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Monday, July 25, 2011

NEVAH's Hot Time in Eddington

Hot, Hot, Hot! The word of the day and night, Friday July 22nd in Eddington at the Comins Hall. As you know we performed for the Eddington Bicentennial on probably one of the hottest, most humid days of the entire summer. Did I say it was HOT!

Comins Hall July 22nd, the Night of NEVAH

Jay and I arrived around 2 pm to begin the set-up. We made two trips up the long flight of stairs from ground level to the stage area on the second floor, then we took a water break. I drank one entire bottle of water. Two more trips later, another bottle. By the time all the equipment was inside and the main speakers were lifted onto their stands I'd put away at least three bottles of water. I was drenched with sweat. Jay brought along a hikers water pack, filled with ice cold water, and continuously drank from it, refilling at least two times with fresh water and ice. Luckily I brought along a portable soft sided cooler with four bags of ice and eight to ten bottles of water.

Jay after loading in Nevah's Sound and stage equipment

Shortly after the equipment was in and being organized on-stage Jack showed up. Within a few minutes, after moving his gear upstairs, Jack had to take a cooling off break by one of the window fans.

Jack takes a FAN break

A few minutes later Richard (with a case of water), Larry and Ed showed up followed by Phil. We finished setting up, running power and sound cables, then did a final sound check, distributed more water to everyone and took a break. Eric, got to the stage with time to spare and tuned his congas as a few of us went downstairs to the air conditioned barbecued chicken dinner seating. Hmmmmm good food, service with a smile, cool lemonade and peanut butter/custard pie, and the only comfortable spot in the entire hall.

After dinner we went back upstairs, re-tuned our overheated instruments, drank more water, and at the appointed time began our NEVAH concert.

Approximately one hundred and twenty minutes and two more bottles of water later we sang our final tune and took our bows.

What an evening, did I mention it was hot?

The Nevah Banjo Guy

Friday, July 22, 2011

Evergreen, Friends of Nevah Band

Here is the performance dates of Evergreen, good friends of the Nevah Band

 Evergreen Shows - July 30 Newport Cultural Center & Aug 6 Home on the Grange

Saturday, July 30, 7:00 pm
Newport Cultural Center
154 Main St, Newport, ME (map)
Tickets $10
Info - Leigh Hallett - (207) 368-5074

Saturday, August 6, 7:00 pm
"Home on the Grange"
2766 Lee Rd, Lee, ME (map)
Tickets $15
Info - Thom or Jane - (207) 738-4696

Saturday, August 13, 2-5 pm
Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Show
Harbor Park, Rockland, ME (map)
Info - (800) 565-4951

Saturday, September 10
Harvest Hootenanny
Sponsored by Five Town Communities That Care Also appearing:
Breezemere Bottom Boys,Three Button Deluxe, Katahdin Valley Boys & Roosevelt Dime.
Camden Snow Bowl, Camden, ME (map)
Info - Dalene Dutton - (207) 236-9800

Saturday, September 24
Apple Acres Farm
363 Durgintown Rd, South Hiram, ME (map) Info - (207) 625-4777

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Roots of Nevah band: Winston Churchill

"never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."

 This video is the earliest recording found of a Nevah Band fan. You may have thought Winston Churchill was talking about some other national event, but he was introducing the Maine band Nevah to the world.

Winston put it eloquently when describing Nevah's attitude "nevah give in" on a crowd no matter the size, "nevah give in"on a lick no matter the difficulty, and "nevah give in" on a song no matter the style.

The members of Neva spent endless hours living up to this quote. When you hear and see them perform you will see their tireless work was all worth it. Being motivated by Winston Churchill's speech, the band has used their skills to put a show on that would bring Churchill to his feet.

