Nothin’ Fancy formed as a bluegrass band in 1994 to compete in a bluegrass competition. Since then, they have grown in popularity, released 11 full length albums, and continue to perform at festivals across the United States and in international engagements. Their audiences have gathered at notable venues such as the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN; the Lincoln Center in New York City; and the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. They have been seen at Dollywood, and are a regular fixture at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO where promoter/coordinator D.A. Callaway described Nothin’ Fancy as “the act that America needs to see.” They have successfully hosted their own Nothin’ Fancy Bluegrass Festival every year since 2001 in Buena Vista, VA on the fourth weekend of September. The festival has become a notable event for the Shenandoah Valley bluegrass scene and attracts acclaimed bluegrass bands and bluegrass music lovers from many corners of the U.S., Canada, and even overseas. The band is known for their smooth vocal blends, stirring performances, irrepressible humor, and for traveling the highways in their beloved bright yellow tour bus.
Their two-decade career has earned them a dedicated fan base, six Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA) Entertainers of the Year awards, honorary Mountaineer status by order of former WV Governor Joe Manchin III, and certificates of appreciation from several VA towns, and even had the Buena Vista mayor declare it as “Nothin’ Fancy Day” at one of their festivals. On April 10, 2015, the all-male music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia inducted four members of Nothin’ Fancy into honorary brotherhood through the chapter at James Madison University (the fifth, Chris Sexton, joined Phi Mu Alpha in 1995 at Shenandoah University’s chapter). The band was also inducted as the 2015 members of the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame, an honor given once a year to Virginia’s most notable country and bluegrass musicians on October 10 of that year.
Mike Andes, born and raised in Timberville, VA, began performing publicly at age 14. Mike will tell you his music ability is God-given. He plays by ear and has never had any lessons or professional training. Several family members, including his brothers and uncles, influenced Mike with their musical abilities. In the early 1980s, Mike formed his first band, The East Coast Bluegrass Band and in 1994, was a founding member of Nothin’ Fancy. Mike always wanted a full-time career in music and Nothin’ Fancy has given him the opportunity to fulfill this goal. During his time with Nothin’ Fancy, Mike has been nominated for Mandolin Player of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Individual Entertainer of the Year and Songwriter of the Year through the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA). Mike has become well known as an exceptional MC for the band and keeps the show rolling from song to song with his wit and charm. Mike has always considered Charlie Waller to be his bluegrass hero. He learned his trade by Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen’s example. The Seldom Scene has also been a huge influence on Mike’s music. When Mike is not touring with Nothin’ Fancy, he enjoys building mandolins, fiddles and woodworking in general. He also enjoys the outdoors and gardening with his wife, Becky, at their home in Pataskala, OH. Together, Mike and Becky have three sons, three daughter-in-laws, one daughter, one son-in-law, and four beautiful grandchildren.
Multi-instrumentalist Chris Sexton is usually seen with a fiddle, and sometimes contributes to the vocals. He debuted with the band in 1998 at the Maury River Fiddler's Convention, where the band won first prize in the bluegrass band competition – he still has the ribbon. He appeared as a guest on the band's second and third self-released albums and joined the band in the summer of 2000. His dad, “Buster” Sexton who played banjo in several bands in the 70’s and early 80’s, introduced Chris to bluegrass. Although his first instrument was a mandolin, Chris soon focused his energies on the violin. Throughout middle and high school, he grew as a violinist in symphony orchestras, the All-Virginia Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra Youth Apprenticeship Program, while keeping his bluegrass roots. Chris attended Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA, graduating with a Bachelor of Music in Music Performance. Soon after, he found himself fiddling with the East Coast Bluegrass Band with his father, and Nothin' Fancy shortly thereafter. He also has appeared in the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, the Roanoke Symphony, and served as the assistant principal violist with the Loudoun Symphony, and also served for five years as a co-director of the American Children of SCORE based in Warrenton, VA. His violin work could also be heard on several TV specials in the early 2000s that were featured on the Discovery Channel, the Learning Channel, PBS, and the National Geographic Channel. In 2008, Chris returned to Shenandoah University for a master’s degree in violin pedagogy (the methods of teaching violin in private lesson settings) and graduated with the MM in 2010 – all while maintaining a busy touring and teaching schedule. When Chris isn't playing bluegrass, he’s teaching violin, viola, cello, piano, and bluegrass fiddle in his own studio in old-town Manassas, VA. He also routinely does work for DC-area recording studios as a session musician, and he is also an adjunct professor of violin, viola, and cello at the Woodbridge Campus of the Northern Virginia Community College. In the fall of 2005, Chris released his first solo disc on Pinecastle Records, Coffee at Midnight and he released a second, all-classical solo album entitled Proof in 2013. His hobbies include cooking, composing music, and traveling.
Jacob is a student at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN. He is majoring in Appalachian studies with a concentration in bluegrass, and is among a new generation of bluegrass musicians who are pursuing the study of the music in institutes of higher learning. When not at ETSU, he hangs his hat in Singers Glen, VA. Jacob has been a fan of Nothin’ Fancy for years, and considered playing with Nothin’ Fancy “a dream job” ever since. The crew of Nothin’ Fancy are happy to make that dream a reality!
He is an avid fisherman, collects vinyl records, spends time with friends and family, and of course spends a lot of quality time with his banjo.
James is Nothin’ Fancy’s newest addition on bass. He has been winning crowds over with his confidently solid playing, which belies his youth in relation to his bandmantes. Veteran banjo player Keith Arneson from the US Navy Bluegrass Band describes James’ timing on the bass as being “like a clock,” and his quiet stage demeanor is a sweet contrast to the irresistible to-tapping boom of the bass in his hands. Being raised in a musical family and playing bass originally with his family’s band Clearwater Branch, he started playing bass as his first instrument on a Fender Junior Precision electric bass when he got it as a Christmas gift in 2007, and he never looked back! He is comfortable on both electric and acoustic bass, playing in a three-piece rock band with his brothers Nathan and John, and he gets to show off his acoustic bass skills on stage with Nothin’ Fancy. He is a certified technician who tests water pumps on fire trucks, takes his coffee black, and likes a good cookie now and then.
Jacobe Lauzon of Colborne, Ontario, played his first performances with the band in Witts Springs, AR and at the Opera House in Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO to rave reviews. This announcement marks the moment that Nothin’ Fancy is now officially an international band! Jacobe, also known as Jake, was born in Markham, Ontario and grew up in Orono, Ontario. He began his musical journey at seven years of age, after showing a persistent interest in playing his father’s guitars. Years later, Jake emerged as an accomplished young musician and singer, and played regular gigs across the Durham Region for almost a decade. Always a bluegrasser at heart, Jake truly excels both as a rhythm and flat-picking guitarist. Most notably, Jake won the Bluegrass Guitar Player of the Year (Central Canadian Bluegrass Awards) for 2018 and 2019.