Mercedes Mendive
Musician  / Musikaria  / Músico

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Orri hau euskaraz ere itzuli da laster. Begiratu berriro laster.


Mercedes Mendive is the daughter of Joe and Veronica Mendive. She attended schools in Elko and has lived in Reno, Nevada as well as 11 years in Miami, Florida. Her father, Joe, was very involved in the local Basque Club and especially the preservation of Basque music. He was undoubtedly one of her greatest influences beginning at a very young age. Mercedes’ parents were always a huge support in her musical endeavors and made it possible for her to acquire the instruments that she needed to evolve with the accordion, which wasn't an easy task back in the early to mid- 1980's. Good accordions were more difficult to find as there was no Google, eBay or Internet. It took them several years to locate the factory in Italy that made the Paolo Soprani accordions; however, once the Mendive family was able to make contact (with the help of a family friend who did business in Italy), Mercedes' parents ordered her first professional accordion in 1995.  It was finally hand-delivered in  1996. According to Mercedes, the accordion factory at time was the Menghini accordion factory (located in Castel Fidardo, Italy). Menghini reportedly purchased the Paolo Soprani company and according to the information she received, the company only made one accordion a day. When her father placed the order for her professional accordion, she essentially went on a waiting list. From the time the order was placed until the moment the she received her accordion, it was close to one year.  But from that day forward, she began an incredible musical journey that has shaped her life in ways she could have never imagined.

As a young child she recalls attending Basque dancing practice at the Girl Scout House, but what stands out in her mind about these practices was the live accordion music being played by a magnificent accordionist named Bernardo Yanci. So from this very influential age, the sound of the accordion was constantly present in her world. A chance happening at the age of 10 would change her life forever.  By a happy coincidence she accompanied her dad to Bernardo's  house one afternoon in early 1980. Bernardo's daughter had a beginner's accordion which Mercedes began to play with.  Somehow in the midst of this, Bernardo offered his help in teaching Mercedes the accordion. Her recollection was that her father said yes to the accordion lessons before she even knew what was happening. Beginning in early 1980, Mercedes began taking accordion lessons until approximately 1983. Even in the years that followed, she would often call upon Bernardo for his advice on complex music. Bernardo often shared important pieces of music that were written by not only himself, but his famous cousin, Jose "Pepe" Yanci.  Bernardo was always available anytime Mercedes needed him. She says she could not be who she is today without him and the musical guidance he provided. Bernardo was such a tremendous musician, friend and musical inspiration to her. His accordion style and technique is something that has had considerable influence on how she interprets music and from a creative standpoint, how she writes her own original music. According to her, she was extremely fortunate to learn this musical craft from such an unbelievably gifted musician, and this sentiment of gratitude is something that she keeps in her pocket everywhere she goes. 

When Mercedes was about 7 or 8 years-old, her father recognized a musical inclination about her. Whether it was a xylophone, keyboard, recorder/flute or percussive instruments, her father and mother did their best to accommodate her musical interests. Prior to learning the accordion, Mercedes began playing  the piano and took piano lessons for a short period of time. She says that interestingly, when she began playing the piano, it didn't feel right; if anything, it felt foreign to her; as if the piano keys were too bulky under her fingers when she played. But the moment she began to tinker with that beginner's accordion at Berardo's house, it felt natural to her and somehow it just made sense. 

Mercedes has performed at venues that have taken her to the prestigious International Accordion Festival in San Antonio, Texas, music festivals in Orlando, Miami; festivals in California, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and all over the state of Nevada. She was invited to perform as a soloist for the Smithsonian Txotx event in Washington, DC in May 2016,  and returned  to Wahington DC in July 2016 for the prestigious Smithsonian folklife festival while accompanying the Elko Ariñak Basque Dancers (Basque Dancers of the Great Basin) for several days of performances. Mercedes has performed as far as the  Basque Country in northern Spain while enjoying musical jam sessions with fellow musicians abroad. She has been a fixture at many of the annual  Basque Festivals since she was in her early 20's; but for her a favorite venue is always a place where she can tuck herself into a corner, plug into her sound system and completely transform a room. Seeing people dancing and singing to her music brings her the greatest joy of all. 
Mercedes recorded her first album/CD  in San Francisco in 2003 titled "Journey to Euskadi", which was influenced by a solo trip she took to the Basque Country in 2001 to surprise a friend for her wedding. There was so much inspiration from this trip that while sitting in her cousin's piso in Burlada [Pamplona], she wrote several songs with a borrowed accordion. Once she returned home to the United States, she finished the music for her album in a matter of weeks. She continues to progress and write music, incorporating new sounds and ideas into underlying basque folkloric sounds. She intends to cut another album in the not-to-distant future.  Another endeavor she has undertaken is mastering her beloved Castagari trikitixa.  

Since leaving Miami and returning to Nevada in late 2015, Mercedes has enthusiastically picked up musically where she left off so many years ago. Music has again become a primary focus and she's excited that she can finally share this magnificent culture with not only her community, but she's especially thrilled to be a musical influence in her daugher's world, who coincidentally has really taken to the Basque culture and is becoming a beautiful dancer in her own right. 

Mercedes' latest endeavor is the Ariñak Project that she co-founded during the summer of 2016 with lifelong friend and fellow dancer/musician Janet Iribarne. Their focus is to elaborate on the Basque Culture not only with traditional dancer, but with new dances, new music, instruments, language and songs, thus bringing about a new focus of Basque culture; not only to Club members but to their community as whole. Togehter (and with the help of other talented volunteers and instructors) they are looking forward to sharing creative ideas and elaborating on the cultural aspects of music, language, and dance within their Basque Club and and within their community.  

​In September 2017,  Mercedes' 2017 album "Journey to Euskadi" was launched into iTunes, CdBaby, Google Play and Amazon mp3. Her music can also be streamed through several music streaming services that include  Tidal, iTunes Music, Pandora, Spotify and many other music streaming services. She is now in the process of completing multiple original singles,  some of which will be released in the very near future - so stay tuned!

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