Nevah Performing at Eddington's Bicentennial

There is a wonderful article in the 
July 18, 2011 Bangor Daily News entitled:

Hope to see you there 
as we kick off the weekend festivities with a 
at the Comins Hall
Friday night
July 22nd at 7pm

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Garage Bands in Maine

Hey folks, Jay, NEVAH's sound guy/techie/roadie. I'm very excited to be working with NEVAH, learning how to best present their "live" progressive NewGrass sound to the public. It brings back fond memories from my youth.

Personally, I have played music on the Maine scene for over thirty years, and performed in most every bar and festival through out the state. Back then, it seems like just a few years ago, my band would be performing behind the old wire cage which prevented beer bottles from hitting the equipment. Performers were never the consideration, performers heal, however, equipment does not and costs real money to repair, aspirin doesn't work on amps. There were moments I recall playing next to the occasional tractor pull with the diesel fumes so thick you couldn't breath and the sound-man having all he could do to get the volume up over the roar of the engines. But, in my mind, not one of the Maine venues matched the ever popular Maine Garage Band performances I did.

Most musicians start their careers in their parents’ home rehearsing and performing in the basement or garage. In Maine I spent my formative years playing for the cows, goats, and pigs in the barns around the country side. Before each performance my friends and I often had to herd the animals out and shovel the stalls so the odor would not be to offensive for all our fans (family, relatives and friends) that were sure to come. And being Maine, when the temperature dropped, it added another dimension to the show. Barns usually have high ceilings and all the heat would rise to the roof. One show, I remember, had all the fans crammed inside a small room within the barn. This room had a seven foot ceiling and a wood stove. We set up in the open area outside the doorway, making sure the amps and the PA were directed into the tiny space. As the temperature dropped and the wood stove got cooking it made for a very loud, and dare I say, HOT show our friends and family are still buzzing about 30 years later.

I have come a long way from the old barn days, and now through my association with NEVAH there is one memory that has returned to me, it's the smiles on the faces of the NEVAH band as they rock the crowd. Whether NEVAH plays in a bar or a showcase you will always see the joy that comes from making music on their faces.

I really wish they'd played the "barns" with me all those long years ago.

Nevah Smiling and Singing

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pickin' For the Vets

A big howdy to all of you out there in the blogosphere.  Today's the day the Nevah Band gets to perform for the Veterans down at the Vet's Home in Bangor.  For the band this is the 10th anniversary (correct me if I'm wrong guys) of the Vet's gig, and we're awfully proud to do it.  It is our little way of saying thank you to the men and women who served our country.  And even better, most of 'em seem to enjoy it.  There is also a nice staff at the facility of caring individuals - we always have a great time playing there.

Nevah to Play at Bangor Maine's Veterans Home

What will we start off with?  Well I don't control that, I just play when I'm told to, but I have a suspicion it will be that number originally performed by the Fab Four (no not the judges on American Idol!) that has been transmogrified and nevah-ized by us, which we incorrectly (or maybe I should say correctly!) call "I've Jest Seen Her Face".  What will the boys be wearing?  Matching pant suits like those worn by the Partridge Family?  Or perhaps the more flowery and funky outfits similar to those worn by the Jackson 5 (I have heard rumor that Hal has a pair of platform shoes from the days when he used to hang with John Travolta at Studio 55). To get the real scoop and find out how the gig went, stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Veterans benefit show photos

The Nevah Band Performs at a Veterans Benefit

For the last eight years, the Men of Nevah, Maine's progressive NewGrass band have faithfully performed for the veterans at Bangor's Veterans Home. It's just a simple way to show our appreciation to those who have served our country to protect our freedoms of life, liberty and happiness.

Pictured below are shots taken from the show - July 14, 2011:

Edward Russell

Richard Silver

Phil Pitula

Eric Brown
Lawrence LeBlanc
Jack Anderson
Hal Meyers and Richard Silver

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nevah Brings Their Progressive NewGrass to the Pelletier Loggers Restaurant

Hey, to all our fans, this Saturday - July 16, 2011, we NEVAH, the Maine based progressive NewGrass band, will be performing at the Pelletier Loggers Family Restaurant in Millinocket. It's going to be a lot of fun, several hours of terrific music (we've been practicing - a lot), a great atmosphere, tasty cuisine and cold beer. So, if you feel like heading up north, a bit, we'd certainly be happy to see you there, maybe you'll even hit the dance floor during a couple of slow tunes.

