The World --- The troubadour. The minstrel. The wandering musician peddling tunes from town to town, sharing tales old and new.
It is the age-old story of the touring musician, and it is very much the story of Chris Jones and the Night Drivers. The group is set to release the aptly named Made To Move, (Mountain Home Music Company) on February 10, 2017; a distinctive offering from a truly global band of troubadours.
“I claim three or four home states and one home Canadian province,” Jones notes. “Our band has members scattered all over the continent, and we travel the world playing music together.”
In addition to the itinerant Jones, the Night Drivers include Jon Weisberger, who made his way to Tennessee from Ohio and has traversed the globe as a touring musician; Virginia native Gina Clowes; and Mark Stoffel, who makes his home in Southern Illinois by way of his native Germany. Stoffel recently took the oath of US citizenship.
Like the complex individuals who comprise this talented group, the songs on Made To Move are multi-faceted: an intelligent and introspective blend of the traditional, contemporary, meaningful, and provocative. There are songs of hardship and hope, songs that inspire and captivate, and yes, even a Bluegrass love song that weaves a tale without ending in someone’s untimely end.
Staying true to the strengths that make The Night Drivers both original and tenacious, ten of the twelve tracks are written by the band.
“Gone like a long freight train rumbling through the night. Gone like a big jet plane trailing out of sight. Gone just like yesterday’s news.” These are the opening lines to the album’s lead off song “All the Ways I’m Gone” (Jones/Weisberger). Then comes “The Wanderer,” which takes the path of the journeyman; a path that is part contemplation, part pilgrimage. “On my way to God’s great kingdom. Grateful for the road ahead, grateful for the miles that I have come.” This is the wanderer.
The group offers a new take on the very traditional “Dark Hollow” with a skillful, mid-track modulation. “Raindrops Fell” and “Living Without” are from the pen of bandleader, singer, and guitarist Chris Jones. They both speak of love lost but not forgotten with musical moods varying from the melancholy to the upbeat. There are four new songs from Jones and bass player Jon Weisberger, showcasing the diverse lyrical and melodic range of the dynamic writing duo that has contributed to every CJND release.
From the drive of “Range Road 53” to the Gospel number “Sleeping Through the Storm,” and on to the broody but vocally powerful “Silent Goodbye,” each number contributes to a significant and well-rounded album. The inclusion of “What the Heck?!” by Mark Stoffel (mando/vocals) and “Last Frost” by vocalist and banjo powerhouse Gina Clowes demonstrates excellence and creativity in the musicianship of CJND.
Even among touring musicians, there is something unique about the continual journey of Chris Jones and the Night Drivers. Four distinct personalities who bring a variety of experiences and influences to a common place. Movement, change, coming together and saying farewell, making the most of time together with meaningful ideas … this is the soul of the band and the spirit in which four minstrels offer Made To Move