Next Saturday, October 29th, fans of old time country music can enjoy a bean supper and concert featuring local artists Lou and Maureen Mathieu, with special guest Doug Protsik. The event is a joint effort between the Windham Veteran’s Association (WVA) and the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame (MCMHF).
Lou was inducted into the MCMHF in 2014. His father, also in the MCMHF, was a fiddler, who introduced Lou to playing music at a very young age. Lou’s father ran a band called the Saccarappa Boys, which was started in 1976. Lou filled in with them sometimes, and when the older members stopped playing, the band became a bluegrass band under Lou’s direction. He also played for twelve years with the Maine French Fiddlers, along with his father. With this group, Lou toured all over the country.
After retiring from the mill, Lou started his own business teaching music and repairing instruments. He ran this out of his garage for 15 years. Though he is now retired from teaching, he still does some instrument repair, mainly through word of mouth recommendations.
When the bluegrass band broke up, Lou said, he returned to teaching and playing with his students. He and Maureen kept learning new material and began performing together. They mainly perform old time country and old time western songs with yodeling and a wide range of string instruments.
Maureen was born and raised in Weston, VT. She grew up playing bluegrass and ragtime on the piano. After moving to Maine, she learned to play a variety of other instruments including the accordion, fiddle, mandolin and bass. In addition to performing, Maureen does custom pearl inlay on instruments, also through word of mouth.
Maureen and Lou met when she was at a gig he was playing with his father. During the intermission, she started speaking with his dad, and discovered that Lou gave fiddle lessons. “I gave her my card, and the rest is history,” Lou said.
The couple has been together for ten years, married for almost six. They play at nursing homes and senior facilities, farmer’s markets and other venues, including Lenny’s Pub, where they will perform on Wednesday, October 26th from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. “We do it for the fun of it,” Maureen said. “We get a lot of joy in making people happy with music.”
Lou and Maureen have played at the Windham Veteran’s Center before, with other musicians from the MCMHF. “It is so much fun to play for the veterans,” said Maureen.
Dick Small, president of the Windham Veteran’s Association, said the partnership began when the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame (MCMHF) wanted to move its museum from Mechanic Falls to Windham. Although the museum might end up just over the line in Westbrook, upstairs from Lenny’s Pub, the joint benefit dinner and concerts continue.
Small said the money is used for upkeep of the Windham Veterans Center, which houses both the American Legion and the VFW. In the last few years, the parking lot has been paved, and a new hood for over the stove was purchased for the kitchen. The current need is between $15,000-$20,000 for a new heating system, Small said. “We’d like to get a lot of people coming out to support it,” he added.
The benefit will be held on October 29th at the Windham Veterans Center. The bean supper will begin at 5 p.m, with the concert starting at 7 p.m. Cost is $8 for the supper, $10 for the concert, and $15 for a combination ticket to both events.