My name is Nev. It’s short for Nevin, that rhymes with Kevin, and not with “leave.” There is a show on MTV now called “Catfish” that stars a fellow named “Nev” whose name is short for something else, and it does rhyme with “leave,” so I wish he’d spell it some other way that made phonetic sense.
I have a thing for unusual names, I guess because I’ve been given one. It was my grandfather’s name, and one that is not all that uncommon in York and Lancaster counties in PA, and what was told to me is that he was named after an English doctor named Dr. Nevin. I’d assumed the doctor had something to do with obstetrics, but through the miracle of the information age, I recently found out about a Dr. Nevin (English, and not just English speaking, as the Pa. Dutch refer to anyone who speaks English as “English”) who ironically was a guest lecturer in many German speaking churches in those counties, promoting the use of English in church services rather than German, in order to promote assimilation. My great grandparents must have fully embraced that notion, as my granddad only spoke enough to curse at his kids, and my Dad only picked up enough to mimic him on rare occasions, and when pressed, admitted that he had no idea what curses he was actually throwing our way.
I didn’t always love my name. When I was young I often thought it was a burden to have a name unfamiliar to most other kids, like it imparted a sense of difference that, while traumatic at an early age, comes to be more desirable as one ages.
My youngest son, who inherited the name from me, but was called “Jack” (being short for his middle name Jackson) all his life, decided upon entering 9th grade that he was to be called “Nevin” in school, having learned what I learned, I guess, that no one ever says “Nevin,who?”
We get to name our kids, and I get to name my instruments, but what would you name yourself, given the opportunity? I fluctuate somewhere between “Bull Tanner” and “Mahatma Ferlighetti,” so I guess I’m better off with what I have.
I have an old friend, whom I haven’t seen in years, who, as part of the process of pushing a reset button on her life, had her name legally changed to “Jerusalem Walker.” It’s such a great name that it makes me think we should all make up names for ourselves, but I doubt that many would think of one any better than that. I asked Jerusalem if she minded my mentioning her and her name on these pages, and also, which version of “Walk in Jerusalem ” had inspiured her choice. She didn’t know the song, so either it’s a coincidence on par with my Emma Nevada story elsewhere here, or there is some other reference that I’m unaware of. In any case, it’s an amazing name, chosen by an amazing person, so I get to choose the version, I guess.
The name for this mandola, the first of its kind, is “Lola”, which beyond the poetic imperative, is the name of my mongrel dog. Part poodle, part spaniel, part dingo, (who knows?), she has matured into a faithful companion and an enthusiastic circus-dog wannabe.
The top of this mandola, though vaguely A-style shaped, is canted rather than carved, because of the great results I’ve been getting from this age-old style of making tops. I like the way the headstock looks, and is in keeping with my tendency lately to reduce the lateral angle of the strings as they hit the nut, as in the snakehead models of Gibson, but even more so here. The back is maple and padauk, in reversed order of prominence to the Gypsy and Bohemian models, sides are mahogany and the neck is flamed maple as well.
This is only the second mandola I’ve made, and the better of the two, but it’s interesting that the inspiration for building instruments in the first place was the mandola playing of Ry Cooder on his early solo albums, and my determination to build what was then a fairly rare beast. He’s playing a mandolin here, and just as he does things with a guitar and a steel slide that no one else can do, his style of mandolin playing is uniquely his. Just like his name.