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Tennessee Mafia Jug Band to Perform at KASU’s Bluegrass Monday


JONESBORO — The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band will perform a concert Monday, May 23, as part of the Bluegrass Monday concert series presented by KASU 91.9 FM, the public broadcasting station of Arkansas State University. The concert begins at 7 p.m. at the Collins Theatre, 120 West Emerson Street, in downtown Paragould. 

Tennessee Mafia Jug Band 2016
Tennessee Mafia Jug Band (clockwise, from top left) — Dan Kelly, Mike Webb, Mike Armistead, Ernie Sykes and Leroy Troy

KASU will literally “pass the hat” to collect money to pay the group.  The suggested donation is $5 per person.

Performing together since 1997, the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band presents “a blast from the past,” a style of music and comedy that recalls old-time country musicians and television programs like Hee Haw.  The talented musicians in the band wear costumes, incorporate props into their shows, tell corny jokes and present slapstick and family-friendly comedy.  A comic-relief feature from the Roy Acuff show called, “Pap and the Jug Band,” inspires the band’s stage show.

Musically, the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band is influenced by Stringbean, Grandpa Jones, Roy Acuff and Uncle Dave Macon.  The band has appeared numerous times on the Grand Ole Opry and on the Marty Stuart Show on RFD-TV.  The group also has produced five CDs.

In the band, Leroy Troy plays banjo and a variety of unique accessories including washboard, duck call and bicycle bell.  As a youngster, Troy was mentored in old-time country music and entertaining by Roy Acuff and Cordell Kemp.  He was a regular on Hee Haw for two years, appearing as the character “Billy Bob.”  Troy also appears each week on the Marty Stuart Show on RFD-TV.  He has been given numerous awards and commendations for his efforts in preserving old-time country music.

Dan Kelly plays fiddle for the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band and has won numerous fiddle contests, including the Grand Masters Fiddle Championship in Nashville.  He has played fiddle in the bands of Acuff, Pam Tillis, Alan Jackson, Faith Hill and Clint Black.

Ernie Sykes plays upright bass for the band.  Sykes played bass in Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys as well as in the Lonesome River Band and the Bluegrass Cardinals.

Mike Armistead sings and plays guitar in the group.  Along with Troy, Armistead was featured on the Outsiders Inn, a comedy series broadcast on the Country Music Television (CMT) cable channel.  Armistead serves as the band’s booking agent and also works in Nashville as a member of the fire department.

Mike Webb, who plays Dobro steel guitar in the band, was a student of long-time Acuff collaborator Bashful Brother Oswald.  Oswald’s widow gave Webb her husband’s Dobro and banjo, both of which Webb continues to play.  Webb has also appeared regularly on the Cumberland Highlanders program on RFD-TV.

More information about the band is available at www.tennesseemafiajugband.com

The doors to the theatre will open at 6 p.m. on the night of the concert, and seating will be first-come, first-served.

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.

KASU, 91.9 FM, is the 100,000-watt public broadcasting service of Arkansas State.  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”).