About Maine Acoustic Festival
2019 MAF Coaching Staff
Jeff Christmas began playing music when he was 6 years old. Since then he has made his way from pop guitar to musical theater to jazz bands to opera to Americana and just about everything in between. Jeff specializes in vocal instruction with experience in a wide variety of genres. He is equally at home on the operatic stage and in a smoky bar. Pedagogically, Jeff believes that no genre has a monopoly on good, healthy, artistic singing and works to nurture that in all of his students.
Jeff was raised in Burlington, North Carolina and has lived in California, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and South Carolina before moving to Portland in 2015. He got his undergraduate degree in Music Industry Studies (with a minor in Spanish) at Appalachian State University and then went on to get a Masters of Music from the Boston Conservatory.
Ellen Gawler first picked up the fiddle at age 7. She’s conversant in many styles, including Irish, Maritime, Quebecois, Shetland, and New England.
She has been a member of the Maine Country Dance Orchestra, Old Grey Goose, Trillium, Borovchani, Pine Hill Band, Village Harmony, Childsplay, and Ladies of the Lake. She also tours with her husband and 3 daughters as the Gawler Family. Ellen has been awarded the Maine Arts Commission Master Artist/Apprenticeship Grant, to teach traditional Maine fiddling. As Co-founder of the Pineland Suzuki School, she directs the Pineland Fiddlers, an aspiring youth fiddle group who is dedicated to the traditional music of Maine. Ellen is a Suzuki violin/fiddle teacher of 25 years, and continues to teach at the Pineland Suzuki School, at 317 Main and at music camps around New England.
Steve Muise is a versatile fiddle player and educator who enjoys playing everything from Québecois to jazz. He is a sought after solo musician and founder of the Franklin County Fiddlers, a group of high school musicians that tours around Maine. Their most recent high-profile gig was performing at Governor Janet Mills inauguration ceremony. Steve is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, and is a stringed instrument teacher in the MBRSD schools (Farmington area). Steve was honored with the “Maine Music Educator of the Year” award in 2007 from MMEA.
Mitch was born in Bayou Vista, Louisiana and raised in Lafayette by musicians and storytellers from Mamou. He’s played alongside Louisiana greats such as Canray Fontenot, Wade Frugé, Michael Doucet, Steve Riley, Charles Neville, Zachary Richard and George Porter. In addition I’ve worked with Richard Thompson, Natalie Merchant, Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Natalie McMaster, and Kenny Baker to name a few. In 2009 he was awarded a Grammy with BeauSoleil for the album “Live at the 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival”.
Mitch recently retired from 11 years on the road as the bass player and second fiddler with BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet. Thanks to a recent move to Maine with his family, Mitch is now teaching at 317 Main Community Music Center.
Questions? Contact Amanda Gale/Festival Coordinator at email@example.com
Highlights for 2017 Maine Acoustic Festival
Short Documentary about The Maine Acoustic Festival
(A short video-documentary about the Maine Acoustic Festival)