Nothin’ Fancy featured at Blistered Fingers Family Bluegrass Music Festival

Every year around this time, Litchfield Fairgrounds in Litchfield becomes the mecca for fans from all over as the Blistered Fingers Family Bluegrass Music Festival opens for its 45th year. This time around, they will feature Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, The Gibson Brothers and the subject of today’s column: Nothin’ Fancy. This quintet of musicians will perform Thursday and Friday, Aug. 27-28. The festival runs from the Aug. 26-30, and a couple of days ago, I got a call from Mike Andes, the frontman/mandolin player for the band.

Q: Where are you now — out touring or at home resting?

Andes: No, I’m actually in a recording studio here in a small town in Virginia called Willis, near Floyd, Virginia. We just started a recording today.

Q: Is this the the follow-up to “The Test of Time,” your 2014 album?

Andes: It is. We just recently signed with a new label. We’re with Mountain Fever Records now, and this is our first album with (them). We’re in the studio today and I’ve already gotten about five rhythm tracks, so things are moving pretty good.

Q: Will this album have new material on it?

Andes: The majority of the songs on this album are going to be original songs, but we’re also going to do a couple of cover tunes.

Q: Which do you prefer — covers or originals?

Andes: I prefer the original material because it gives your band an original sound. You grow into your own sound, but you still have to do some of those cover tunes to appease the traditionalists. Ultimately, though, the fans out there will tell you what songs they want you to record. You can’t record all of them, but every once in a while, you have to stick one on there.

Q: Your manager, Randy, told me to check out YouTube to see some songs from your live shows. I did and you guys look like you are having so much fun doing what you do.

Andes: Well, in all honesty, we are having that much fun. It’s not scripted, when we get on stage everything that we do is right off the cuff. The music, naturally, we take seriously, but the little ad lib stuff and things that go on in between the songs, that’s all 100 percent real. We don’t plan out our comedy stuff, we don’t plan out some of the things that happens to us on stage, so we are definitely having a great time. Which is pretty unheard of, really. We got this band started in 1994 and in all honesty, we’re having as much fun, if not more fun, today then what we had back then — it’s a great thing.

Q: If you can find something you enjoy doing and can make that your livelihood, there’s nothing better than that.

Andes: Yeah, I agree. It’s been a blessing, we’ve been very fortunate in the business and Randy’s doing a great job keeping us booked up and getting us in front of new faces and new ears — that’s what we need to do.

Q: Have you ever played up in Maine before?

Andes: Yeah, we’ve worked Maine, I guess that’s our next time out: Litchfield and Blistered Fingers. Yeah, we’ve worked Vermont and Maine — we enjoy it up there, we’ve got a great following up in the north country, as we call it, and we always look forward to coming up that way.

Q: Have you done the Blistered Fingers festival before?

Andes: Yes, we have. I’ve done that a couple of times now.

Q: Have you been with the band since the beginning?

Andes: I have, I’m a founding father. There’s only one member that hasn’t been with us since the beginning — the guitar position, that’s the newest addition. The rest of us — Tony Shorter playing bass, Chris Sexton on fiddle, myself on mandolin, and Mitchell Davis on banjo — have been together since 1994. Caleb Cox just came on board with us a little over a month ago and he’s fitting in so well it seems like he’s been with us since 1994, but he couldn’t have because he’s not that old.

Q: Do you have and special desires for Nothin’ Fancy?

Andes: I want us to have good music, I want us to take our music serious, but yet I want people leaving the auditorium saying “Now that was a show!” — that’s the ultimate compliment.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article about your return to the Blistered Fingers festival?

Andes: Well, I would like to humbly urge them to check us out on YouTube, to go to our website — www.nothinfancybluegrass.com — and check out the tour dates. And just keep in touch with us: we have a Facebook page where they can sign on, keep in touch and become a part of the family. And by all means, if at all possible, to come to one of our live shows, because I will guarantee that you’re going to get a show when you come to see Nothin’ Fancy. Again, I just love the fans — once you get around me you’ll see that I’m not bashful, none of the guys in the band is bashful; when we come off-stage you don’t have to stand in line to talk to any of us, we’re right there accessible and we’ll answer questions.

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.