Tuesday, May 23, 2017

NOTHIN' FANCY
ROCKS THE COLLINS THEATRE
IN PARAGOULD, AR
AGAIN!
May 22, 2017  
Marty Scarbrough introducing
Nothin' Fancy
 
Marty Scarbrough under Collins
Theatre Marquee
 
NOTHIN' FANCY just rolled through Paragould, AR, to rock the Collins Theatre again! Marty Scarbrough, Program Director at KASU 91.9 FM, chose very well to feature the band at "Bluegrass Monday" in May of 2017. We recall the dynamic quintet's appearance in 2014, but we couldn't recall what happened to 2015. We had no blog record of their appearance at the theatre in 2015. Band leader Mike Andes cleared up the question when he mentioned an ice storm in the area in February of 2015. Mystery solved! We stick pretty close to home when there is ice or other threatening weather in that area of northeast Arkansas.
 
     May 22, 2017, provided fine weather for a trip to see this wonderful band once again. We went, we ate at Terry's Café prior to the concert, and we were delighted with their performance. If you missed them, you may wish to travel to Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, for some shows over the next few days. The band is worth the trip!
 
L to R: Chris Sexton, Caleb Cox, James Cox, Mike Andes, Mitchell Davis

     We shall borrow from ourselves and our 2014 blog to create a combo-blog with introductions of two new yet fabulous musicians and new photos.
 
     'Nothin' Fancy rolled into Paragould in a big, bright yellow bus. They parked beside the Collins Theatre. People naturally noticed. A bus like that is a pretty big deal in Paragould. Actually, that bus is about as far as the 'fancy' label goes. They're not a fancy band, but their music is pure magic! The band has a yellow busload of honors from the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA) and the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). Frankly, it was difficult to hold this band down in their native spot in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. As leader Mike Andes said, "Someone should write a song with those four words (Shenandoah Valley of Virginia)." Too late, Mike. Somebody wrote it already.
 
     Mike Andes, the self-taught professional singer and mandolinist, is a founding member of Nothin' Fancy, the band which began to take shape in 1994. Prior to that, Mike formed the East Coast Bluegrass Band. He describes his appearance as sort of leftover-hippy. Don't let that fool you for one minute. There is a big voice on this guy, along with his expert mandolin artistry. His inspiration for the band's music is Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen, with a lot of the Seldom Scene thrown in for good measure. The affable instrument builder (mandolins and fiddles, even a 5-string fiddle) and performer is also a proud grandfather.
 
     Mitchell Davis plays banjo in the group. He can also handle vocals, the guitar, and the fiddle. He was smitten with Earl Scruggs and Don Reno at a young age. Mitch also comes out of the East Coast Bluegrass Band. His early mentors were also the Country Gentlemen and the Seldom Scene. Mitch produced several of the Nothin' Fancy albums.
L to R: Chris Sexton, Caleb Cox, James Cox (at rear),
Mike Andes, Mitchell Davis
     Chris Sexton is the 'fiddle player's fiddle player'! Chris was, and still is, known as a successful violinist. He has performed with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, the Roanoke Symphony, and the Loudoun symphony. He has a master's degree in violin pedagogy [teaching violin through private lessons]. Chris also performed with the East Coast Bluegrass Band. There's more! There is Chris' violin work that could be heard in recent years on the Discovery Channel, the Learning Channel, PBS and the National Geographic Channel. He is a sought-after session musician and a natural performer who is fun to watch. Handling vocal parts as well, Chris fits in perfectly with Nothin' Fancy.
 
     Caleb Cox comes to Nothin' Fancy with his powerful voice and guitar work. We were thrilled to be introduced to this young man and his talent. He seems completely at home in his role as amazing guitarist and singer.
 
     James ("Cool Cat") Cox is Caleb's brother. He hangs to the back of the stage arrangement of Nothin' Fancy, but the man is a very accomplished upright bass player. Virginia has reared many a fine bluegrass musician, and James and Caleb Cox are two great examples of the younger generation in bluegrass. We think that the future of bluegrass music is very bright with these young men!
L to R: Chris Sexton, Caleb Cox, James Cox (at rear),
Mike Andes, Mitchell Davis
     Here's the program for the concert:
     SET ONE: Headin' Back to Ol' Tennessee, I Know That Dreams Come True, The Leaves Mustn't Fall, Sunny Side of the Mountain (Caleb Cox featured), Handsome Molly, Little Wooden Crosses, Andersonville, The Circuit Rider, Cheap Whiskey, Uncle Pen
 