Hire-Nevah-a- Progressive-Bluegrass-Maine-Band
NEVAH - Progressive NewGrass with a Twist of Time

All the pertinent restaurant information is below.

I know I'm going, wait a minute, I have to go, I'm in the band.

Take care,

The Nevah Banjo Guy

p.s. Pertinent Restaurant Information
PHONE: 207-723-6100
57 Penobscot Ave, Millinocket, ME 04462

July 16, 2011 / Show 8:30 pm to 12:30
call 723-6100 or
email: / facebook: NEVAH

Monday, July 11, 2011

What is this I hear about progressive newgrass?

Ya know, some people have started calling our music progressive newgrass.  I'm not quite sure what that means do you?  Let's see if we can figure this out.  "Progressive" used to be applied to a political movement that had it's heyday in the late 1800's to the 1920's.  Now we at the corporate offices of Nevah prefer to keep our political opinions to ourselves (mostly) - do we lean right or left?  Hard to say - I think it's all about the balance.  And I don't really think it affects the music we play all that much.  Although I hear that there is a song being forged at the Nevahsongs mill as we speak that addresses the rightness and/or leftness of certain band members.  But if you take progressive to mean forward looking, well....a lot of our tunes are from our childhoods - the music we grew up with.  That's more looking backwards.  BUT, we don't try to copy those tunes note for note, we try and make them our own.  I'm not sure whether this is forward or backwards.  BUT if one considers that the essence of Nevah lies in the double negative - then maybe looking backwards is actually forward looking!

OK, now if I still have you let's examine the second word "newgrass".  That's a term that's been bandied about in the bluegrass world for a number of years - at its most generic it meant long hairs playing bluegrass during the 60's.  A lot of those long hair types really were playing traditional bluegrass - honoring the (shorter-haired) masters of the genre.  The long hair was the revolutionary act even though the music was really not that much different.  Now Newgrass Revival came along sometime in the late 60's - all fairly young guys caught up in the youth movement of the day.  The music of the youth movement was primarily rock by the late 60's, and the newgrass revival band (which included the now elder statesman Sam Bush) I think provided a beautiful synthesis of rock and bluegrass.  They played great bluegrass, but had a rock attitude and extended the soloing beyond the 8 bar format.  Really no one did the newgrass better than those guys, although there were other bands that sprung up doing similar kinds of things.  One of the beautiful things about bluegrass music was and is a respect for tradition.  So even while everyone was "doing their own thing" and "tuning in and dropping out" they still admired their elders.  So while there maybe was some bad feelings (like the Newgrass Revival Band not being allowed to play at Bill Monroe's Bean Blossom Festival unless they cut their hair - which of course they didn't do!, or Roy Acuff's extreme reluctance to play on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Circle" record), eventually everyone mellowed out, had a beer, and kept on pickin'.  So that's newgrass - kind of a rock and bluegrass mix that really didn't go much beyond what the Newgrass Revival Band did.  There were other movements in bluegrass like the "new acoustic music" movement in the 70's which took the stringband format into  other musical genres (primarily) jazz to which the term "progressive" could be applied.  Now I don't know if any records came out like "Pickin' on 'Trane" or "Pickin on Eric Dolphy" but some of those cats got pretty out there (including our Newgrass Revival friends who continued to grow and expand their musical tastes). 

