Chris Jones - Founder and front man of The Night Drivers, Chris Jones is a quadruple threat as a singer, a songwriter, a guitarist—and, thanks to his role hosting SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction, as one of the most widely heard broadcasting voice in bluegrass. His immediately recognizable voice, warm sense of humor and abundance of talent have combined to make him one of the music’s most distinctive personalities, and one of its strongest artists.
Following apprenticeships with bluegrass legend Dave Evans and Chicago’s durable Special Consensus, Chris moved to Nashville at the end of the 1980s as a member of the band Weary Hearts, where his colleagues included Ron Block (Alison Krauss & Union Station), Mike Bub (Del McCoury Band, 18 South) and acclaimed mandolin master, the late Butch Baldassari. Forming The Night Drivers in the mid 1990s, he’s led the band through a set of stellar recordings and tours while appearing and recording with some of the world’s most respected musicians including The Chieftains, Earl Scruggs, Vassar Clements and Tom T. Hall. And while The Night Drivers have made extensive use of his original songs, they’ve also been recorded by a range of other artists, including the Gibson Brothers, Lou Reid & Carolina and The Chapmans.
Chris’ range of talents took center stage at the IBMA’s Awards Show in 2007, where he earned both a Song Of The Year award as a co-writer of “Fork In The Road,” the title track of the year’s Album Of The Year by The Infamous Stringdusters, and the organization’s Broadcaster Of The Year trophy. The occasion marked the first time that both music and industry awards have gone to a single person.
Since then, Chris has continued to draw attention for all aspects of his multi-faceted career:
In 2012, he and The Night Drivers had the #1 song for the entire year in bluegrass radio airplay, a song he co-wrote with bassist Jon Weisberger, “Final Farewell.”
With the release of Lonely Comes Easy, Chris and the band put an even stronger emphasis on their original material, unique arrangements, as well as their characteristic humor, while maintaining the traditional bluegrass sound at its core. The album has received a string of rave reviews, and in September, 2013 the album yielded 5 different songs in the top 20 of Bluegrass Today’s weekly chart, including the #1 and #2 songs. Actor/director/comedian/banjo player Steve Martin said of their new release: “A haunting, silky-smooth CD by some of the best players in bluegrass. Chris Jones’ voice is there with the great masters, and The Night Drivers should no longer be driving at night, but playing music 24/7.”
Jon Weisberger - A member of the Night Drivers since the beginning of 2003, Jon Weisberger is a quadruple bluegrass threat as bass player, songwriter, radio producer and journalist. He first drew attention as a member of Cincinnati-based Union Springs, which released three well-received CDs in the 1990s, following that with a stint in the Wildwood Valley Boys before moving to Nashville at the end of 2002. In addition to his regular gig as a Nightdriver, he has also appeared with artists ranging from Hazel Dickens, Jimmy Martin and Roland White to Tony Trischka, Harley Allen, Melonie Cannon, 3 Fox Drive and Canadian fiddler April Verch. As a bluegrass journalist, he has written features and reviews for multiple publications and liner notes for more than 80 albums, earning him the IBMA’s Print Media Person of the Year award in 2000 and Best Liner Notes in 2001. His “Losing Again,” recorded by the Chapmans, was among the most popular songs of 2001, and his songs have subsequently been recorded by Del McCoury, Blue Highway, Jim Van Cleve, Dwight McCall and others. Since 2006, Jon has produced Into The Blue, the most widely syndicated bluegrass radio show in North America, and Sirius satellite radio’s Hand-Picked with Del McCoury.
Tim May - If you were not fortunate enough to have caught a show by the Nashville-based group Crucial Smith during its fifteen-year run, flatpicking guitarist Tim May has probably managed to fly under your flatpicking radar. If that is the case, then get ready for him to pop up on your screen and be added to your list of favorite flatpickers because he is starting to fly high. Guitar guru, toured with Patty Loveless promoting her bluegrass album, “Mountain Soul” and also played in Eddie Rabbitt’s “Hare-Trigger Band”. Tim has recorded three albums with “Crucial Smith”. He has been featured in “Flatpicking Guitar Magazine”, “Bluegrass Unlimited” and “Bluegrass Now”.
