We recently had a wonderful opportunity to chat with James Egidio Faiella. Jimmy—as his famiglia and friends call him—is a proud, professional Italian-American mandolinist performing traditional Italian Folk Music on the mandolino. It’s a tradition that’s been in his family for four generations.
Jimmy was born and raised in West Aliquippa and Aliquippa, PA. He still lives in the 15001 zip code—an old, beat up steel mill town that’s still trying to find its way since the collapse in the mid 1980’s.
Two tracks from Jimmy’s CD were featured in Episode 64 of HBO’s “THE SOPRANOS.” While Jimmy says that it was just by pure luck that his music was featured, after listening to his CD, you’ll know that it was certainly his talent. By the way, you can check out Jimmy’s HBO & IMDB credits here:
Jimmy was gracious enough to discuss with us his musical career as well as his Italian heritage.
CP: Why did you choose to play the mandolin?
Jimmy: I owe it all to my Italian immigrant Grandfather, the original James Egidio Faiella (God rest his soul) from Introdacqua, Abruzzo, Italy. From my birth, until I was 16 years old, every Sunday in West Aliquippa, PA was filled with traditional Italian folk music performed on my grandfather’s mandolins, accompanied on the acoustic guitar by my father, Eugene Benny Faiella (www.Jaggerz.com ). Weekends were like musical magic to my ears! Like my grandfather and father, I do not read or write music. I hear and feel music so it’s no exaggeration when I say I can play most of my repertoire with my eyes closed!
CP: What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of performing?
Jimmy: The genuine emotions of my clients and the happiness of their family and friends is priceless! For 18 years, I have been proudly performing at countless private engagements such as wedding receptions and anniversaries as well as public stage performances and strolling at Italian Festas. Thank God for my grandparents!
CP: What were some of your most memorable performances? Any particular event or venue stick out?
Jimmy: Performing my mandolino on stage in front of crowds of over 5,000 people at the old Pittsburgh Festa Italiana at the old IC Light Amphitheatre at Station Square, run by DiCesare/Engler Productions! Countless people bought mandolino CDs after every stage performance! I’ve been performing for nearly two decades and I have many memorable performances at many different venues all across our beautiful United States of America.
CP: What are some of your favorite Italian traditions and why?
Jimmy: Proudly performing Italian Folk Music on the Mandolin!
CP: What does being Italian mean to you?
Jimmy: Famiglia, music, art, food, love and culture in my blood. It’s in my DNA!
CP: What accomplishments in life are you most proud of?
Jimmy: Being self-employed! For years, I was a proud small business owner of a small independent bricks and mortars video store called Quipflix (formerly called Video Highlights), located on Brodhead Road in Aliquippa, PA, for years. Rentals of VHS, DVD, Blue-Ray & various gaming formats (PS2, PS3, XBox360, etc.) were very good to my family and I. Sadly, we went out of business and I had to close the store in late 2010. I knew the end was near, when big chains like Movie Gallery, Hollywood Video and especially Blockbuster closed their doors. Most of all, I deeply and truly miss my good customers.
I am also proud of being a professional Italian-American mandolinista. Only weeks after closing the video store, in late 2010, I decided to go professional, after many years of being semi-professional. I knew I needed a good and professional booking agent, so I contacted the best in Pittsburgh, Mrs. Lana DiSalvo of www.MHMProductions.biz.
CP: What are some of your favorite hobbies?
Jimmy: Spending as much time as possible with my 4-year-old grandson. Since his birth, the past four years have been the most incredible years of my life. Watching him grow and learn has been like witnessing a true miracle, right before my very eyes. I can’t say enough or find the words to describe my deep love for that little boy. I thank God that he is healthy, strong and growing into a wonderful, loving young man. “PUPPUP”—that’s what he calls me!
CP: What else would you like our readers to know about you?
Jimmy: I’m just an ordinary guy who experienced an extraordinary childhood of traditional Italian Folk music, food, culture and a most loving famiglia. It helped shape me into the person I am today. I am genuinely thankful to still be alive to share my love and talents with my famiglia, friends and clients! Please, keep in touch with me at my www.MANDOLINO.net. A heartfelt thanks to Ciao Pittsburgh and to all of you reading this, thank you as well! Much Love, Egidio