Chris Jones, Ned Luberecki, Jon Weisberger and Mark Stoffel
Release Live at The Old Feed Store on October 7th, 2014
The album is now available at CD Baby:
Chris Jones & The Night Drivers Sign with Mountain Home at IBMA
“…one of the most distinctive voices in bluegrass,
a smooth, low croon that goes down like whiskey with a little bit of honey,”
—The Bluegrass Situation
How do you follow an album that features three #1 and two #2 bluegrass radio hits? If you’re Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, you give fans what they’ve been asking for—a live album that delivers a few choice new selections nestled among a flock of favorites, recorded in an intimate, small-town venue that brings out the best in the quartet’s soulful vocals, hotshot picking and easygoing humor. From its blazing opener, “Bound To Ride,” to its even speedier closer, “Pike County Breakdown,” Live At The Old Feed Store, hit the stores on October 7, 2014, and is one that long-time fans will treasure, and it’s also a perfect introduction to a group heading toward its 20th anniversary in bluegrass. The live album is a follow-up to 2013’s release Lonely Comes Easy, which was their first all-new collection since 2009’s Cloud Of Dust. Founded by guitarist Chris Jones in 1995, the Night Drivers feature four distinct personalities who bring a multitude of talents to each performance. Indeed, the group includes Jones, banjo man Ned Luberecki and bassist Jon Weisberger, and mandolinist Mark Stoffel.
The release of Live At The Old Feed Store comes on the heels of one of the busiest IBMA World of Bluegrass weeks ever for Chris Jones & The NIght Drivers. Topping the list of activities? That’s a hard call, but a few stand out, starting with the announcement that the quartet has signed a two album deal with North Carolina’s high-powered label, Mountain Home Music Company. Jones says, “We’ve been very impressed by the quality of Mountain Home’s roster and the strong record of results they’ve achieved in bluegrass music and beyond. We’re extremely excited about this opportunity to join the Mountain Home family.” Others on Mountain Home’s roster include Balsam Range, The Boxcars, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, and The Grascals. The Night Drivers will be working on a new studio album for 2015.
Also at IBMA was the reception of two IBMA awards–one to designer, label and artist for Best Graphic Design (Lonely Comes Easy, on Rebel Records designed by Lou Everhart), the other to Jones himself for Print Media Person of the Year. The group performed a showcase for booking agent Roe Entertainment and also a Wide Open Bluegrass festival slot in the Convention Center Ballroom with long-time friend and former Night Driver Jeremy Garrett (Infamous Stringdusters) on fiddle. Ned Luberecki served as off-stage announcer at the IBMA Awards Show on Thursday night, while Night Driver and IBMA Board Chair Jon Weisberger got his own shout-out from the Raleigh News & Observer when reporter David Menconi served up his Tuesday schedule as proof that the old saw that the organization’s initials stand for “I’ve Been Mostly Awake” is no joke (“Busy Days, Sleepless Nights During World of Bluegrass Week.”)
Early reaction to Live At The Old Feed Store has been favorable, with a choice quote, “Chris Jones & The Night Drivers is a great band, not just for the mastery of their instruments, but for the sheer joy they bring to all those who listen,” with the album also earning their top rating “Bad-Ass” coming from Philadelphia’s THAT MAG.
Live At The Old Feed Store features the Night Drivers’ music front and center, exemplified by the first single, “Battle Of The Bands,” which scored a world-exclusive premiere on Bluegrass Junction. The album displays the group’s wide range of inclinations, with nods to the Stanley Brothers (“Bound To Ride”), Johnny Horton (“I’m Ready If You’re Willin’”) and George Jones (“I Cried Myself Awake”), banjo pyrotechnics (Luberecki’s own “Emergency Pulloff” and a blistering “Pike County Breakdown”) and well-crafted originals (“Like A Hawk,” “Then I Close My Eyes,” and “Lonely Town”).
Alongside these, the Night Drivers have laid in a selection of fan favorites, including Stoffel’s glistening take on The Sound Of Music’s ever-popular “Edelweiss” (followed by a lively turn on an old-time fiddle tune, “Forked Deer”), the gospel quartet of “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms,” and Luberecki’s comic tour de force, “Cabin Of Death,” one of the group’s most requested numbers.
A couple of guests make appearances—Sally Jones contributes harmonies to “Follow Your Heart,” and 2013 IBMA Momentum Vocalist of the Year Emily Bankester recaps her Lonely Comes Easy appearance on “Then I Close My Eyes”—with the focus all on the Night Drivers, who show conclusively that no studio magic is needed for them to deliver compelling performances. From start to finish, Live At The Old Feed Store delivers a faithful representation of a Chris Jones & The Night Drivers set, and as their busy schedule shows, that’s something that audiences are always eager to share.
The group celebrates the release on October 8th with a show at the recording venue, The Old Feed Store in Cobden, IL, followed by a Tennessee weekend that includes dates in Norris, the Fall Homecoming Festival at the Museum of Appalachia and Nashville’s Oktoberfest in Germantown. The band had notable appearances this year at Big Sky Big Grass, Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, MerleFest, DelFest, Bluegrass on the Plains, The Huck Finn Jubilee, Targhee Bluegrass Festival, Bean Blossom, and The Bourbon & Bluegrass Steamboat Tours. Big Sky Big Grass gets the award for the biggest on-stage jams with the Sam Bush Band and Del McCoury joined the Night Drivers on stage at DelFest to sing on “Wolf Creek Pass.” Luberecki was part of MerleFest’s First ever BanjoRama which was hosted by “Dr. Banjo” Pete Wernick. They’ll be traveling for a European tour for ten days in October of 2014 and will be on the road for dates throughout 2015.
Chris Jones & the Night Drivers on Tour
10/8 Wed – The Old Feed Store – Cobden, IL
10/10 Fri – Tennessee Fall Homecoming, Museum of Appalachia – Norris, TN
10/11 Sat – Kimbro’s Cafe 11am – Franklin, TN
10/11 Sat – Oktoberfest in Historic Germantown 4pm – Nashville, TN
10/22-27 – European Tour
11/15-16 Sat- Sun – Wickenburg Bluegrass & Fiddle Championship – Wickenburg, AZ
12/12: Bluegrass in the Smokies – Pigeon Forge, TN