In the past couple of years he has toured with Patty Loveless, played on an all-star-cast Rounder project called Moody Bluegrass: A Nashville Tribute to he Moody Blues and recorded a bluegrass gospel project with Charlie Daniels. Additionally, FGM Records is getting ready to release Tim’s new solo CD and he is featured in a new FGM Records concert DVD with Brad Davis and Cody Kilby.
If you own the Flatpicking Favorites: Hot and Spicy CD and have listened to Cody Kilby and Tim May tear up “Lonesome Fiddle Blues,” you’ll know why Tim is now getting called to play so many prominent gigs in Nashville. As they say here in southwest Virginia, “The boy can pick!”
Elliott Rogers was born in Osceola, Arkansas and grew up in Albuquerque NM. He fell in love with bluegrass music at an early age by hearing local bands like the Big River Boys and the Clear Ditch Ramblers. His trio in High School opened for Doc Watson. “That was a mighty big deal for me and pointed me in the direction I took with music.” That path led Elliott to Austin Texas after a hitch in the Army at FT Hood. There he worked for years with songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, George Ensle and Blaze Foley, and recorded with Lyle Lovett , Nancy Griffith and Robert Earl Keen on Roberts first album, ‘No Kinda Dancer’
“Along with everything else, we hosted a weekly Musician Night at the Soap Creek Saloon and had a great time in Austin.” Elliott and his wife Janice moved back to Albuquerque and as fate would have it, started a band with 2 members of the Big River Boys, the band that he would sneak in to see as a kid. “Wayne Shrubsall has taught me everything I know about Bluegrass and is an outstanding banjo player and musician.” (Look for his CD with Alan Munde, ‘Old Friends’.) He and Claude Stephenson on mandolin and super talented wife Janice on Bass make up the current Elliott’s Ramblers and have been festival favorites in the southwest for nearly 20 years. Elliott is also a member of the ADOBE BROS. a popular band that plays a huge variety of songs and styles. The Brothers are Moby Adobe (Wayne Shrubsall), Toby Adobe (Bruce Thompson), Obi Juan Adobe (Tim DeYoung) and Hydrophoby Adobe. They recently added the lovely Anita Pricechek on bass. What a band! Elliott’s songs have won awards and have been recorded by Jill Jones, the Bluegrass Patriots and Sons and Brothers. Elliott brings driving rhythm guitar, smooth lead and harmony vocals and contributes original material to the Gazette.
Ned Luberecki - A 25-year professional who’s noted for his dazzling technique, originality and broad sense of humor, Ned Luberecki has served for over a decade in The Night Drivers. His resume includes stints with Paul Adkins & The Borderline Band; Gary Ferguson; Radio Flyer and the Rarely Herd, frequent winners of SPBGMA’s Entertaining Band Of The Year award. He’s also drawn growing attention as a popular banjo instructor at some of the most renowned instructional camps in the US, Canada and Europe. Like Chris, Ned is also a broadcaster on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction, where he hosts the regular newgrass show, Derailed, and the popular Sunday Banjo Lesson.
Since joining The Night Drivers, Ned has continued to make a name for himself as a guest on a variety of recordings and appearances, including tours with Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time and as the “other” banjo player with Tony Trischka’s Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular. In 2007, he released a popular solo project, Nedski, which included duets with friends like The Infamous Stringdusters’ Chris Pandolfi and Punch Brothers’ Noam Pikelny, along with comic favorites like “Cabin Of Death.” In 2010, he teamed up with the Sam Bush Band’s Stephen Mougin as Nedski & Mojo, releasing an acclaimed project (Nothing More) and making occasional appearances on shows like the syndicated Music City Roots.
