The Maes: Sisters share strong bond, love of music

SONGSTRESSES: Elsie and Maggie Rigby of The Maes will be performing their contemporary Australian folk at the Candelo Town Hall on Sunday.

SONGSTRESSES: Elsie and Maggie Rigby of The Maes will be performing their contemporary Australian folk at the Candelo Town Hall on Sunday.

One of Maggie Rigby's earliest memories of experiencing music alongside her sister Elsie is when they were children, singing songs in the car with their mother.

"Apparently that was one of the best ways to get us not to argue in the car!" the 27-year-old laughed.

Fast-forward about a couple of decades and the sisters now lead their successful contemporary Australian folk band The Maes and released a new self-titled album earlier this year.

The two share a strong bond, evident by the fact Maggie has never been in a band without her sister.

"We have a lot of the same reference points, a lot of the same values, a lot of the same experiences," she said.

"We have a very intuitive sense of the other person. It does have it's challenges, as does any relationship with anyone else."

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While both sing she plays banjo and guitar and Elsie covers fiddle and mandolin duties, and she said the two were very close musically which helped to make the band so enjoyable.

"But we're very different as well and bring very different perspectives," Maggie said.

"We've got very different musical ideas and I really like that too."

Originally from Central Victoria and now based in Melbourne, she and her 25-year-old sister were raised on folk music.

"Australian folk music in particular is a really cool melting pot of folk music from all different places," she said.

"I find it really freeing that we can be a product of our influences and the music we heard growing up.

"I think we have this wonderful thing that happens to us: whenever we're in the UK we get described as an Americana band, then when we go to America we get described as a Celtic band!

"So it's not a true depiction of any folk genre, rather the scene we grew up in."

But more-so than being influenced by mainstream artists, the sisters' parents were musicians themselves so the two grew up hearing their parents' friends and others singing in groups around campfires.

Maggie and Elsie Rigby of The Maes.

Maggie and Elsie Rigby of The Maes.

In fact, both were side of stage at their first folk festival when they were only four weeks old.

They are not alone with their life-long love of folk, as Maggie said it was still a style very relevant to the 21st Century.

"I think it is music that is about community and about participation and about inclusivity, and I think that's so relevant to these times we are in now," she said.

"People are craving stuff that is real and small scale, and you don't need your internet or phone to interact with."

She said there was a move in Australia towards greater participation when it came to music.

"I think folk music can offer that in a way classical music or other formal styles of music can't really offer in the same way," she said.

The Maes will perform at the Candelo Town Hall, Candelo on Sunday, June 30. Doors open at 1pm for a bar and food, then the band will start at 3pm.

This is the Candelo Arts Society members' soiree so members entry is free, otherwise tickets are $20.