterans as well as Mark Stoffel, on mandolin, who came from Illinois just for the event. Ned Luberecki, Chris' colleague at XM/Sirius and a seriously excellent banjo picker, plays banjo on the CD. At the release party, he also offered up a funny and insightful song called "The Perfect Bluegrass Song," which can be found on his CD "Nedski." Jon Weissberger is well known for his bluegrass writing in prose and on songs as well as his play on bass with Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standard Time as well as other bands. Aaron Til was wonderful on fiddle as well as contributing his own unique version of Tennessee Waltz to the festivities. It's always a delight, and somewhat rare these days, to see and hear the real band that's on a CD in performance. Guests on the CD include Darrin Vincent, Sally (Mrs. Chris) Jones, Jeremy Garrett, Mike Witcher, Megan Lynch, and Shawn Lane, but the core band is strong and really needs no augmentation.
An event like this one usually attracts an interesting combination of friends and fellow musicians. Because Chris and his band made two tours in Europe this past summer, the crowd was unusually international in scope, attracting some of the European crowd who had attended their concerts abroad as well as local musicians and tourists like us.
Lily Pawlak (Czech Republic and Switzerland)
Stephen Mougin (The Sam Bush Band)
Darwin Davidson and Carol Goodwin
Donna Ulisse and Missy Raines
"Cloud of Dust" by Chris Jones and the Night Drivers is a first rate piece of bluegrass, varied and interesting. You can buy it from Chris' web site or other sources. It will make a solid contribution to any collection.