Twelve years ago, nobody who’s now in the band Nevah knew that they all lived within a few miles of one another, and that very soon they’d all be playing sweet, harmonious bluegrass-tinged country rock together. Winterport may be a neat little town, but how is anyone supposed to know that your neighbor happens to be an amazing mandolin player?
Fortunately, bassist Phil Pitula, vocalist and flutist Ed Russell, mandolin man Richard Silver, pedal steel and Dobro player Jack Anderson and drummer Eric Brown came to realize that, hey, they all play music, and hey, wouldn’t it be fun to jam together? They recruited Eddington banjo player Hal Meyers and Old Town guitarist Larry LeBlanc soon after, and Nevah — formerly known as Never2Late — was born.
Kitchens, living rooms, Grange halls and the occasional bluegrass festival have hosted the group for more than a decade now. The band will play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 19, at the Next Generation Theater on Center Street in Brewer; admission is $8. More than anything, though, Nevah is a chance for a group of lifelong musicians to do the thing they love the most: play.
“It’s kind of a genetic disposition for us,” said Pitula, who by day is the town manager of Winterport, and formerly was in the local band Sista Sadie. “We don’t take it too seriously, but we look forward to playing together every week. Between all of us, we know hundreds of songs. We’ve been doing it for decades. It’s so much fun.”
Like Pitula, the bandmates are all successful professionals in their 50s and 60s. Silver and Russell have a law practice in Bangor. Anderson is a retired lawyer, and former member of legendary New York band and countercultural icons the Fugs. Meyers is a graphic artist, LeBlanc is a researcher at the University of Maine, and Brown is a doctor. They’re all busy people. But they’ll always make time for music.
What strikes you first, when listening to the band, are the absolutely gorgeous harmonies all seven musicians contribute. Three-, four-, even five-part harmony is present in nearly every song they play.
Then you hear the loose, playful way they have of collaborating. The sweet melding of LeBlanc’s guitar, Silver’s mandolin and Meyers’ banjo is the core of their sound, with Anderson’s masterful Dobro and pedal steel adding warmth and Pitula’s and Brown’s rhythm section forming the foundation. Russell’s lead vocals and occasional flute playing, as well as his killer kazoo solos, add humor and charm.
The band has a handful of original songs, but also plays delightful covers. They list everything from the Beatles, Paul Simon and the Beach Boys to Brooks & Dunn and Lyle Lovett as influences. Though they may say it’s just a fun side project, it’s clear that the one thing they do take seriously is the pure enjoyment they get out of playing.
“You could have much worse habits than playing music,” said Russell. “We’re all around the same age and we’ve all got the same mindset. We have to have fun playing. We’re too old not to.”
For more information and for tickets to Saturday night’s show, call 989-7100.
Emily Burnham may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at rockblogsterbdn.