New & Noteworthy


Thank you to everyone who turned out to support the student musicians in the 2017 Maine Acoustic Festival!  We had a wonderful turnout for  the Student Showcase at USM’s Hanaford Hall on Sunday, April 2nd.

This year,  43 students from 9 counties participated-our largest festival yet.

And a heartfelt thanks to this year’s coaching team; Hanz Araki (Irish Group) Lauren Rioux (Old-Time Group),  Tony Watt and Laura Orshaw (Bluegrass Group),  Steve Muise (Franco-American Group),  and Brendan Taaffee (Traditional American Harmony Group).

The festival was created by 317 Main and North Yarmouth Academy to foster a love of American roots traditional music in middle and high school students.

Next year’s festival is scheduled for April 6 -8, 2018.  The audition deadline is November 1st, 2018.

Here are a few highlights from MAF 2017.


WHERE WE STAND ON PROPOSED CUTS TO NEA-John Williams, Executive Director

Dear 317 Main Community, 

Normally, I reserve my missives for the quarterly newsletter, but with federal funding for the arts on the chopping block, I am compelled to reach out to you today to share my thoughts about what this could mean for 317 Main Community Music Center as well as other arts and cultural organizations. 

As you probably know by now,  the current administration’s budget proposal calls for the elimination of ALL funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in fiscal year 2018.  

To put things in perspective, the NEA’s slice of the current budget pie is .004%, or less than 1/2 of one hundredth of one percent. So, while the cut would do very little to help balance the federal budget, it could throw things way off balance in rural states such as Maine where a little NEA funding goes a long way.  

According to the Maine Arts Commission, 65% of the NEA’s direct grants go to small arts organizations like 317 Main and nearly half of the MAC’s annual budget is comprised of NEA Partnership grant funds.  

Here’s the trickle down for 317 Main. We received 2 grants from the Maine Arts Commission this year.  An Arts Learning Grant, to support our fiddle partnership program at East End Community school in Portland and a second Creative Aging Grant to support the expansion of our Deep Roots programming for music lovers age 55+.

Why does a string program in a city school or a music lecture series in a retirement community even matter?  To those of us who who are lucky enough to see and hear the transformative power of music every day, we can tell you they matter a great deal because 

  • music turns strangers into friends, 
  • music allows us to think creatively and engage with each other in new ways
  • music helps us put abstract ideas into collective action/movement
  • music creates beauty when and where it’s needed most

As our Music Education Director Chris Moore likes to say, “Music is the superconductor of human connectivity.”

These are important programs that touch many lives.

Here are the action steps we are taking today. 

  • We are reaching out to the members of Maine’s Congressional Delegation to explain why we must strongly defend federal funding for the arts.
  • If you feel the same way, we strongly encourage you to contact the delegation and activate your own friends and neighbors to do the same. Here’s how to take action.   
  • It’s important for all of us to share our stories about how our lives have been touched and improved by access to the arts. In the coming weeks, we’ll be asking you that question in person, but if you’d like to share your story right now, send an email, a short video or a song to our Communications Director Amy Sinclair at Start it off with music matters to me because…

I am grateful to you every day for sharing your music with us. 

Play On!

John Williams
317 Main Executive Director


Asked what she enjoys most about participating in the drum circle, Serenity,  16, answered matter of factly, “I like to hit things.”  And what better way for teens to exorcise tension than by banging out rhythms on  upside down buckets with a pair of drum sticks.

Serenity was one of 14 students taking part in a 9-month program at Wayfinder Schools in New Gloucester-an alternative high school for at risk teens.

The percussion partnership with 317 Main is an annual tradition both organizations look forward to every year.

“It’s such a great outlet for them,” noted Joseph Hufnagel, Wayfinder’s Director of Residential Programs. ‘The biggest thing for me is seeing that they’re all in it together getting their energy out in a positive way.”