Hire-Nevah-a- Progressive-Bluegrass-Maine-Band
Ed Russel on Flute - Nevah Band
Hire-Nevah-a- Progressive-Bluegrass-Maine-Band
Eric Brown on Percussion - Nevah Band

But that's not us.  We're back with the music we love to play (much of it derived from what we heard growing up), which is diverse but more or less based out of the stringband format.  We got a banjo (boy do we ever!) played by Hal, mandolin (played with style and grace by R. Silver esquire), and acoustic guitar played by (who's that guy again?).  We got a rockin' bass played by Herr Phil  - so there is the kernel of the newgrass.  We got  sax and flute (Ed) and congas (Eric) which usually reside in the jazz idiom, and even tho' we are not really a jazz band, we've been known to swing a little.  And there is that minor key gypsy thing that keeps seeping in.  Bringing us back down home is Jack's soulful pedal steel and dobro playing.  So progressive in that we look forward by looking backwards and are not afraid to look jazz in the eye while playing acoustic-based stringband music with an electric pedal steel and bass guitar, flute and sax and congas.  Progressive Newgrass?  Why not?  What would you call it?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

NewGrass, Nevah Sounded So Good!

The latest craze in bluegrass sound is progressive NEWGRASS. As you know the NewGrass nomenclature has been around for well over forty years, however, over time it's evolved. And, if you are interested in hearing this progressive NewGrass sound, simply check out one of Nevah Bands shows around New England. Nevah is a showcase band having performed in the style of NewGrass for over ten years. The music is a mix of traditional bluegrass with country roots and a blues edge. The Nevah performance also puts in some interesting 1960's and 70's tunes along with some great originals that keep the crowd on their feet.

Newgrass with Nevah Band

Nevah Band on NewGrass

The Nevah bands unique progressive NewGrass sound comes from its blending of instruments, starting with the rhythm section consisting of a snare drum and congas. Then add the flute and pedal steel for some melody, with the bass and tenor sax rocking the bottom end. Of course we can't forget the rock and roll mandolin, hot banjo, and the acoustic guitar which round out Nevahs NewGrass sound.

If you ever are traveling through New England in search of that NewGrass sound, look for Nevah, they are based out of Bangor, Maine. You will be in for some great fun and music.

Who you calling NewGrass

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Progressive bluegrass

One of the newest Maine Bluegrass Newgrass bands, Nevah, has been rocking a few festivals and clubs of Maine with a new progressive bluegrass sound. Their up-beat interpretations of the standards and originals are defined as progressive bluegrass and are entertaining folks wherever they play.

Nevah a Maine Bluegrass / Progressive Newgrass Band at work
Nevah's Progressive bluegrass is defined by their unique instrumentation. They have the traditional banjo, mandolin and guitar, but their use of electric bass, pedal steel, flute, penny whistle and sax brings their sound into the progressive realm.

They have been well received at several bluegrass festivals because of their harmonic and diversified skill and their thirst for fun on-stage. As they start with a standard foggy mountain breakdown lick leading into a 5 part harmony vocal of the Beatles, "I've just seen her face," fans jump up and start singing and dancing almost from the first note. However, it's their vocals that are truly part of what makes them a progressive bluegrass band.

By the second song you know this ain't your daddy's bluegrass.

Thursday NEVAH Happens Fast Enough for Me!

My Favorite day of the week is Thursday. Why? Thursday is NEVAH band practice day. Now, Wednesday used to be my favorite day of the week, but then we moved band practice from Wednesday to Thursday so you can see why I dumped Wednesday for another day.

So, the question that must be running through your mind is, "how can a Thursday practice be sooooo much fun?" Well, thank you for asking, allow me to tell you.

1) This group of NEVAH Men are first and foremost terrific people. That alone makes it a pleasure to get together. Not saying we all stand around singing kum-baya, we don't, we all are respectful and courteous and, okay so occasionally kum-baya is sung, but we chose a difficult key and no one is allowed to use a capo, especially the flute.

2) We all appreciate the skills each member brings to the table and it seems that each person has the ability to listen and creatively assist with each and every song we chose to perform. Whether it be an original tune, which I am excited to say that originals are starting to appear on a regular basis and are being added to our repertoire, or something from our past, many times an obscure, yet amazing song folks haven't heard for a while. The funny part is, we all know the songs, in several keys.

