Jeneve Mitchell has the talent — and the experience to back it up — that many musicians only dream of achieving. She performs old time country tunes, plays ﬁddle and mandolin, and sings and yodels; an amazing range of talents done by someone who is only eight years old.
Jeneve usually plays with her father in performances and concerts, but dad is quick to leave the spotlight on his daughter. “I just back her up,” he said. While Jeneve plays one of her many instruments, sings and yodels, Tim plays guitar and generally rounds out the performances. And while Jeneve is able to play alone and give a great show, having her dad play with her gives her a bit more focus and conﬁdence.
Her ﬁrst paid gig came at the age of ﬁve, when she played in a family band with her dad, her uncle Steve and a few cousins. They played at the Grand Canyon Hotel. Jeneve sang and yodeled “I Forgot to Remember to Forget You” and “Crazy” by Patsy Cline.
Since moving to Crawford from Las Vegas just over a year ago, she’s played other events and performances around the county, and in the process, has created quite a name for herself. She was interviewed by a DJ on KVNF in June and played on air for 20 minutes, becoming the youngest performer to ever play live for the radio station.
Earlier this year she also played at the Crawford Elementary School, where she is a third grader. Not knowing what to expect, Jeneve pulled out all the stops and played “Whiskey Before Breakfast” on her ﬁddle to some astonished but enthusiastic crowds. “Everyone clapped and cheered,” she said proudly. She didn’t place in the talent show; no one did. “They just do the talent show and say everyone is good,” she said.
And “good” she is; at last year’s Old Time Fiddle Contest at Deltarado Days, she placed ﬁrst in the youth category and second overall, including the adult competitors. The only thing that held her back from claiming the title of champion was three points.
Music is a family affair for the Mitchells. It had long been a dream of Tim’s father, Ray, who also lives in Crawford, to have family band. Eventually, Tim, his four siblings, and his parents started up a band, and played in the North Fork valley, performing for dances, weddings and in bars.
Consequently, Jeneve grew up hearing music of all kinds. Her venture into the world of music came when she was only two years old. She remembers listening to her dad yodel, and she said, “Hey Dad, no more odie-odie,” a story she tells with great relish and many giggles. Soon after, she began yodeling, though it would be a while before she could yodel on tune, Dad said. When she was three years old, she hit the right notes. “I was shocked that a little tiny kid could do that,” Tim said.
It was also when she was three, while out with her family, that she saw a violin. “It looked really cool,” she said. “I asked my dad if I could have it, and he said yes.”
From then, Jeneve was off and running. She began taking lessons in Las Vegas from Miss Erica, a teacher who taught Jeneve the violin and her ﬁrst two tunes, “Devil’s Dream” and “Boil Them Cabbages Down,” two songs that are still in Jeneve’s repertoire today.
When the family moved, Jeneve had to ﬁnd a new teacher. They found Don Payne, who lives in Glenwood Springs, and usually instructs the extremely talented nearly-professionals. Tim remembers taking Jeneve to see Payne, who asked if she even knew any ﬁddle tunes. The teacher was impressed when she whipped out her ﬁddle and played “Devil’s Dream” perfectly.
She now sees him about every two months. During their time together, they pick out a new song for Jeneve to learn, practice it, and then record it. The rest of their time is spent playing with Payne’s mega band, a band comprised of serious professional ﬁddle, mandolin and guitar players who play on national stages, and the youngest of which is 30, save for Jeneve. Through this band, she has even had the chance to play with John Sommers, who played ﬁddle with John Denver.
“I think that’s why she’s gotten so good,” said her mother, Jenny.
At home, she practices once a week after school with David and Tamara Hauze. While David is busy teaching her the music side, Tamara is busy teaching Jeneve stage presence. “She trains me how to smile,” Jeneve said, who has a habit of screwing up her face in deep concentration while she plays. “She points to her mouth to remind me to smile.”
She and her father also play together and practice almost every single day, she said. Her mom helps her with stage presence, too.
Though she started learning on the violin, a year ago Jeneve picked up the ﬁddle, and now doesn’t pick up the violin much anymore. She’s quick to add, “But I could if I wanted to.” Six months ago she started playing the mandolin. She’s also learning to play the ﬂute, an instrument she found just lying around her home. “I thought it looked easy,” she said. “It turned out not to be so easy.”
Jeneve can’t decide what it is she likes to do best. “Mostly everything,” she said, but then added that she loves to play mandolin and yodel best. Her favorite song to perform is “Cowboy Sweetheart,” by Patsy Montana. She said the song is fun to sing and yodel.
When she’s not performing or practicing, she likes to read, play games and be outside, riding one of the family’s horses.
This spring, Jeneve and her father are planning a beneﬁt concert for the Needlerock Mobile Health Clinic, which is operated by her mother. She’s also working on a CD, which will be for sale at the concert, and proceeds from which will help pay for her lessons. She also helps pay for her lessons from tips she earns at various performances.
She’d like to perform in Rockygrass and is looking into performing in what was formerly the North Fork Bluegrass Festival, which will be held in Palisade this coming summer. She’s also looking forward to being able to perform much more in Delta County. “I like to do any kind of performance,” she said.
For all those who want to see Jeneve perform and can’t wait until the beneﬁt concert, she’ll be playing at Crawford County Bank on Wednesday, Dec. 17, at 10 a.m., for the bank’s annual open house. She also has a few demo CDs available. Those are available by calling her mother at 970-812-6403. blog comments powered by Disqus