This year, the 4 week percussion program was led by experienced drummer Dustin LeVasseur. He and the students took turns leading the group reinforcing the idea of collaboration over competition.

“I liked seeing how we all brought different ideas to the circle,” said Hassan Hussein, 18.



Spün Bakery Owner and Chief Baking Officer Don Gaile showing a a sample of the mouth watering treats that will be available at 317 Main starting on March 27th.


Please join us in welcoming Spün Bakery to the 317 Cafe.  Those of you who sampled Don Gaile’s quality baked goods at the Yarmouth Farmers’ Market last summer know what a coup this is. Don and his staff  offer baked goods, granolas, yogurt parfaits, coffee drinks, teas, cocoa and more.

Hours are 8 am -7 pm Monday-Friday They’re also happy to take your custom orders at 207-417-7097.

We sat down with Don to learn more about his family’s move from NYC to Maine, his passion for baking and the umlaut. 

So….how exactly do we pronounce “Spün?”

It’s pronounced ‘spoon’. I have to give credit to my son, Justin, for the name inspiration. When the bakery was in the planning stages I knew I wanted a one word name that really stood for everything while being playful and fun at the same time. There were a few names we tried but none really felt right. For inspiration we went through the list of menu items. Nothing came to mind until Justin said, “It’s like you can eat everything with a spoon.” Pow! We knew we had the name! The unique spelling was something that came right after. I just felt being obvious wouldn’t be enough. If you notice, the ü looks like a smiley face. That’s another goal of the company – to always put a smile on your face.

Have you always been a baker?

I developed my passion for cooking and baking after I graduated from college and realized I had to feed myself. My first cookbook was The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. I was so inspired by the interesting flavors and recipes.

I spent the first 25 of my post-college professional years working in New York City in all sorts of industries including financial services, advertising & branding, internet marketing, website design & technology and international consulting. I’ve always been lucky enough to follow my passions within those industries. 

I’ve had careers in operations management, training & development, human resources and film & video production. Apartment living in New York City is compact but I always made sure I had a big kitchen! Would you believe I almost always had an eat-in kitchen wherever I lived? That’s a pretty rare thing in New York! 

Having spent all my working life living in New York City I realized my needs and desires had changed and it was time to make a move away from the noise, congestion and hustle of the city to a place where my family could enjoy nature and smaller town living. I knew I couldn’t stay in the career I was in if we moved so I thought seriously about what other passions I had. Well, it was staring me right in the face! So about 2 years before I moved to Freeport I started testing recipes, bringing different treats to work and sending out a lot of food gifts to see the response. I also spent some time with friends in the food industry to get their perspective. Once we moved to Freeport I knew I wanted to start small and take my time to cultivate a following and develop an interesting menu. I started at 3 farmers markets last season and contributing quite a bit to local causes including the Freeport Players Association, Wolfe’s Neck Farm and Freeport Middle School. It was really the perfect way to start things. I had an opportunity to meet so many people, share and hear stories and develop wonderful relationships. 

Why start a cafe?

The cafe is the perfect next step to the farmers’ markets. Partnering with 317 Main makes a lot of sense to me because we are both so passionate about good food. I found the folks in Yarmouth and surrounding communities have a keen appreciation of food that is thoughtfully prepared. They are also open to exploring new things. I can’t tell you how many people didn’t know what babka was but quickly became hooked on it! I’m very interested in community involvement so I’ll be asking for feedback along the way. For example, I have been sampling some of the locally roasted coffees. They are all so good but I’m having a hard time deciding what to do. You’ll have the ability to offer your feedback on your preference. That will help me decide which direction to go in. We’ll also have weekly musically-focused trivia contests with prizes and periodic performances from the faculty and students at 317 Main. 

What do you offer in the cafe?

