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Posted October 1, 2010
One of the more engaging and dynamic acts on the current contemporary bluegrass scene
Playing Time – 42:56 -- Nothin’ Fancy (from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia) celebrates its first decade together with an album that is particularly an excellent showcase of mandolinist Michael Andes’ songwriting and lead vocal talents. Several members of this group were in a band calling themselves The East Coast Bluegrass Band which formed in 1986 and won the East Coast Bluegrass Band championship in Crimora, VA. Nothin’ Fancy now hosts two annual bluegrass festivals where they always play a crowd favorite novelty number that closes this album, "I Met My Baby In The Porta Jon Line.” Nothin’ Fancy’s first album for Pinecastle Records (“Once Upon A Road”) was released in 2002. Now, their second major label release continues with their successful bluegrass formula. Besides Mike Andes, the band include Mitchell Davis (banjo), Gary Farris (guitar), Chris Sexton (fiddle, viola, cello) , and Tony Shorter (bass). Guests on this project include rhythm guitarists Kenny Smith, Jeff Ellis and Chris Burton. Mike Andes’ mandolin playing shows the influence of John Duffey, Jimmy Gandreau and Doyle Lawson. Mitchell Davis was the primary producer of the band's three self-released albums prior to their signing with Pinecastle. Tenor vocalist Gary Farris started singing in church and in a glee club as a boy, but he didn’t take up the guitar until about age 35. Chris Sexton is the newest member of the group, having joined in 2000. Classically-trained and holding a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Performance, Chris, like Mike and Mitchell, is a former member of the East Coast Bluegrass Band. Tony Shorter took up mandolin as a boy and was a charter member of the Virginia Tech Bluegrass Association. He took up bass during his college days and has experience playing a number of styles of music. Nothin’ Fancy has a smooth contemporary style that appeals to those who aren’t ready for a full-blown high lonesome sound. Their music is well-executed, and increased emphasis on originality is noteworthy. Continued albums like “Reflections” will solidly hold them a place as one of the more engaging and dynamic acts on the current contemporary bluegrass scene. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)
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