THORNDIKE, Maine — On a cold, clear evening deep in the woods of Thorndike, three women gathered in an off-the-grid cabin, plugged in the Christmas lights, got out the wine and homemade chocolate and tuned their instruments.
Then the women — all mothers, Waldo County homesteaders and farmers — opened their voices and lost themselves in song. Sugarbush, a trio formed last January comprising Camille Giglio on the cello, Becca Biggs on the banjo and Amy Green on guitar, has had a busy and eventful year, but there’s still nothing the three like better than to get together and sing.
“I love the synergy of our connection as friends and sisters together,” Giglio, 30, of Thorndike said. “We’ve often called this our therapy. Creating music together is very intimate and very deep. We go very deep. We know a lot about each other and our lives. I think that comes across when we play for people.”
The three took very different paths before meeting, but they all have a long time love of music and of choosing a simpler, more deliberate lifestyle. Their homes don’t all feature indoor plumbing, but they are rich in song, they said, adding that many of their counter-culture friends also are musicians and bring instruments to every gathering.
“The point is living a good life,” Green said.
Briggs, 28, of Monroe runs the Roots and Wings Farmstead with her partner, Sean James, and has been writing and playing music since she was a child. Green, 33, of Monroe is a medical marijuana caregiver whose prior musical claim to fame was opening for Maine folk troubadour David Mallett at a show when she was only 16. Giglio, a classically trained cellist, studied musical theater in New York City. But instead of pursuing Broadway dreams, she had what she calls a “major lifestyle shift” and ended up homesteading in Maine.
When the trio first got together to play music last January, they realized pretty quickly they wanted to continue. During the long, snowy winter, practices were an important creative outlet. The rollicking, soulful Americana music they write and play tells stories from their own lives. When it came time to find a name for the trio, they looked around them. At that time, they were practicing at a home that originally belonged to a back-to-the-lander who came from Vermont. There was a big sign that read “Sugarbush,” harkening to maple syrup country, and the women loved it.
“We bring a strong, feminine voice,” Briggs said.
They started to play at open microphone nights in the area and before long were asked to perform at local farms and then at other venues, too. So far this winter, they only have a couple of performances scheduled, including a winter solstice event in Whitefield. But they anticipate their days and nights will be full of music — and that, as Sugarbush keeps developing, they won’t be bored.
“This is a challenge, and I love a good challenge,” Briggs said. “And I love how much I’m growing as a musician and a person.”