     SET TWO: All the Same in Love, War, and Games; Someday We'll Meet Again, Sweetheart; Two Different Worlds; Tupelo County Jail; Redwood Hills; Simon Crutchfield's Grave; Secret of the Waterfall; Lonesome Without You; Grandma Bought a Hog; The Touch of Your Hand; Orange Blossom Special; Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" ("Spring" solo by Chris Sexton); Encore: The Last Train from Poor Valley
 
For more information:
Nothin' Fancy website: www.nothinfancybluegrass.com  Search them on Facebook, too. Latest album: "Nothin' Fancy: Where I Came From" (Mountain Fever Records, 2016)
 
Bluegrass Monday on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/BluegrassMonday
 
KASU 91.9 FM with Marty Scarbrough (on the campus of Arkansas State University, Jonesboro) will replay the concert by Nothin' Fancy on Sunday, May 28, 2017, on "Down Home Harmonies" at 12:30 PM CDT. Catch the show on radio or online (www.kasu.org)
 
The Collins Theatre: 120 W. Emerson St., Paragould, AR
 
Terry's Café: 201 South Pruett, Paragould, AR. Delicious catfish buffet served on "Bluegrass Mondays" from 4:30p to 6:45p prior to performances at the Collins Theatre.
 
 
 
    

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

CLAIRE LYNCH BAND UPDATES
CLICK EARLIER 2.27.17 POST
FOR RECENT ADDITIONS (4.26.17)
 
 
L to R: Bryan McDowell, Claire Lynch, Mark Schatz, Jarod Walker
 
We've updated with new bookings from Washington and Oregon on the West Coast to the Canadian provinces on the East Coast and even in the middle. More coming! Drop back and click the post from 2.27.17 to see where we are going to be now and in the future. We hope to see YOU soon at a show or festival!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Belmont Opens Gallery Of Rare Vintage
Guitars From A Reclusive Collector
Article by Amy Eskind / WPLN Nashville, TN
Nashville Public Radio 
April 25, 2017  
 
Steven Kern Shaw died unceremoniously in hospice care in August 2015 at age 72. You will not find an obituary. Yet what this guitar and mandolin collector amassed in his life is astounding.
 
Gibson F-5 mandolins signed by Gibson acoustic engineer Lloyd Loar in 1922-1924 are considered the finest mandolins ever made. Shaw owned six. Martin D-45 guitars made mid-1930s through 1942 are considered to be the finest steel string flat top acoustic guitars ever made. Shaw owned four. Martin style D-28 guitars with herringbone top trim made in the mid-1930s through mid-1940s are widely believed to be the finest bluegrass guitars ever made. And Shaw collected a whopping 43. Shaw's 500-piece collection is now a Belmont University treasure.
 
Music In His Blood And Royalties To Spend
 
Shaw was the son of clarinet player and band leader Artie Shaw and Betty Kern, the fourth of his eight wives -- the one just after Lana Turner and just before Ava Gardner. His parents divorced when he was two years old, and his father abandoned him. That same year, his grandfather on his mother's side passed away. He was Jerome Kern, beloved composer of the classics "Ol' Man River," "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." He left Shaw with a trust.
 
Shaw became a frequent shopper at Gruhn Guitar (sic) in Nashville. Store owner George Gruhn says Shaw never developed the musical brilliance of his father, nor his grandfather, but was nevertheless drawn to the finest quality vintage guitars and mandolins.
 
L to R: Randal Morton, GEORGE GRUHN, Christian Stanfield
Breakin' Up Winter, Cedars of Lebanon State Park
Lebanon, TN, March 2014

"He was a collector and a hoarder," Gruhn says. "He was not a great player, but he had a considerable amount of knowledge about the instruments. He was going for the cream of the crop. His basic income throughout life was, frankly, royalties from Jerome Kern, which supported his collecting habits."
 
The instruments had been stored in Shaw's house, without a security alarm or climate control--effectively taking 500 of the finest vintage guitars and mandolins out of circulation.
 
"His house, when we finally got into it, looked a lot like some of those TV shows about hoarders, the compulsive hoarders," Gruhn says. "He wouldn't let anyone in his house. He was afraid that people would find out what he had and break in. He was not one of the happier people that I've met."
 
"Late in his life he had no will, and I persuaded him that he really needed to have a will," Gruhn says. "The idea that it could be enjoyed by others and seen and heard was something that was pleasing to him, although he didn't want that done until after he was dead."
 
"These are important pieces of our cultural history, they are great instruments, they are fine study examples to show the evolution of some of the iconic instruments in American history, and these are the models that truly are the archetypes for virtually all of the instruments that followed," Gruhn says.
 
"These instruments are almost alive, and they have soul and personality. When you pick one up, the great instruments don't feel inanimate," Gruhn says. "They actually feel alive."
 
