Gawler Family Band Submitted photo

Over the years of doing this, one Maine act has been my go-to group of musicians when I’m in need of a column. That group of talented artists is the Gawler Family Band. Whether it is as a solo act, or a duo, or a trio or as a full, six-piece band the collective level of talent is off the charts when it comes to these folks. It has been a while since I had the chance to touch bases with the Gawler clan and when the lack of internet and phone connectivity arose recently and the need for a column was getting right down to the wire, all I needed to do was contact Elsie Gawler and put in a hasty request for a chat. As it turned out, her sister Molly volunteered to bail me out. From her home in Belfast, this gracious young woman took my call and gave me new insight into the Gawler family and what holds them all together: music.

Q: So you’re coming into One Longfellow Square, I believe?
Gawler: Exactly, we are. The Gawler Family Band is playing there on Jan. 12.

Q: Have you performed at that venue before?
Gawler: We have, three times.

Q: What is the family band made up of now? In the past it was your mom and dad and the three daughters.
Gawler: Oh yes, this is a good question, because it’s expanding; it’s really exciting. I’ll start with Mom and Dad, Ellen and John Gawler, and then the three daughters, Molly, Edith and Elsie; and then we have Bennett in our band. Bennett Konesni and Edith were married for many years and divorced, but we also decided that we wanted to be band mates still. So we’re so lucky to have him in our band even with the change of their marital status (chuckle). And then we also have Ethan Tischler, whose Elsie’s partner, and they have a duo band nowadays, also.

Q: I have interviewed Ethan when he put out a solo album recently.
Gawler: Oh yeah, that was a really wonderful solo album he put out, so we’re lucky. We have a seven-piece band right now, and that’s what will be performing at the OLS coming up.

Q: And it’s a benefit for you because now you have so many things to draw upon as far as material goes. With that thought in mind, is it hard putting a set list together?
Gawler: (Laughter) Oh, yeah, that’s a great question. We have so much material, as you say, and we’ve found that putting together a set list has been part of the artistic process for us. We actually put a lot of thought into it. When it comes to making a decision of what gets played, we pass around the directorship, if you will, of who makes the set list. Usually there’s a set-list assistant, and we let different people do that for each show. That’s really fun, and we are lucky at this point to have lots of material that feels ready to go and that can be put in whenever we want to use them.

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Q: Well, speaking of material, are there any new projects that might be released in the months ahead?
Gawler: That’s a great question. The most current recording project on the horizon (will be) be starting in January (laughter), which is so exciting. We’ve been nudging my mom about this dream for years, and finally she is putting together a solo fiddle album!

Q: Really?!
Gawler: Yes! And it’s just going to be a gift to the world. We’re so excited. When one of us wants to do an album, we just all say, “OK, yeah, we’re onboard, and we’ll just do whatever we can to help and support you!” Ethan is going to be recording it. He’s quite the recording engineer, and that’s something that happened in the pandemic: he took that as a project for himself.

Q: Can you share your thoughts about being a part of this band?
Gawler: I feel very fortunate to have grown up in the Gawler family and to have this band as good glue that sticks us all together, and we always feel like we’re adopting people into our family (laughter).

Q: And family is the most important part of our existence, because without it we are just adrift. So I feel that it is, indeed as you said, the glue that holds us all together.
Gawler: Yes.

Q: Is there anything, Molly that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Gawler: Well, I guess that it’s just exciting that each of us in the band, the seven members, are doing music in so many ways. After having to take a break from all of that due to the pandemic — having to stop doing concerts — and being able to go back at it now, it feels like we’re reentering in this really positive way (laughter). I can’t wait to perform in Portland for everybody.

 

Lucky Clark, a 2018 “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award winner, has spent more than 50 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.