Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bluegrass Monday, Collins Theatre
Paragould, AR
March 27, 2017
     Chris Jones and the Night Drivers is a name well known and respected in bluegrass music circles. It took them considerable time to get back around to northeastern Arkansas, but the fans at the Collins Theatre welcomed the band with enthusiasm. KASU FM 91.9 (on the campus of Arkansas State University, Jonesboro) and its Program Director, Marty Scarbrough, proudly presented the band to Bluegrass Monday (4th Monday of each month) on March 27. All the members of the band have played with some industry heavy-weights, and pooling their collective talents made for a smooth transition.
L to R: Mark Stoffel, Chris Jones, Jon Weisberger, Gina Clowes

     Chris Jones (guitar, vocals) has been at this game for over 30 years and he has produced 12 CDs. Made to Move was recently released and it already has a number one hit--"I'm a Wanderer". Chris' songs have been recorded by the likes of the Gibson Brothers, the Infamous Stringdusters, and the Chapmans. In 2007, he won the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) award for Song of the Year. In addition to writing and recording, Chris is one of the hosts of Sirius XM's Bluegrass Junction, and he has twice captured honors for IBMA Broadcaster of the Year. Furthermore, Chris writes a column for the "Bluegrass Today" website. Busy fellow, that Chris Jones!
     Jon Weisberger (bass, vocals) has served as the bass player (three-time IBMA winner) for the band for a number of years. As with Chris Jones, Jon writes songs and hosts programs on Sirius XM's Bluegrass Junction. You may often catch Jon on bass at Nashville, Tennessee's Station Inn and with the Roland White Band.
     Mark Stoffel (mandolin, vocals) handles the mandolin and vocals like the pro that he is. Originally from Germany, Mark has recently become an American citizen. Welcome to America, Mark! Formerly with the band Shady Mix, he performed at Bluegrass Monday on two occasions with that band. He has been a Night Driver for ten years.
     Gina Clowes (banjo, vocals) is the newest member of the band. Her banjo work is smooth and spot-on! In earlier times, Gina could often be seen as a finalist at the banjo competition at the Galax (VA) Old Fiddler's Convention. Prior to coming aboard with the Night Drivers, Gina was a member of the band Bud's Collective and is on three CDs from that group.
     We like to tell you what songs each band does at these concerts; however, several songs received no introduction as to the titles. Because the microphones on the vocals were rather "muddy-sounding," we could not decipher some words and weren't able to guess at the titles. We shall take a chance at some titles on the Night Drivers' program:
     The Old Bell (written by Jon Weisberger), I Guess I Missed It, Life Song (Last Song? Instrumental by Gina Clowes), You Always Come Back to Hurting Me (made popular by Johnny Rodriguez), Sleeping Through the Storm (Gospel), Edelweiss (Instrumental interpretation by German-American Mark Stoffel), Gone, I'm a Wanderer (written by Thomm Jutz, Charlie Stefl, and Jon Weisberger), Laurie (written by Chris Jones and Jon Weisberger), You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone, One Night in Paducah, Cowboys Ain't Supposed to Cry (made popular by Moe Bandy), What the Heck (Instrumental by Mark Stoffel), Raindrops Fell (written by Chris Jones), Once You're Gone (written by Jeremy Garrett and Jon Weisberger), Dark Hollow, Deep River ("I'm divin' in but I'm not comin' up"), Pinto the Wonder Horse Is Dead, and Wolf Creek Pass.
     We had hoped for a bit more "punch" or "drive," which seemed to be lacking. It could have been the trouble with the sound. The band's instrumental work was superior, and we wish we could have understood the titles and words to several of their songs. All in all, we enjoyed the band and their performance.
     The performance will be repeated on KASU FM 91.9 on the Internet ( on Sunday, April 2, at around 12:30 PM CDT during the bluegrass program called Down Home Harmonies, hosted by DJ Marty Scarbrough. Be sure to listen!
Additional Information:
Chris Jones and the Night Drivers or
KASU FM 91.9

Sunday, March 26, 2017

MARCH 24, 2017
     NOW AND AGAIN...every once in a while...a real sweetheart of a bluegrass jam just sort of emerges from somewhere. Such was the case on a recent Friday evening. Local pickers were there, some loyal fans, too, and even a wonderful family from Nova Scotia showed up! How good is that? You can't predict this stuff, and when it happens, it's just magic!
     We will soon begin our 18th year of Friday night jams at the Collierville TN Historic Town Square, but at the moment we are still indoors trying to escape unpredictable March weather. We always welcome musicians at any level; fans, too, at any level! It's all free and it's all acoustic bluegrass music. No mics or amps, no alcohol, and no smoking/vaping in or near a jam group on the Square.
     Getting back to the sweetheart part, we kicked off the jam at about 6:30 PM BST (Bluegrass Standard Time). Each musician and fan picked out a spot to pick or watch--no assigned seats or order of importance. No chiefs, no "stars"--we're all in this together! We're just folks meeting weekly to have a good time around bluegrass music. Our current warm and dry location inside the Common Cup Coffee Shop just adds to the joy! Hot coffee, spiced tea, hot chocolate, and a few snacks make life just about "Friday night perfect" in our way of thinking.
     We will cut to the chase and show you photos from the jam, and we will ask you to join us at your first opportunity. We will move to the great outdoors on Friday, April 14, and take our chances with the weather. Bring lawn chairs or your pickin' stool and head on out to the Town Square around 6:30 PM. Stay as long as you wish. The Square is extraordinarily beautiful at this time of year, and there are restaurants and our favorite dairy bar to fill that hollow spot in case you get hungry. See you soon at the Collierville, TN, Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Jam! 
Pick away!  ( I )====='----<::}
Snapshots of a Bluegrass Good Time