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Bluegrass Monday To Feature Nothin’ Fancy Sept. 22


JONESBORO — The band Nothin’ Fancy will perform a concert of bluegrass music on Monday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. at the Collins Theatre, 120 West Emerson Street, in downtown Paragould. The concert is part of the Bluegrass Monday concert series presented by KASU 91.9 FM, the 100,000-watt public broadcasting service of Arkansas State University.

Nothin' Fancy
Nothin' Fancy
(left to right) Tony Shorter, Chris Sexton, Mike Andes, Jesse Smathers, Mitchell Davis

Nothin’ Fancy has been named “Entertaining Group of the Year” by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA) six times since 2008, including in 2014. The group has also been nominated by SPBGMA for “Vocal Group of the Year” awards, and band members have been nominated for individual awards as well.

From the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, Nothin’ Fancy was formed in 1994. This full-time, professional bluegrass band plays over 140 concerts each year, and the group has released 11 CDs. The band performs bluegrass standards, gospel songs, original melodies and unique bluegrass arrangements of songs from other styles of music. Group members are heavily influenced by the Country Gentlemen and the Seldom Scene, two groundbreaking bluegrass groups of the past who were from the same geographical region.

Lead vocalist and emcee for the group, Mike Andes, has been performing publicly since age 14. He was raised in a musical family, and formed his first band, the East Coast Bluegrass Band, in the early 1980s. Andes also plays mandolin for the band. He has been nominated for mandolin player of the year, male vocalist of the year, individual entertainer of the year, and songwriter of the year awards by SPBGMA. Andes released his first solo CD in 2013.

Mitchell Davis is also a founding member of Nothin’ Fancy. He plays banjo in the band, and he cites Earl Scruggs and Don Reno as influences on his playing. He has also been nominated by SPBGMA for the banjo player of the year award.

Guitarist Jesse Smathers is the newest member of Nothin’ Fancy. He sings and plays guitar in the band. He is a third-generation musician from North Carolina, and he began playing guitar at age 11. He won the 2009 Virginia Folk Music Association’s guitar championship, and he is a former member of the James King Band.

Chris Sexton was a guest fiddle player on Nothin’ Fancy’s second and third CDs, and he officially joined the band in 2000. In addition to playing bluegrass, Sexton is a classically trained violinist who has performed with numerous symphony orchestras. He has obtained a master’s degree in violin instruction from Shenandoah University, and he is an adjunct professor at the Woodbridge campus of Northern Virginia Community College where he teaches violin, viola and cello.

Sexton is an in-demand session musician in the Washington, D.C., area. Recordings of his music have been featured on television programs on the Discovery Channel, the Learning Channel, PBS and the National Geographic Channel. Sexton has also produced two solo fiddle music CDs.

Bassist Tony Shorter is also a founding member of Nothin’ Fancy who still performs with the group. Shorter did not become a musician until he entered college, but by his own admission he “spent more time pickin’ than studying.” At one point in his musical career, Shorter played regularly with five different groups, performing not only bluegrass but also jazz, reggae and rock music. He eventually committed to his first musical love, bluegrass, and became part of Nothin’ Fancy.

In addition to the concert, Terry’s Café, 201 South Pruett Street in Paragould, opens on Bluegrass Monday nights to welcome bluegrass music fans. The café serves a catfish buffet meal beginning at 4:30 p.m. on the evenings of Bluegrass Monday concerts. Concessions will also be available at the Collins Theatre.

Bluegrass Monday concerts are held on the fourth Monday night of each month. These concerts are presented with support from Bibb Chiropractic, the Posey Peddler, Holiday Inn Express and Suites of Paragould, the Northeast Arkansas Bluegrass Association and KASU.

The suggested donation to pay the group is $5 per person.

For more information, contact KASU program director Marty Scarbrough at mscarbro@astate.edu or (870) 972-2367. Bluegrass Monday is also on Facebook (search “Bluegrass Monday”). Additional information and photographs are available at http://www.nothinfancybluegrass.com/