Riding The Chief from Chris Jones & The Night Drivers

Also with a new single this week is our very own Chris Jones, with all his dutiful Night Drivers. Mountain Home Music is set to release his latest tomorrow, June 9, an autobiographical train song called Riding The Chief.

It’s a swingy number which Jones tells us has a good bit of his life in the lyrics.

“When I was in my early teens, I started to take what’s now called the Amtrak Southwest Chief to see my dad’s side of the family in New Mexico. My dad had moved out there when I was around 9 or 10. The train was originally the Santa Fe Super Chief, which started running in the 1930s from Chicago to Los Angeles, following the Santa Fe trail in the southwest. After a long Chicago layover, I boarded there in the afternoon and arrived in Albuquerque the following day. I loved this whole experience and did it at least once a year, sometimes twice, for several years.

It was on one those Chicago layovers that I first auditioned for Special Consensus when I was 20. Greg Cahill dropped me back off at the station and I boarded the Chief to Albuquerque.

As a songwriter, Thomm Jutz loves a true and personal story, so he was the ideal person to co-write this with. We wrote it early in in the pandemic last year on a FaceTime call. Old technology meets new!”

The track finds Chris in his usual position on guitar and lead vocal, but playing in a western swing sock rhythm, supported by Mark Stoffel on mandolin, Marshall Wilborn on bass, and Grace van’t Hof on baritone ukelele. Mark and Grace supply the harmony vocals, with guest fiddle coming from David Johnson and drums by Tony Creasman.


Look for Riding The Chief July 9 wherever you stream or download music online. Radio programmers can get the track now at AirPlay Direct.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.