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Jeff McKeen: accordion, guitar and the bones

Jeff grew up in a musical household, singing at home and at church. As a young man he began playing the guitar, first learning popular and rock and roll music, later turning towards folk and traditional idioms. In college, he began playing banjo and mandolin, later adding fiddle and button accordion. In 1977, he co-founded the traditional music group Old Grey Goose and has toured with them throughout his native New England as well as in the southern Appalachians and the Pacific Northwest. In 1990, he toured Brazil with Project Troubadour, an organization devoted to international cultural exchange through music. He has worked as a folklorist for numerous cultural organizations in Maine and the Canadian Maritimes, conducting research, producing folk festivals and radio documentaries, and collecting folk songs and dance tunes from traditional musicians. In 2002, the Governor of Maine appointed Jeff to the Maine Arts Commission. When not playing music he is co-owner and operator of an oyster farm.

Jeff McKeen photo

Doug Protsik: fiddle, piano and accordion

Doug Protsik has played music all his life since starting piano lessons at age five. In high school and college he developed an interest in folk music and guitar. After moving to Maine in 1971, he began studying and playing traditional music from New England, adding fiddle, accordion, and country-dance calling to his repertoire. He has performed throughout the United States at folk festivals, concerts, and dances. Doug has also traveled and performed in Europe and spent seven months touring the world learning and exploring the traditional music in countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Nepal.
Doug also composes, performs, and records old-time piano scores for silent movies and was commissioned to produce 12 new old-time piano scores for silent movie restoration projects that were broadcast on Turner Classic Movies. In 2008, working with the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat, he was asked to participate in the first Turkmenistan International Movie Festival by composing a special silent movie orchestral score for professional Turkmen musicians with whom he performed at the festival.
Teaching at a variety of academic levels and providing educational programs to schools and summer camps is another aspect of Doug’s musical work. He has been designated Master Old-Time Fiddler by the Maine Arts Commission and received numerous grants in their apprenticeship program to mentor aspiring fiddlers. As Director of Maine Fiddle Camp, he has produced 12 annual fiddle tune collections with sheet music and accompanying CD’s to facilitate the learning of traditional tunes at camp. Some of the collections and documentary videos he has also produced can be accessed on the website www.mainefiddlecamp.org.
Doug was chosen to select and lead a contingent of fiddlers from Maine for the NPR radio program Prairie Home Companion broadcast live from Bangor, Maine, May 3, 2008:  http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/programs/2008/05/03/
Doug composes and arranges for Old Grey Goose International’s collaborations with other musicians and is a full-time musician, music educator, and concert and program producer based in Maine.

Doug Protsik photo

Eric Rolfson: guitar, mandolin, harmonica and upright bass

Eric grew up in France where he began playing rock and roll music in the mid-1960’s, influenced by the British and American bands of the period. His mother bought him a banjo as a high-school graduation present. He took it with him to Maine in 1969 where he also discovered the mandolin and began playing the traditional music of the region. While teaching in Europe, he wrote a textbook on how to use folksong in the classroom to teach American History and Social Studies. “Folksongs bring history to life,” Rolfson explained. “Because these songs tell a story, you quickly get to the essence of the drama. Live performance, which has immediate emotional impact for students, also helps them retain detail,” Rolfson noted. Rolfson currently works at the University of Maine as vice president for development.

Eric Rolfson photo

Bennett Konesni: guitar, banjo and upright bass

Bennett Konesni was raised in Maine and was naturally drawn into the strong communities of old-time music, sailing, and farming in the area.  At thirteen he shipped as a deckhand aboard local schooners, sailing Penobscot Bay and learning the traditional work songs of the tall ships as he raised sails and hauled anchor.  Later, at Middlebury College, Bennett co-founded the student farm and spent six months studying Zulu farming songs in South Africa.  He was awarded a Thomas J Watson fellowship to spend a postgraduate year in Tanzania, Ghana, Mongolia, Vietnam, Switzerland, and Holland studying worksongs of sea, field and steppe. This included 9 weeks of research in Khovd Aimag, Mongolia.  

More recently Bennett co-founded Sylvester Manor, a 243-acre educational farm on Shelter Island, NY.  In addition to long-range strategic planning and outreach for the organization, his roles include teaching worksongs to the farm crew and directing the annual fall festival “Plant & Sing”, which brings the community to the farm to complete two week’s worth of garlic shucking and planting in a single morning, all while singing.  Bennett has given a Ted talk about his work, and speaks, teaches, and performs regularly throughout North America individually and as parts of several bands.  He and his wife Edith are building a homestead of their own in Belfast, Maine.

Bennett Konesni photo

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