Nevah - a Maine Band

3) We have a tremendous amount of "music and performance" experience between all the guys and it comes out during these rehearsals. And it's embraced, discussed, dissected then reassembled to fit the NEVAH style.

4) Everyone participates, volunteers to undertake various aspects of the NEVAH growing process, whether it be acting as a liaison to the Bangor Daily News or touching base with an event organizer such as our Champion for the Cure Challenge, or talking to the folks at the Pelletier Loggers Family Restaurant for our show on the 16th of July or coordinating load in and set-up times for our gig at the Eddington Bicentennial in Comins hall on Friday July 22nd.

Eddington Bicentennial Poster

5) We seem to get a little better each time we play. It might only be a minute improvement or slight change in one "number" but it makes al the difference to me. And it makes the NEVAH experience rewarding.

6) We drink! And I must add that it's not just beer, all though beer does appear at just about each practice session, especially large bottles from the Penobscot Bay Brewery located in Winterport, sometimes its a lovely Chardonnay,  or a Margarita or G&T or dirty Martini (my favorite made with Maine's own Twenty2 Vodka). Every week the beverage menu changes, and is always a welcome surprise.

Penobscot Bay Brewery Beer

Twenty2 Vodka
Made in Maine

Hopefully I've made my point. Oh, and I just remembered one other thing, we have family members and other folks drop by on occasion to sit and listen.

I love Thursdays!

Hal Meyers
(the Nevah Banjo Guy)

Smilling with Edward Russell of Nevah Band

As we, the Nevah men, continue to grow as a musical force it is apparent that something special is going on. Each performance brings new challenges in volume and technique and the players all step up to the performance needs. It has become apparent that one element is standing out, Nevahs' ability to laugh, which is brought out on stage and in rehearsals by all members, though it usual starts with Edward Russell, an extraordinary man who plays flute, sax, penny whistle, and other assorted whistles and percussion instruments. He is also one of the songwriters and singers in the band.

Ed makes us smile
Eds humor makes the music flow through the night with his unexpected lyrical changes, his facial expressions and witty comments that keep the audience laughing and wondering. Edward Russell is one of the keys that makes Nevah, a Maine band, a magical experience.

 Ed gaining inspiration


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer in Maine

      Living in the great state of Maine one realizes that the summer weeks, that's right weeks maybe even days, are to cherished. It this short season I always try to cram as much summer fun as possible . If the sun is out and temps are over 70 degrees that is lake time, swimming, boating. sun bathing, sailing, fishing, and anything around the water. the early evening is time for Mountain biking the trails at the University of Maine or in the world renowned mountain biking Mecca known as "the Bog".
       Then after you have pushed your body to the its limits it is time to take in the festivals of Maine they are in evry couner of the state. From small towns in Aroostook County to the largest cities of Portland and Bangor. Many are a chance for some of the great bluegrass players of Maine to gather and play well into the night. One of the top showcase acts is The Nevah Band playing there unique bluegrass with energy and skill .
      The people at these festivals often are from all over New England, ready to enjoy the Maine air and the music that keeps your feet moving well into the night.
      Another highlight of  the festivals in Maine are the foods: Lobster, Corn on the cob, blueberry's in all forms, seafood, apples, strawberry's . There is a festival for all foods in Maine. Below is a list of some of the festivals in Maine.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

        In your travels through Maine take the time to catch a festival or two. And watch for the Nevah Band performing in your neck of the woods.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Nevah plays Rocky Top in "D"

Hey everyone! Hal, the Banjo guy here. First of all, Happy 4th o' July, and remember, please don't over-drink and play the banjo, it can be hazardous to your listeners. Or is that drink as much as you like because it will make the banjo sound better, or, have your audience drink as much as possible so they don't care what the banjo sounds like or drink till you can't remember where you put the banjo so you can't play it, then everyone is happy. Can't make up my mind, I think I need another beer. You pick!

