Elsie Gawler is a multi-instrumentalist and songster rooted in Maine’s traditional folk music and culture. With her family, the Gawler Family Band, she has played throughout the state and beyond, sharing traditional fiddle tunes, songs, and original works since she was 6 years old. From this foundation she has branched out and launched her debut solo album, Sweet As Honey. The album is a collection of 9 original songs inspired by sacred connection to earth and community. While continuing to play regularly with The Gawler Family Band, her other projects include duo Elsie & Ethan, and trio The Gawler Sisters. She has also been a long-time member of the group Childsplay.
The longer story
Elsie’s parents, John and Ellen Gawler, met playing traditional fiddle music for contra dances around the state of Maine in the 70’s. When they had their three daughters, Molly, Edith, and Elsie, it was only natural to fold them into an already thriving musical life. Elsie picked up her first fiddle at age 3 (Ellen Gawler is also a fiddle/violin teacher) and switched to cello at age 9. She studied classical cello throughout her childhood but found her love for music and community in the world of traditional folk music and dance. She spent her teenage years exploring the relatively new role cellists found in traditional fiddle music with her primary teachers being those who taught at Maine Fiddle Camp. In her early 20’s she went on to become a teacher at Maine Fiddle camp and continues to teach cello there every year. Elsie joined the Boston based “fiddle orchestra” known as Childsplay at age 16 and played cello with the band until 2019 when the group celebrated their last tour.
Throughout Elsie’s childhood and adult life her family band, the Gawler Family, has maintained a strong presence in the state of Maine, playing for contra dances, small listening audiences, large opera houses, weddings, and any manner of shindigs. At some point Elsie and her two sisters Molly and Edith branched out from the family band nest and began taking the stage as the Gawler Sisters. The sisters deliver intricate three part harmony songs that are enriched by the familial quality of their voices. Both the Gawler Family Band (with Bennett Konesni and Ethan Tischler) and the Gawler Sisters continue to spread their infectious smiles and music around their home state and beyond.
Elsie picked up her first banjo at age 22 (John Gawler is a renowned banjo player) and this new instrument opened the door to the world of songwriting. Elsie began to explore a new dimension of her music by writing and arranging her own songs which eventually led to the recording and producing of the album “Sweet As Honey” (released in 2020)- a collection of 9 original songs from those initial years of songwriting.
Elsie met Ethan Tischler (a musician from Vermont) at Maine Fiddle Camp in 2016 and from there they grew a musical connection that eventually turned into a partnership and musical duo in 2019. Elsie and Ethan continue to write, play, and record their own original songs and tunes. Together they create a rich original sound that is alive with their love for the music they make together.
Alongside her life as a musician Elsie has led a full life in mid-coast Maine, one that has always been grounded in deep connection to land, nature, and craft. She is actively working with her dad and sisters in the family’s roofing business (her father’s trade) known as Gawler & Daughters Sheet Metal Roofing Co. In addition to roofing Elsie has found her way into large scale vegetable farming, dairy farming, cheesemaking, herbal medicine, herb farming, visual arts, graphic design, rowing, community singing, carpentry, and tiny house building; all of which enrich and inspire the music that she makes.