NORTHEAST HARBOR — Mount Desert Island High School senior Gus LaCasse will headline the First Friday Coffeehouse Friday, Jan. 4. at the Northeast Harbor Library.
The evening begins at 7 p.m. with an open mic session, hosted by Blue Gene. All performing artists are welcome to participate by signing in on the clip board near the door. Each performer can expect about 10 minutes on the mic.
At 8 p.m. the featured program begins. LaCasse, a 17-year-old fiddler from Trenton, fiddles in the Cape Breton/Acadian style. He was featured last summer on the Bangor waterfront as part of the American Folk Festival program, representing music in Downeast Maine.
“You might think that traditional fiddling has died out on the coast of Maine,” event organizers said. “But many families are sitting in their kitchens and making music these days, inspiring young kids. Schools have also stepped in as a place where kids get inspired to play music.”
That’s what happened to LaCasse when he was six years old at Trenton Elementary. He heard another student playing the violin and wanted to do the same.
He started with lessons in classical music, and later developed into a traditional fiddler with help from the Acadia School of Traditional Music and Arts, which hosts a week-long intensive at the College of the Atlantic every July. Faculty from Maine, Canada, the British Isles, Appalachia and beyond offer an intensive week of workshops, classes, concerts and after-hours sessions.
LaCasse studied with Pascal Miousse of the group Vishten, Troy MacGillvray of Cape Breton, Richard Wood of Prince Edward Island and others. He now describes his playing as “hard-driving traditional,” influenced by Acadian and Cape Breton styles.
For the Coffeehouse, LaCasse will play his own compositions as well as traditional tunes — what he calls “kitchen party music.”
The First Friday Coffeehouse is free of charge, though donations are gratefully accepted. Refreshments will be on sale throughout the program in support of the MDES Greenhouse.