The NEVAH Logo

I'm very excited, we, NEVAH, have chosen a key for the classic bluegrass tune "Rocky Top". I love that song but have never been able to tweak my voice to sing it in a high enough register to sound "right". I tried it in just about every key, playing in "G" fingering, capo'd up five frets (key of C) which actually worked, but wasn't quite up to par. After four hours of rehearsal I was able to sing it in "G" but that almost tore my throat out so Phil (Bass player) suggested and we finally decided on the key of "D".

Now for those of you who play the banjo, playing in "D" without the use of a capo is pretty cool, a bit tricky but fun. I've been practicing everyday for the last week and feel pretty comfortable in "D". I'm adding a few licks and some interesting fifth string hammer on's while playing up the neck. I really believe that the most important thing in any tune is to get the chords down 100% first, playing them all over the neck in various configurations. Then, after you've got them down cold, start to add some melody notes based on the chords, pull-offs, hammer's, etc. and eventually throw in an organized lick or two. Sounds easy. And it is, if you play really slow. Tony Trischka hammered that into my head when I lived in New Jersey and was fortunate enough to take some lessons. Hey, Tony has this amazing on-line School of Banjo teaching service. It's like being in the room with him taking a private lesson. You should check it out when you get the time.

Anyway, have a wonderful, safe, FOURTH of JULY!

Banjo Guy from NEVAH
a Maine based band

Sunday, July 3, 2011

NEVAH BAND's Wanted Men Poster

The Men of NEVAH, a Maine band, had photos taken at rehearsal the other day for a "Wanted" type poster. Our official photog - Mia, with tripod in hand, had us line up against the wall and strike that all too familiar pose, you know, the one we've seen in films and television. After carefully selecting each person's "best look" for the poster concept, our fearless art-type guy, Hal (banjo player - of course) arranged the photos on our generic NEVAH poster background, making sure that no one's head was too big or too small and that the bald guy (banjo player - of course) was wearing a hat.

You should know the photos were not just randomly tossed in place, they were strategically situated, take a look …

NEVAH band
Wanted Men Poster

… a close look, real close. That's close enough! Not only are the images in a special order, but the photos link to each other in various mysterious configurations. Sort of like a sudoko puzzle without the numbers, sort of.

Anyway, see if you can figure out why they are placed in this configuration and let us know. We'd like to post your thoughts, and the winner, the person picked by the banjo player - of course, that is the person who comes closest to figuring out the Nevah bands Wanted Men poster arrangement strategy will receive a limited edition signed copy of the poster.

That's all for now …


Maine Bands * Nevah Band One of the Best

    After hearing the Nevah Band one thing that can not be said is "just another Maine band." This group of extraordinary Maine musicians brings a fresh sound to the Maine scene. Each Member brings a long list of credentials, performing from Maine to New Jersey in rock, country, and bluegrass bands. As I sit here writing I can not start to name all the other performers who have benefited from this group of talented musicians.

Not just another Maine Band ..... Nevah Band ..... Bangor Maine 
     Many Maine Bands pride them selves with one lead vocalist and maybe two back-up singers. Not Nevah band, they have 5 lead vocalist and all can also be back-up with 2 others able to hold there own as back-up singers. Nevah Bands vocals can make you cry, sing, dance, and laugh all in the same song. There is not another showcase Band in Maine that can deliver the vocal punch of these musicians.
      Maine has always been a hotbed for soulful rock acts that often sound like other bands from away.  It is always refreshing to here Maine bands that have a unique sound and can perform in a any venue from clubs to the concert stage. Nevah is one of those unique Maine bands that keeps you coming back for more whether you are looking for soulful rock and role or hot newgrass-bluegrass music. Nevah band does it all.
       At one of the recent rehearsals in Winterport Maine, the Maine band Nevah members were reminiscing about where and with whom that they had performed with over the years. In the conversation most of the musicians were now performing solo acts and working in a studio. It is Nevahs love for fun that keeps them performing. Each performers  smile on there face and the crowds makes it apparent that this Maine Band will be performing for next 20 years,