CHRIS JONES & THE NIGHT DRIVERS
“Riding the Chief”
RECORD LABEL:Mountain Home Music Company
It’s been a while since he last flexed this particular musical muscle in the studio, but Chris Jones has long had an affinity for acoustic swing music. That—and the song’s roots in his personal history—makes “Riding the Chief,” the new Mountain Home Music Company single from Jones and his band, The Night Drivers, a bit of a homecoming.
Featuring some tastefully glistening instrumental work from band members Mark Stoffel (mandolins and harmony vocals), Grace van’t Hof (baritone ukelele, accordion and harmony vocals) and Marshall Wilborn (upright bass), “Riding the Chief” checks all the swing boxes, from Stoffel’s tuneful twin mandolin opening to Jones’ closed chord, “sock” guitar rhythm, to the way Wilborn locks in to guest drummer Tony Creasman’s easy lope, to the smooth, western-flavored harmonies of the song’s laid-back yet catchy chorus. For bluegrass fans, it’s an irresistible change of pace, served up by a familiar voice.
“This was my first co-writing effort after the start of the pandemic,” Jones reveals. “Thomm Jutz and I wrote this while over 2000 miles apart via FaceTime, after I told him the story. I thought the western swing-feel suited the geography of the journey.”
“It’s an autobiographical song,” he goes on to say. “When I was a kid, my parents lived at other ends of the country, and starting in my early teens, I took the train to New Mexico to spend summers and sometimes Christmas holidays with my dad and family. I loved everything about these trips and they made a huge and lifelong impression on me. Between Chicago and Albuquerque, the train was the old Santa Fe Super Chief, which by then was operated by Amtrak, now called the Southwest Chief. Though I got off in Albuquerque, the train continued to LA and had been the main train route between those cities since the 1930s, originally operated by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad. It’s still running.”
With its relaxed sway, its deftly written catalog of the journey’s waystations (and a regular infusion of details to characterize them) and, most of all, Jones’ warm, low-pitched vocal to deliver it, “Riding the Chief” is a satisfying slice of Americana that puts a distinctive new entry in the “train song” chapter of the bluegrass songbook.
KEY SELLING POINTS
- Chris Jones and his band The Night Drivers are coming off 4x #1 singles at bluegrass radio from their last album The Choosing Road
- Following that success, Jones' in continuing his winning ways with his last two singles, "Leave it at the Gate" and "Quiet Quick" (both originally released in 2020) landing at the top of the bluegrass charts
- Jones can also be heard emceeing on Sirius XM's Bluegrass Junction channel daily.