The popular local musical ensemble, Mebanesville, releases its first full length CD, “Mebanesville, Town & Country,” this Friday evening, July 5 at the Trackside Bottle Shop at 103 East Center Street in downtown Mebane. The evening’s music begins at 7:00 p.m. with the acoustic-Americana quintet, Jackson Street, which includes three over-lapping members with Mebanesville: Jody McCall, Mike Gasperino, and Larry Vellani. Mebanesville will provide the second set, beginning at 8:30 p.m.
Produced and engineered in Mebane at Currie’s Kitchen Studio by Currie Wayne Clayton, Jr. and Larry Vellani, the album features 13 original Mebanesville arrangements—7 new numbers recorded and mastered in Mebane, and 6 remastered earlier releases: one from Currie Clayton’s former Haw River Studio, four from Elon University Studios, and one from the former Grand Ole Joffre Studio in Hillsborough.
“The album totals twenty-five of the area’s most versatile performing musicians,” Mebanesville co-founder, Larry Vellani shared. “Like a typical Mebanesville performance, the album includes something ancient, something new, something borrowed, something brewed—but all thoroughly Mebanesville In the rendering.” For a complete list of the musicians, as well as the CD’s detailed liner notes, visit https://Mebanesville.com/New-CD.
“It was a real treat to work with Larry and his band of merry, musical pranksters again,“ said Currie Clayton, album co-producer, as well as one of the album’s contributing musicians.“ I first worked with Larry in 2010, producing the soundtrack for the Spirit Lecture Series, an annual program at the National Institute of Environmental Sciences (NIEHS) in Research Triangle Park. We actually remastered that work for this project.
This time they littered my studio floor with a whole new round of unfamiliar (to me) instruments for recording, including the banjo, mandolin, melodica, and xylophone. All very cool! Complex, creative projects, like those with Mebanesville, help me grow, and innovate, and, at times, literally, reinvent myself as a studio engineer and album producer. I’m open to all kinds of musical projects—as demonstrated by my work with Larry and his gang—and I welcome inquiries from artists through my Facebook music page, https://www.Facebook.com/CurrieWayne/.”
Five members of the band are preparing to tour in the UK and Italy later in July, with shows in Oxfordshire in south-central England, and Reggio Emilia province in north-central Italy. They will be performing music from Mebanesville’s extensive transatlantic musical repertoire in bars, clubs, coffee houses, community centers, and local markets. Individual members of the band have performed abroad before, but this trip marks the first time that the players will be performing as Mebanesville at each of their almost dozen planned performances.
Mebanesville began in the summer of 2000 as a group of Larry’s neighbors and friends, playing at an informal Friday evening music session at the Java Connection, a former coffee bar in the space now occupied by the Trackside Bottle Shop in Mebane, NC. Soon people were inviting the musicians to play for private parties and special events. The players took the name Mebanesville - one of the Mebane community's long-standing names from the late 18thinto the late 19th centuries, and its original name at the time of the town’s incorporation - to reflect their love of living locally while exploring music globally.
Mebanesville subtitles its music as “roots, rhythm, and roll,” and is a rich mixture of traditional Anglo-American and Mediterranean folk, Celtic, Latin, contemporary Italian, American song-book, and modern pop music. “If it’s Mebanesville, it’s music without borders,” added Vellani.
Today the full-kit band can include Anthony Holderied, drums (Carrboro); Don Porter, bass and guitar (Mebane); Colombian-born, Fernando Suárez González, accordion and piano (Mebane); Ukrainian-born, Iryna Tkachenko, mandolin, melodica, ukulele, vocals, and xylophone (Chapel Hill); Jane Davis, violin and vocals (Hillsborough); Jody McCall, banjo, bass, harmonica, and vocals (Mebane); Larry Vellani, banjo, bass, guitar, mandolin, and vocals (Mebane); Mike Gasperino, bass, guitar, and vocals (Mebane); Peggy Boswell, pennywhistle (Mebane); Sherry White Lea, bodhran, djembe, hand percussion, harmonica, and vocals (Graham); and Steve Block, bass, mandolin, and vocals (Greensboro).
Mebanesville co-founder, Loreins “Larry” Vellani, is the immediate descendant of Italian emigrants from the Reggio Emilia area of north central Italy. Larry began collecting melodies and lyrics from his family, and later friends and professional musical influences, reflective of the reality of the uprooted and resettled. Growing up in the Hilltop Community of Columbus, Ohio, Larry learned how to sing in Latin and Italian before he could read in English.
Larry has performed with some of the most respected interpreters of social and narrative song and dance—in English, Italian, and Spanish--including Guy and Candy Carawan, Barbara Dane, Mimi Fariña, Ronnie Gilbert, Rhiannon Giddens, Beverly Grant, Si Kahn, Natalia Marrone, Fran McKendree, Michela Musolino, Holly Near, Bruce Phillips, Baldemar Velasquez, and Salvatore Villani. He also has performed with some of the Southeast's most renowned traditional Anglo and Afro-American musicians, including Lonny Austin, Marvin Gaster, Tommy Jarrell, Lauchlin Shaw, Paul Taylor, and Joe Thompson.
Both Larry and his fellow musician, Mebanesville co-founder, and spouse, Peggy Boswell, along with their children, are citizens of the Republic of Italy, as well as the United States. Larry was humbled and honored to be recognized in October 2017 as the Outstanding Italian American of the Year in North Carolina by the Triangle Sons of Italy (TSOI), the largest, longest-established organization for men and women of Italian heritage in North Carolina, in recognition for his study and promotion of Italian and American-Italian story, music, and song.
Whether on stage or tableside, the members of Mebanesville specialize in vocal and instrumental harmonies that creatively embrace songs of love, life, and the human condition.