Growing Into a Bluegrass Man

Just A Drifter (Rebel)
Chris Jones

By Bob Mitchell

The first time I heard Chris Jones was about 1995 at Gary Brewer's "Strictly Bluegrass" Festival. Since that time, Jones' voice, guitar work and songwriting have matured tenfold. His latest release is superb and gets better with each listening. But you don't have to take my word: Jon Weisberger, named by IBMA as author of the `Best Liner Notes' for 2001, says Jones' "mournful, clean baritone is one of the more striking and evocative voices to emerge in Bluegrass in the past decade." I say "amen" to that.

Seven of the twelve tracks here are original. "Uphill Climb," is driven hard by Dan Tyminski's mandolin and Luke Bulla's fiddle. Three songs feature Ron Stewart: `Tonight I'm Gonna Ride," "The Last Nail" and "BRN Breakdown (which is a blistering instrumental). "Heartaches To Forget" is a great western swing number that showcases some fine mandolin playing from Paul Kramer. Jones' talented wife Sally helped him write "Just A Town" and "Witness," an unusual gospel number with a powerful message about forgiveness. (Sally's latest release, "Love Hurts" is on the Pinecastle label.)

"Cowboys Ain't Supposed To Cry," a new cover from the Mo Bandy book, is a beautiful melody. In fact, it is almost too pretty to be a cowboy/bluegrass song. This track, a heartfelt rendition, represents Jones at his finest. "The Man On The Side Of The Road" is another song in a long string of classic melodic stories from the prolific pens of Tom T and Dixie Hall.

Throughout the project, Jones is backed up by some of the finest musicians in the business in Tyminski and Stewart, along with Rob Ickes (dobro), Ron Block (guitar, banjo), and Tim O'Brien (fiddle, vocals). This one is a winner!