Some of the instruments have sapphires, engraved pearl inlays, and ivory pegs. According to Gruhn, the 1927 Gibson F-5 mandolin is rarer than a Stradivarius violin.
 
     "It's not a servant, it's a partner. It makes suggestions you might not have thought of otherwise.
     Bill Monroe, when he got an F-5 mandolin, his entire playing style changed. After he got an
     F-5 he started to do that chopped rhythm that could drive the rhythm of a 5-piece band."
 
Shaw's will was signed a mere two weeks before his death, bequeathing the $9.5 million collection to Belmont University. President Bob Fisher says he had to think twice about offering a home to the collection on campus. "My first response was, 500 guitars, what in the world do you do with them? Where do we put them?"
 
But Fisher quickly realized the university was a perfect fit. "We've got some people at Belmont that can play guitars!" he says, describing a guitar culture on campus that includes not just guitar majors, but even students in nursing and business studies.
 
A New Home In The Belmont Library
 
Fisher says he's already received a personal education in what these vintage instruments add to the art of making music. "I always was wondering, what's the difference between my old Silvertone guitar and a Martin anyway," he says. "Well, now I know. It's big."
 
"It's a treasure," says Doug Howard, dean of Belmont's Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. "Our students don't really know yet the treasure that we have in store for them. The students that come here often are really trained, really competitive, but they want to take it to that next level. It's hard in life to think about a situation where you'd have an opportunity to check out and play some of the really finest instruments that have ever been made, and to have that access really a few steps away from your dorm room."
 
The Gallery of Iconic Guitars, or The GIG, is tucked behind the circulation desk inside Bunch Library at Belmont, and is open daily. Admission is free to students, faculty and staff and children under 12, ad $5 to the general public. One hundred instruments are currently on display, with a select few available for playing in the sound-proof gallery. University officials are currently devising a secure method for loaning out the 400 additional instruments.
 
For more information:
Nashville Public Radio  http://nashvillepublicradio.org
Photo, Listen, Article  http://www.bit.ly/2opGUbG
Gruhn Guitars, Inc. www.guitars.com
  2120 8th Ave., South
  Nashville, TN 37204
Belmont University  www.belmont.edu
  1900 Belmont Boulevard
  Nashville, TN 37212
 
Blogger's Note: Special thanks to George Gruhn for his foresight in preserving the magnificent Steven Kern Shaw collection now called The Gallery of Iconic Guitars: The GIG at Belmont.
 
 
 
 
 
 


Thursday, April 20, 2017

 

JAMMIN' IN THE DIXIE CAFE
IN THE OLD COUNTRY STORE
JACKSON, TN
APRIL 20, 2017
 
     GREAT FOOD AND FUN happen every Thursday night at the Old Country Store in Jackson, TN! In the Dixie Café inside the store, there's a buffet of all kinds of meats, fish and vegetables plus desserts and drinks just waiting to be enjoyed. Prices are reasonable. On the little stage there is bluegrass and country music from local musicians, and anyone is welcome to join them in playing and singing some of the old songs we know and love. It's just a barrel of fun for about three hours! If you haven't been, hop on over to I-40 Exit 80A at the Casey Jones Village and get comfortable inside the Dixie Café. You can even go to EPlusTV6 on the Internet to view an early-morning TV show 'live from the Dixie Café on Monday through Friday from 6:00 to 9:00 AM Central Time.
      Here are some candid shots of the scene from Thursday night, April 20, 2017. We had a ball! We hope you'll drop by any Thursday night around 5:30 or 6:00 for a great meal and lots of good music!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Sunday, April 9, 2017

THE FARM HANDS QUARTET  
KICKS UP A LITTLE DUST
AT ROSSVILLE, TN,
UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
APRIL 8, 2017
Rossville TN United Methodist Church built 1923
     THE FARM HANDS QUARTET from over around Nashville and Humphreys County in Middle Tennessee, dropped by the Rossville, TN, United Methodist Church on a perfect Saturday afternoon in April. The beautiful church was built in 1923 on land owned by the J. L. Crawford family after the original building was destroyed by fire. Pastor Roger Joseph welcomed the band and the audience, and we found him to be quite clever and funny! He shared a few stories of his own 'country livin' when he was a youngster. While the Farm Hands Quartet did not start another blaze at the church, their brand of bluegrass and gospel bluegrass is plenty hot! Apparently, church members and other bluegrass fans alike who packed the sanctuary were hungry and ready for some outstanding harmony singing and pickin' like nothin' you ever saw or heard! Toes were a-tappin' and hands were a-clappin'.
Sign to advertise the Farm Hands
The Farm Hands Bus/Van
     In the relatively brief time (2010) that the current band has been together, they have wasted no time in refining their sound and distinguishing themselves with the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA, or as fans pronounce it: spig' ma). The Farm Hands are the SPBGMA 2016 winners of Bluegrass Vocal Group of the Year and Bluegrass Gospel Group of the Year.
 
