After a decade, Yarmouth bluegrass band takes all-girl turn

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YARMOUTH — Members of 317 Main Community Music Center’s rotating contemporary bluegrass ensemble for teenagers – which, for the first time is an all-girls band – said performing together for the past few years hasn’t only made them better musicians, but more confident in general.

Flight 317 members change as musicians come into high school and typically play with the band until they graduate. 

Sigrid Sibley, however, is in her second year at the University of Southern Maine studying music education and still plays mandolin with the group. She, alongside Yarmouth High School juniors Adriana Whitlock and Emi Schneider and Greely High School junior Terra Gallo, are the current composition of Flight 317. 

Schneider plays guitar, Gallo the fiddle and Whitlock, bass. All four members sing – “some better than others,” Gallo said with a laugh during an Aug. 31 interview. 

“It’s amazing to be able to share music with everyone and watch the effect it has on others while we’re performing,” Schneider said. “It’s one of the best feelings.”

Flight 317 was created in 2008 by Carter Logan, a co-founder of the band Jerks of Grass and one of the first teaching artists at 317 Main. 

“It’s kind of empowering to have all girls in this day and age and being able to form this sisterly bond,” Schneider said. “We’ve all become pretty much best friends … By playing music, it’s kind of an instant bond and has continued to bring us closer.”

Sibley added that she doesn’t think about it often, but it’s nice not to think about stereotyped gender roles when they’re on stage together. 

“We can just think about playing music,” she said. 

Performing together, Schneider said, has made them all more passionate about their music and confident playing in front of others

“I used to be really scared to sing or play music in front of people but being with a group like this and a teacher like Carter have definitely motivated me,” she said. “I feel really comfortable on stage with them. We have each other’s backs.”

“I used to have really bad stage fright but I feel much more comfortable now that I’m playing with a group I know so well and trust,” Sibley added. “If I mess up I know someone is going to cover for me.”

This week, the quartet is between two of its biggest performances this summer. The first was at Thomas Point in Brunswick on Sept. 1. They’re now preparing to open at Henryfest at Skyline Farm in North Yarmouth on Sept. 8. 

“We’ve been going to (Henryfest) for years as fans,” Whitlock said. “So it’s going to be really exciting to actually play there.”

Of the acts they’ll be sharing the stage with is Wilson Banjo Co., for which Logan’s daughter, Sarah Logan, plays the fiddle and sings. Sarah Logan was in Flight 317 when it was first started a decade ago. 

“We’ve all been really inspired as well by the previous members of flight,” Sibley said. “It’s really exciting to share the stage with one of the founding Flight members and also really inspiring to see where she went.”

The quartet also said they’ve been inspired by the traditional folk trio Lula Wiles, who are all from Maine. Flight 317 opened for Lula Wiles at the First Parish Congregational Church in Yarmouth, which Schneider, Gallo, Sibley and Whitlock agreed was their most memorable performance. 

“They’re an all-female group from the area that’s made it,” Whitlock said. “It was inspiring to see that it is possible to do something like that.”

The band hopes to continue playing together in some capacity, even after they’ve passed the torch down to younger musicians and moved on from Flight 317. 

“Even after we’ve stopped playing with Flight I think we’ll all still get together and jam in the summers,” Whitlock said. 

“Carter and 317 Main as a whole has really helped us get off the ground,” Schneider added. “We can’t thank them enough for that.”

More than gigs, Logan and 317 Main have helped the quartet create long-standing friendships. 

“Music creates a bond,” Gallo said. “You’re so intuitive when you’re playing together and when we look at each other we can just tell what the other is thinking and can communicate so much better when you’re all playing together.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

Flight 317 performs Sept. 1 at the Thomas Point Bluegrass Festival. The current makeup of the 317 Main Community Music Center’s rotating teenage contemporary bluegrass ensemble is its first all-female incarnation: Adriana Whitlock, Emi Schneider, Sigrid Sibley and Terra Gallo.

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