‘Bluegrass Monday’ features Monroe Crossing

Monroe Crossing

Monroe Crossing is David Robinson, Matt Thompson, Derek Johnson, Lisa Fugile and Mark Anderson. (photo by Jamey Guy)

PARAGOULD, Ark. — Monroe Crossing will perform Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Collins Theater as part of KASU 91.9 FM’s Bluegrass Monday concert series.

Named in honor of the creator of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe, the band Monroe Crossing plays traditional bluegrass music, gospel songs, original melodies, and their own unique arrangements of songs that originated in a style of music other than bluegrass. Formed in 2000, the band performs over 150 concerts each year at bluegrass festivals, churches and venues across the country. Monroe Crossing has recorded 16 CDs and has produced a concert DVD.

Based in Minnesota, Monroe Crossing is the only bluegrass band ever to be named “Artist of the Year” (2004) by the Minnesota Music Academy. The group has also been inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame and has received numerous awards from the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association.  In both 2007 and in 2014, the band received the prestigious invitation to appear at the official showcase concert at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual convention.

A founding member of Monroe Crossing, Lisa Fugile plays fiddle, guitar and mandolin, and serves as a featured lead vocalist for the group. Raised in Nigeria, Africa, she first discovered bluegrass music through a 78 RPM record of music by Bill Monroe. Fugile has also performed with the groups The Hers, The Outskirts, and The Deadly Nightshade Family Singers. In addition, she received a Folk Arts Apprenticeship Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to study fiddle with Bill Hinkley, an acclaimed musician from Minnesota.

Another founding member of the group, Matt Thompson of Mankato, Minnesota, plays mandolin and fiddle, and serves as emcee for the band during their concerts. He is a past winner of the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association’ s “Mandolin Player of the Year.” Thompson has played bluegrass music in many bands over the past 30 years, including True Blue, a group which appeared on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” nationally-syndicated public radio program.

Founding member Mark Anderson plays bass in the group. Starting in alternative rock bands, his musical tastes changed dramatically after being introduced to bluegrass music in 1995. Anderson is known for the energy and humor he brings to Monroe Crossing’s live performances. He has written original songs for the band which appear on their CDs.

Derek Johnson sings and plays guitar. Similar to Anderson, his first musical experiences were in rock-and-roll bands, but he also discovered a love for bluegrass music. Prior to joining Monroe Crossing in 2011, Johnson co-founded the High 48s Bluegrass Band, a group which released four CDs, toured nationwide, and won the prestigious Rocky Grass Bluegrass Band Competition in 2008.

David Robinson plays banjo for the band.  He became interested in folk and blues music at a young age, but exposure to a local bluegrass band led him to begin playing banjo at age 14. He joined Monroe Crossing at age 18 in 2012. His banjo playing is influenced by David Holt and Earl Scruggs, and he has also taught himself how to play guitar, mandolin and harmonica. When not on the road with Monroe Crossing, Robinson performs with other musicians in a variety of styles in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and beyond.

The Venue

Collins Theatre seating is first-come, first-served at 120 W. Emerson St. in downtown Paragould.  Doors open at 6 p.m. for the 7 p.m. concert.  KASU will literally “pass the hat” to collect money to pay the group with suggested donations of $5 per person.

In addition to the concert, Terry’s Café opens on Bluegrass Mondays to welcome bluegrass music fans. The café at 201 S. Pruett St. in Paragould serves a country-style 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 Center, 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 University in Jonesboro. 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“).