WATERVILLE — The Second Baptist Church rocked out Saturday as musicians and community members gathered to celebrate local bluegrass and gospel aficionado Curtis Mueller.

Photos of Curt Mueller are displayed Saturday at the Second Baptist Church in Waterville during a benefit concert in his honor. Mueller, who played banjo at the church on Sundays, died in December 2019. Morning Sentinel photo by Meg Robbins

Mueller, of Oakland, who died Dec. 13, 2019, at age 64, did not wish to have a service, so friends and family decided to honor him with a benefit concert instead. The event was held at the church at 172 Water St.

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Mueller played the banjo all over the country with his family band, aptly named the Mueller Family Band. He also took to the stage at local churches and nursing homes. He settled in Maine for the last 30 years of his life, where he worked first as a wildlife biologist and then at Frontier Adjusters, an independent claim adjusting company.

Accordion player Bob Nicholson sings “Keep on the Sunny Side” during a benefit concert Saturday in honor of his friend Curtis Mueller at the Second Baptist Church in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by Meg Robbins

Mueller was not a member of the Second Baptist Church, but played music there on Sundays for the last four years.

“We did a concert a couple of months ago and it was really fun and brought people in,” said Pastor Jennifer Guerrero, who has been on the job with her husband, Joe, since November. “We wanted to do another one as a sort of revival of personal lives and of the church. When Curt passed, we thought it would be a good way of showing we loved him, and to bring people together to remember him as well.”

Approximately a dozen people sat onstage singing, strumming guitars and playing various other instruments as members of the crowded audience clapped and sang along. Soloists took turns playing Mueller’s favorite tunes or songs that otherwise reminded them of him, including “The Wayfaring Stranger” and “Keep on the Sunny Side.”

Audience members film, sing and clap along to bluegrass gospel music Saturday during a benefit concert at the Second Baptist Church in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by Meg Robbins

“Kurt always looked on the sunny side,” said Bob Nicholson, who played music with Mueller. “Life wasn’t always easy for him, but he looked on the sunny side.”

Donations made at the concert will go to the Second Baptist Church and First Choice Pregnancy Center, a prolife nonprofit organization that provides certain family planning services and classes for free. The amount of money raised was not available by press time.

Mueller designated First Choice Pregnancy Center as the organization he wanted contributions to be made to in lieu of flowers upon his death. The center is also partnered with the church.

The audience agreed Saturday as one pianist noted: “If you hear an angel band and you hear a banjo in the background, you’ll know who it is.”

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: