Chris and Sally Jones, Dead Ends Live, Edmonton March 18, 2023

A rare opportunity to see and hear members of the bluegrass family playing an intimate duo gig this evening.

DeadEnds Live, a two-day fest of Grateful Dead-related music in downtown Edmonton, made its second appearance this weekend, and all reports from those in attendance were that it was incredible.

I managed to convince myself to make the journey into the city to catch Chris and Sally Jones play a too-brief set of songs from both their repertoires as well as several ‘brother’ duets. Most memorable were Sally’s heartfelt tribute to her father, “The Farmer,” Chris’ renderings of “Whither You Roam” and “Riding the Chief,” and their presentation of songs from the McReynolds and Louvins. Chris also took the lead on a rendition of “Dark Hollow” performed in a manner I’ve never before experienced; I’m not sure how to describe it but to crib from his introduction that it is “a medley of one song.” Quite remarkable. Chris is an incredible guitar player, and he took many lead breaks that were stunning in their clarity. Speaking with a musician after the show, he agreed with my assertion that Jones’ skill in ‘working the mic’ is phenomenal. This was aptly demonstrated on the closing rendition of “Rueben’s Train.”

I was told that there is a planned European tour upcoming featuring Sally, her sister Sandra, and Sandra’s husband Ron Block, along with Chris so that would be something to catch if they are in your neighbourhood. Sally’s presence on the bluegrass music scene these past many years has been minimal, so perhaps this signals a return to regular performance. She also has a new live album available, collecting performances from various European appearances; unfortunately, it doesn’t appear available on iTunes, so I missed my chance. Will keep eyes peeled in the future for that.

I had planned on staying for more music, but the opportunity to catch-up with a number of bluegrass pals was too appealing, and by the time that had wound up- it felt like bed time…and now I find myself wide awake.

Kudos to Peter North, his team of organizers and volunteers, and all the artists and sponsors who came together to present Dead Ends Live, and we hope we can attend more shows the next time around.

Watch this space for additional news about Chris Jones and the Night Drivers, coming soon! (Like, before the end of March!)

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