You get the feeling that as long as people are showing up for a Poverty String Band performance are grinning, the Poverty String Band will be pickin’. One of the best known bands in the region, they have been performing for 40 years.
Folks who remember their 30th anniversary will not forget where their 40th anniversary show will be staged.
“Boneyfiddle has what they call – ‘Final Friday’ – and Bob Black has graciously asked us to come and do our 40th celebration at the Final Friday, except it’s going to be on the Fourth of July, which falls on a Monday,” Greg Romanello, a member of the band, said. “We’ll be right there on Second and Court streets, and that is exactly where we did our 30th year celebration.”
Romanello said there will be a host of bands performing throughout the day. The Poverty String Band will play from 5-7:30 p.m.
“We’ll have our full group and Dana (Romanello) will be up from Nashville and some other of our friends get on stage with us sometimes,” Greg said. “It will be two-and-a-half hours of a varied musical genre including country, bluegrass, Americana, blues, and some old rock.”
“Everything from Mustang Sally to Amazing Grace,” Bev (Romanello) Pertuset chimed in.
Their guest, a fourth-generation musician, Dana Romanello began singing with her family’s bluegrass band in Lucasville at a very young age. Her recording career took off and she has been at it ever since.
“I am a sales manager here at the (Country Music) Hall of Fame,” Dana Romanello said. “What I do is bring in high school bands and choirs and orchestras to perform here at the hall and to tour the museum and to also record at RCA Studio B, where Elvis did over 200 recordings. We operate that as part of the museum.
Dana, who participated in 4-H for 10 years in Scioto County – “a tight-knit community”, was a music education major at Marshall, where she was a cheerleader. In fact, she was also a cheerleader with the Tennessee Titans. Dana is currently working on some new music.
“I have an E.P., that’s available that’s only been out about a-year-and-a-half or so,” Dana said. “And I’m working on new music now. I haven’t been writing much lately, getting my feet wet with this new job, a kind of career transition after being in radio for so long. I travel a lot now with my job, but it has taken me a while to get settled. I’m writing again now and hope to have an album out next year.”
The Poverty String Band is one of the longest running bands in the state of Ohio.
“It started in the late 1920s,” Joe Romanello said. “It started with our grandmother, Irene Adkins Clevenger, out of Elliott County, Kentucky.”
The current band, Pertuset, Greg and Joe Romanello, the fourth generation, Bobby Hall, Adam Jackson and Jeff Weaver, a lineup that will vary from night to night. Fact is, another generation or two is already in the wings. Bev’s son Seth Carkeek has a bluegrass band of his own – The Grass Stains, while grandchildren are already cutting their teeth on the last acoustic guitar left in the room.
“Our dad, Don (Romanello) and John Pasturzak, both deceased, were in the first Earl Thomas Conley band,” Greg said. “Earl would come up to the house and they would practice. Their first gig was in Bardstown, Kentucky. Our dad played bass with them.”
In 1974 when Greg and Joe were playing around with some bluegrass bands, Joe was a member of Frog and the Greenhorns. Later the PSB was on the bill with legendary performers like Bill Monroe, James Monroe, Jim and Jesse, Ralph Stanley, Lester Flatt, and a host of performers that reads like a “Who’s Who” of bluegrass.
“It actually started just before our grandmother,” Pertuset said. “Her father, our great-grandfather, James Adkins, who lived in Sandy Hook, Kentucky, used to have little music gatherings at their house on Saturday nights and all the neighbors would come and they’d play music. He played the fiddle and they would dance.”
Greg said it was in 1976 when he talked Bev into singing with the group and the rest is history.
“He handed her the guitar and said ‘this is G, C, B,’” Joe said. “That’s how it started.” Four months later they played their first gig at Frontier Ranch in Columbus, Ohio.”
In the original band, Joe played guitar, Dave Skeens (R.W. Skeens’ son) played mandolin, Danny Lute played bass.
The rest is history. But if it can be said about anyone that music is in their blood, it has to be said about the Romanello family.
“We’ve evolved with what we grew up with and what we’ve been saturated with our whole life,” Greg said. “And by picking up other band members, Bobby Hall, Mike Reed, we dive into country and even the Americana that you hear on the radio now and see on TV – Alison Krauss, more of a progressive style, but we can reach back and do a square dance.”
The band will begin the next 40 years on the Fourth of July weekend, and they show no signs of slowing down.
“We’re still having fun,” Bev said. The others nodded – in harmony of course.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.