We offer an assortment of baked goods and special treats. Those include scones, muffins, pastries, cookies, bars, whoopie pies, granola, jams, chutneys, crumb cake, donuts and babka. Plus I will add items that I couldn’t have at the farmers’ markets due to weather and temperature issues. Those items include cakes, cupcakes, custards, yogurt parfaits, local coffees, teas and other beverages. Things will continue to be seasonal taking full advantage of local farms and I’ll also be bringing new and different things to try. When we’re in full swing for the season you can expect a plethora of fruit pies just like last summer! We’ll also accommodate special cake and cupcake orders for celebrations. We will  be partnering with other local vendors to feature their products. That includes local handmade bread, honey, yogurt and cheese. Eventually I would like to expand the menu into more savory items including pressed sandwiches, pot pies and other delicious comfort foods. Let’s just say there is a lot to look forward to!

When will you be open?

We’ll be open Monday through Friday from 8:00am-7:00pm. We anticipate eventually opening earlier for the morning rush folks and weekends too.

Will you share a favorite recipe with us?

One of my favorite things on a cold winter day is a warm mug of hot chocolate. It satisfies my giant sweet tooth and brings back fond childhood memories. Forget that powdered stuff in the envelope. It’s very easy to make your own with good ingredients you can easily find in your pantry or in the market. The addition of the unsweetened chocolate adds tons of chocolate flavor without the added sugar. A kid version of this might be to substitute the dark chocolate for milk chocolate. We’ll definitely be serving these at the cafe!


317 Gallery is pleased to present Refuge, a new series of mixed-media works by artist and illustrator Betsy Thompson of Portland, Maine.

The collection, created over the last 18 months, is an examination of the search for compassion and humanity in our changing world.

“Where do we find refuge?” asks the artist. “How do we create sanctuary for those who are most vulnerable? How do we foster and hold onto hope for ourselves and others in the face of fear?”

The pieces, created on paper and wood panels, document the importance of cultivating and nurturing personal relationships, and the discovery of safe harbor in the sense of home, community, and the larger world.

Thompson is a self-taught, mixed-media artist with a background in education – a B.A. in Child Development and a M.Ed. in Alternative Education. For 25 years she was involved in the field of education in a variety of roles: as a classroom teacher, educational consultant, program evaluator, curriculum developer, and homeschooling parent.

She began her career as an artist and illustrator in 2007, and regularly shows in galleries throughout New England.

317 Gallery invites the public to a reception for the artist on Saturday, March 25th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. The evening will include refreshments and live music from The Cliffhangers, a student group featuring Thompson’s daughter Lily.

The Gallery is located in 317 Main Community Music Center at 317 Main Street in Yarmouth. 40% of proceeds from works sold during the show will be donated to the music center to support broad access to music education.

Gallery hours are 10:00 – 2:00 pm on weekdays. Please contact the front desk at 846-9559 to schedule a visit outside these hours.


Thanks to Kathy Slack and friends for presenting a sweet confection of a NoonTunes concert.  Kathy gathers musical friends for this popular Valentine’s Day show featuring lovely harmonies and great instrumentation.  This year’s collaboration included Kathy on lead vocals, Sarah Potter, Rosita Moore and Lucy Burkette on supporting vocals, Kate-Campbell Strauss on sax, Steve Roy with bass, Neil Lamb on guitar, Ronda Dale with percussion and a cameo from Chris Moore and his mandolin.

Here are few highlights.


A colleague recently shared a piece of writing that I found to be so compelling and consistent with the role that 317 Main has to play in our community that I wanted to pass it along and share it with all of you.

This Keynote Address, Why the Arts Must Be at the Table, by Rip Rapson, CEO and President of the Kresge Foundation, emphasizes the critical role of arts and culture, including:

  • The power to fortify bedrock community values;
  • The potential to shape the civic landscape;
  • and The ability to drive creative placemaking and imbue a location with meaning and significance

I hope you will take a few minutes to read the full Keynote Address and reflect on the impact music has had on your life.

I am grateful to all of you for being part of this powerful force for good!

– John