L to R: Tim, Don, Daryl, Keith
L to R: Tim, Don, Keith, Daryl
      TIM GRAVES handles Dobro(r) responsibilities in the expert fashion that sorta comes with DNA. His uncle was bluegrass hall-of-fame member, Josh Graves. Uncle Josh, as he was known, introduced Dobro(r) to the world of bluegrass. Tim has performed with Bobby and Sonny, the Osborne Brothers, and his own previous band was Tim Graves and Cherokee. Tim holds 11 awards for SPBGMA Dobro(r) player of the year. He performed on the Grand Ole Opry for 20 years. He sings, too!
     DARYL MOSLEY sings and plays bass. He performed at the Grand Ole Opry for 10 years, and he is a four-time nominee for SPBGMA Male Vocalist of the year. Daryl was named SPBGMA Songwriter of the Year in 2016.
     KEITH TEW is the guitarist, vocalist, and smiling-est fellow in the band. He has had his own band, High Strung, and he has performed with Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, Vassar Clements, and Rock County. Grammy-nominated for his songwriting, Keith is a past winner of the SPBGMA Song of the Year award.
     DON HILL is the 'new kid' in the band. His banjo is lightning-hot, and he has the distinction of being state champion banjo player in Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee. He has performed with Bobby Osborne and also Jesse McReynolds. Don is the tall, quiet fellow in the band. He, too, handles vocal harmony in the Farm Hands.
     Here is the program of exciting bluegrass and bluegrass gospel music that we heard on that lovely April Saturday afternoon:
     Anywhere Is Home; Crying for Crumbs; There's Just the Four of Us; The Way I Was Raised; The Great Speckled Bird (Tim Graves instrumental); The World Would Never Know, But I Would; Nashville Skyline Rag (Don Hill instrumental); The Bible in the Drawer: Mama Prayed and Daddy Plowed; Dig in the Dirt; Colors; Ask the Blind Man--He Saw It All; and the encore with audience participation was I Saw the Light. Great music with an even greater message!
 
Farm Hands Quartet
L to R: Tim Graves, Don Hill, Keith Tew, Daryl Mosley
     You can catch the Farm Hands Quartet again on MondaySeptember 25, 2017, at the Collins Theatre, 120 W. Emerson St., Paragould, AR, at "Bluegrass Monday" sponsored by KASU 91.1 FM on the campus of Arkansas State University, Jonesboro. The concert will be replayed on KASU 91.9 FM on the following Sunday, October 1. Listen online at about 12:30 PM CT to "Down Home Harmonies" with DJ Marty Scarbrough, Program Director at KASU.
 
For more information;
The Farm Hands Quartet  www.farmhandsquartet.com
Rossville United Methodist Church  www.rumconline.com  
KASU 91.9 FM  www.kasu.org  
 



Monday, April 3, 2017

The Morton Museum
of Collierville TN History
Takes Us Back to the
"Good Ol' Days"
March 25, 2017
Mural depicting Collierville TN in earlier times
 "Remember those Good Ol' Days when a bottle of Coke(r) was only a nickel..?" (lyrics credit to Steve Gregory, Tennessee Gentlemen Bluegrass Band), and they were indeed some 'good ol' days'. The Morton Museum of Collierville TN History (formerly known as "The White Church") at the corner of Poplar Avenue and North Main Street in Collierville has a wonderful collection of items on display that were made and/or distributed in the town. Remember the Wonder Horse(r)? Made in Collierville in a Quonset hut just off the Historic Town Square. There are many other items, plus artifacts from the Battle of Collierville during the War Between the States or, as some hard-liners would say, the War of Northern Aggression. Today's version of that sad event is known simply as the Civil War.

