Bluegrass Monday Slates ‘Nothin’ Fancy’ for Concert
JONESBORO – The band Nothin’ Fancy will perform a concert of bluegrass music on Monday, May 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.
(Front row from left) Mitchell Davis, Mike Andes. (Back row) Caleb Cox, Chris Sexton, Tony Shorter.
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 performed at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, the Lincoln Center in New York City, Dollywood in Pigeon Forge and Silver Dollar City in Branson.
Nothin’ Fancy has released 11 CDs, and the group records for the Mountain Fever record label. 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 as the members of the band.
Nothin’ Fancy has been named “Entertaining Group of the Year” six times by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA.) The group was inducted into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015.
Lead vocalist and emcee for the group, Mike Andes, has been performing publicly since age 14. He was raised in a musical family, and he formed his first band, the East Coast Bluegrass Band, in the early 1980s. Andes, a founding member of Nothin’ Fancy, 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 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.
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 obtained a master’s degree in violin instruction from Shenandoah University, and 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, Public Broadcasting Service and the National Geographic Channel. Sexton has also produced solo CDs of both old-time fiddle music and classical music.
Bassist Tony Shorter is also a founding member of Nothin’ Fancy. 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.
Caleb Cox plays guitar and resophonic guitar for the band. He spent seven years playing in his family’s band, Clearwater Branch, and he performed with the Deer Creek Boys before joining Nothin’ Fancy. He has won multiple guitar and resophonic guitar picking competitions, and was named Male Vocalist of the Year by the Virginia Folk Music Association in 2014.
More information about the band is at www.nothinfancybluegrass.com.
Seating at the concert is first-come, first-served. Doors to the theatre will open at 6 p.m. KASU will literally “pass the hat” to collect money to pay the group. The suggested donation is $5 per person.
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 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 the Northeast Arkansas Bluegrass Association, Bibb Chiropractic, the Posey Peddler, Holiday Inn Express and Suites of Paragould, and KASU.
KASU, 91.9 FM, is the 100,000-watt public broadcasting service of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. For more information, contact KASU Program Director Marty Scarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or (870) 972-2367. Bluegrass Monday is also on Facebook (search “Bluegrass Monday”).