Mark Stoffel - joined The Night Drivers over six years ago, but his ties with Chris date back to the 1990s when they met in Mark’s native Germany.
Now a resident of southern Illinois, where he teaches media at Southern Illinois University, Mark was a founding member of Shady Mix, a popular roots music group that toured around the world and recorded several well-received projects over its career.
A recording engineer as familiar with his studio as he is with his mandolin, Mark has recorded and produced a long string of albums by local, regional and even international groups. He has released a popular solo album, One-O-Five, as well as an album of holiday music, A Midwinter’s Eve, with guitarist Nathan Clark George.
Steve Smith - is a musician, composer, performer, and teacher. His music reflects the many influences his life, from his beginnings in Virginia as the son of a musician to his current home in the desert southwest (Las Cruces, New Mexico). You can observe these influences in his musical compositions, performances and multi-instrumental prowess as he conquers everything from Bluegrass and Old-time, to Jazz, chamber, Celtic and New Age music. Steve has performed professionally for over 25 years and has toured in 47 states, 8 European countries, Cuba, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He has appeared in the national touring company cast of the Harry Chapin musical "Cotton Patch Gospel" as an actor and multi-instrumentalist. He also appeared in the off-Broadway production hit "The Robber Bridegroom" and composed the score to the Sam Sheppard play "Curse of the Starving Class". He is founder and leader of the old-time, retro-bluegrass, modern acoustic band Steve Smith and Hard Road. He is a former member of the group Cloud Valley and the Nothin' Doin' band. Steve plays mandolin, sings lead and harmony vocals.
Sterling Masat is a multi instrumentalist who currently teaches guitar, banjo and bluegrass studies at South Plains College. He started playing fiddle at age 4 and then discovered a much deeper interest in the banjo and guitar, two of the many instruments that he's learned to play and create with. Growing up in his family's Bluegrass-Gospel band, he recorded and toured for over 10 years before pursuing a degree in Commercial Music at SPC. He then moved to Nashville where he toured internationally with The Roys and Janie Fricke before starting his tenure at South Plains College in the fall of 2012. Through his teaching, Sterling hopes to encourage musicians of all ages to find their passion and excel in every facet of their studies.
Nate Lee - Nate Lee brings a youthful energy to the camp. Like Steve Smith, Nate was born in Virginia, but moved to Texas when he was four years old. Growing up in a musical family in Ovilla, Texas (Nate’s father is banjo maker Chuck Lee), Nate started playing fiddle at the age of ten. He took lessons from Valerie O’Brien and gained valuable experience in Texas Old-Time Contest fiddling. Nate is currently a student at South Plains College. Nate plays fiddle and sings harmony vocals with the Alan Munde Gazette.
Tim McCasland - McCasland is a veteran of bluegrass music education with over twenty years experience as an instructor in the South Plains College Commercial music program. He is accomplished on the dobro, steel guitar, standard guitar and banjo. Tim's down-to-earth approach to music makes him an instant hit with students. Tim's many dobro instruction videos for Mel Bay Publications and Texas Music and Video have been popular for over ten years.
Dede Wyland - Best known in Bluegrass circles as the lead singer for Tony Trischa's influential 1980s band SKYLINE, Dede will share her beautiful voice and years of vocal teaching experience with a small group of lucky students. BACK AGAIN BY POPULAR DEMAND!
The Rest of the Faculty:
(special in their own ways)
Joe Carr - Joe is an experienced teacher with many instructional books and videos to his credit. He will present several special topic lectures during the camp.
Gerald Jones - Certified banjo weirdo, who also plays guitar, mandolin and fiddle, you are more likely to see him at 3 a.m. in the dorm teaching and picking, than in class at 10:00 a.m. His special topics sessions are camp favorites.TheGeraldJones.com
Alan Munde - World class banjo stylist featured in the banjo bible, SPC instructor and excellent teacher. Many years teaching experience give Alan special insight into the problems faced by players of all levels. His time tested techniques really work! www.AlanMundeGazette.com