Quonset Hut on South Main before
refurbishing in 2015-16
Wonder Horse(r) made in Collierville, TN
"Giddy-Up, Horsie!"
On March 25, 2017, the museum held a sort of open house in which artisans wore authentic costumes and displayed samples of quilting, weaving, candle-making, and other crafts which were popular during the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Of course, there was music from back in the day, and local musicians displayed and explained the instruments they used while performing.
     Originally scheduled for location at the Log Cabin on the Town Square, the event was moved indoors to the Museum when unpredictable spring weather threatened to dampen the quilts and the spirits. Like the troupers they are, artisans and musicians moved indoors and the spectators and fans followed. The lovely stained-glass windows and the feel of the hundred-plus year-old church made for a perfect background to the pages out of the history books. It was splendid!
     We shall simply show you some photos of the event. We shall also encourage you to visit the Morton Museum of Collierville History at your first opportunity. It's worth the trip!
     Special thanks to all who volunteered their time and expertise to entertain and inform the visitors!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Thursday, March 30, 2017

 
CHRIS JONES AND  
THE NIGHT DRIVERS
Bluegrass Monday, Collins Theatre
Paragould, AR
March 27, 2017
 
 
     Chris Jones and the Night Drivers is a name well known and respected in bluegrass music circles. It took them considerable time to get back around to northeastern Arkansas, but the fans at the Collins Theatre welcomed the band with enthusiasm. KASU FM 91.9 (on the campus of Arkansas State University, Jonesboro) and its Program Director, Marty Scarbrough, proudly presented the band to Bluegrass Monday (4th Monday of each month) on March 27. All the members of the band have played with some industry heavy-weights, and pooling their collective talents made for a smooth transition.
L to R: Mark Stoffel, Chris Jones, Jon Weisberger, Gina Clowes

     Chris Jones (guitar, vocals) has been at this game for over 30 years and he has produced 12 CDs. Made to Move was recently released and it already has a number one hit--"I'm a Wanderer". Chris' songs have been recorded by the likes of the Gibson Brothers, the Infamous Stringdusters, and the Chapmans. In 2007, he won the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) award for Song of the Year. In addition to writing and recording, Chris is one of the hosts of Sirius XM's Bluegrass Junction, and he has twice captured honors for IBMA Broadcaster of the Year. Furthermore, Chris writes a column for the "Bluegrass Today" website. Busy fellow, that Chris Jones!
     Jon Weisberger (bass, vocals) has served as the bass player (three-time IBMA winner) for the band for a number of years. As with Chris Jones, Jon writes songs and hosts programs on Sirius XM's Bluegrass Junction. You may often catch Jon on bass at Nashville, Tennessee's Station Inn and with the Roland White Band.
     Mark Stoffel (mandolin, vocals) handles the mandolin and vocals like the pro that he is. Originally from Germany, Mark has recently become an American citizen. Welcome to America, Mark! Formerly with the band Shady Mix, he performed at Bluegrass Monday on two occasions with that band. He has been a Night Driver for ten years.
     Gina Clowes (banjo, vocals) is the newest member of the band. Her banjo work is smooth and spot-on! In earlier times, Gina could often be seen as a finalist at the banjo competition at the Galax (VA) Old Fiddler's Convention. Prior to coming aboard with the Night Drivers, Gina was a member of the band Bud's Collective and is on three CDs from that group.
     We like to tell you what songs each band does at these concerts; however, several songs received no introduction as to the titles. Because the microphones on the vocals were rather "muddy-sounding," we could not decipher some words and weren't able to guess at the titles. We shall take a chance at some titles on the Night Drivers' program:
     The Old Bell (written by Jon Weisberger), I Guess I Missed It, Life Song (Last Song? Instrumental by Gina Clowes), You Always Come Back to Hurting Me (made popular by Johnny Rodriguez), Sleeping Through the Storm (Gospel), Edelweiss (Instrumental interpretation by German-American Mark Stoffel), Gone, I'm a Wanderer (written by Thomm Jutz, Charlie Stefl, and Jon Weisberger), Laurie (written by Chris Jones and Jon Weisberger), You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone, One Night in Paducah, Cowboys Ain't Supposed to Cry (made popular by Moe Bandy), What the Heck (Instrumental by Mark Stoffel), Raindrops Fell (written by Chris Jones), Once You're Gone (written by Jeremy Garrett and Jon Weisberger), Dark Hollow, Deep River ("I'm divin' in but I'm not comin' up"), Pinto the Wonder Horse Is Dead, and Wolf Creek Pass.
     We had hoped for a bit more "punch" or "drive," which seemed to be lacking. It could have been the trouble with the sound. The band's instrumental work was superior, and we wish we could have understood the titles and words to several of their songs. All in all, we enjoyed the band and their performance.
     The performance will be repeated on KASU FM 91.9 on the Internet (www.kasu.org) on Sunday, April 2, at around 12:30 PM CDT during the bluegrass program called Down Home Harmonies, hosted by DJ Marty Scarbrough. Be sure to listen!
 
 
Additional Information:
Chris Jones and the Night Drivers  www.chrisjonesandthenightdrivers.com or www.chrisjonesgrass.com
KASU FM 91.9  www.kasu.org