For a number of years, central Maine has been welcoming in the new year with a concert composed of two of Maine’s premiere fiddling families — the Gawlers and the Boardmans — and this year is no exception. Ellen Gawler and Greg and Jessie Boardman will perform at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24, at Jewett Auditorium on the UMA campus. To that end, I arranged a telephone interview with Greg Boardman to find out what will be happening at said show. I began with the obvious question: What can folks expect from this latest team-up of talent?

Boardman: Let’s see. We sort of cut our teeth on traditional songs and dance music from Quebec, the Maritimes, New England, British Isles before that, some Scandinavian, and just the various tribes and clans from the old world that ended up in this new world. We grew up just really loving the old-time music from our area. Ellen and I sought out all the old fiddlers and singers that we could and soaked things up. We’ve moved along since then with not only our contemporaries but younger musicians coming up who are absorbing the old styles but also are putting a lot of the new into it. There was a time where we weren’t playing anything but so-called traditional compositions, but now there’s a lot of new music coming out that we’re loving and playing — and we’re writing our own — that includes songs as well as dance music.

Q: Just in the traditional music genre, there’s such depth that you could mine that for decades and still not reach the bottom.

Boardman: You got it, so we’ve just really been enjoying that.

Q: You said something about songwriting. Are you a songwriter, as well?

Boardman: Yes, last April or May I released a CD of my own compositions.

Q: Is your original music probably influenced by what you have grown up with?

Boardman: I would say so, yeah.

Q: Have you performed at Jewett before?

Boardman: Yeah, this must be the fourth one. Gosh, we just started this eight years ago when the Gawlers had been playing every other year there, and they decided to invite the Boardmans. The first time I just came with my three sons — they’re all grown up now and have moved from the area — but now my wife and I are keeping a hand in for that. So it’s been real nice for the Gawlers to invite us to join with them on this every-other-year basis — at least that’s the way it’s turned out. So this will be our fourth appearance, I believe, at that Jewett Hall series.

Q: Are you the founder of the Maine Fiddle Camp?

Boardman: Yes.

Q: How long has that been going on?

Boardman: We started that in ’94. It’s grown incrementally and steadily. It’s very strong and has brought together some extraordinary people, and lot of bands and weddings have come out of it. It’s really nice.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the readers of this article?

Boardman: Well, I should probably mention that I was recently awarded, from the Maine Arts Commission, the Traditional Arts Fellowship. I appreciated that and I think that they would appreciate that being mentioned.

Q: What does this entail?

Boardman: It’s a financial gift and a recognition of a job well done. It’s very flattering.

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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