AAA header


Joan Grauman Morse, AAA Historian As the organization’s historian, I have been writing historical articles on events that led up to the creation of the AAA and were important for the AAA. This includes some of its influential members, as well as special events throughout the decades, and more.
Joan Grauman Morse, AAA Historian

Catching Up With “Creosote”

Originally published July 1st, 2020 in the AccordionUSA News.

The exciting accordion duo of Gabe Hall-Rodriques and Jamie Maschler

It was in early February when I had a long and enjoyable phone interview with Gabe Hall-Rodriques and Jamie Maschler. We stay in touch often and I love hearing of their many incredible musical projects, concerts and workshops held worldwide. It was time to do another of my feature articles, and I wanted it to be about this delightful couple who chose the name “Creosote” for their duo, after the fragrant Creosote bush.

As I prepared to put the article together in early March, the coronavirus changed everything for musicians throughout the world. The article was put on hold as we all learned to live with our new (and hopefully short-lived!) restrictions. My article’s main focus had to suddenly drastically change, however I am pleased to report that Gabe and Jamie are doing very well and thriving with their online concerts and workshops, teaching virtually, creating and learning new music, and working at Petosa Accordions in Seattle, Washington. More on their current projects later in this article! Time to tell you more about these two gifted musicians who met through their love of the accordion

Jamie Maschler began to play the accordion at the age of four, thanks to a door to door salesman. Jamie happily says, “The accordion chose me!” Although this may be true, she was instantly enamored with her new instrument and began to study privately with the renowned accordionists and teachers, Dan and Kim Christian, in Colorado Springs. She studied with them throughout her youth. I spoke with Kim Christian: “As young as she was, Jamie took to the music right away. She pretty much grew up with our daughters competing and playing together in bands. Jamie always loved music and always loved performing. She won many, many trophies over the 12 years she took lessons with us!”
Jamie and her family at Christmas time. Young Jamie

Jamie knew early on that she would major in music. After a year at Denver University, she transferred to the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington to study accordion under three-time Latin Grammy nominee Jovino Santos Neto. Neto, a well-respected Brazilian jazz pianist, inspired her love for Brazilian music and culture.

Seattle is the home of Petosa Accordions where Jamie has worked since 2011. There, “she is able to share her passion and actively participate in the reinvention and face of the traditional instrument”. Jamie also performs with a forró band, EnCanto, and is a frequent guest performer and presenter of workshops on stylized Brazilian and tango music at numerous festivals, including the AAA Festival in Princeton, New Jersey in 2017. She has played with the Seattle Symphony, Port Angeles Symphony, Lake Union Orchestra and the Pueblo Symphony. It was in Seattle, at Petosa Accordions, where she met accordionist and Arizona native, Gabe Hall-Rodrigues.

Like Jamie, Gabe’s lifelong love affair with “all things music” began around the age of four. By five, Gabe was certain that he was going to become an opera singer! In his family’s home in Phoenix, Arizona, Gabe loved listening to his uncle play piano, and his mother sing and play the piano and guitar. “I was always musically supported by my family”, says Gabe. He started with piano lessons at age seven. “My teacher was perfect for me as he allowed me to play by ear as well as with music”. He studied with the same teacher from age 7 to 18. In school, he sang in the choirs and played baritone saxophone in the band.
Gabe musical performances started very young! Gabe and his baritone sax at a school Halloween performance.

Gabe attended Arizona State University (ASU) where he received his bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy in 2011 and his master’s degree in Jazz Piano Performance in 2013. He studied under the award-winning pianist and composer, Mike Kocour.

One fateful day, Gabe was sitting outside at ASU playing an old accordion someone had just given him. His good friend since middle school, percussionist Wes Anderson, saw him and told him about the Frank Marocco Accordion Event, the annual camp that I co-directed from 2007 to 2014 in Mesa, Arizona every winter. Wes had been our amazing percussionist at the camp since he was 18 years old. Gabe came to our accordion orchestra concert that year at the encouragement of Wes. It was January, 2009. I was introduced to Gabe at the end of the concert and was so impressed by this well-spoken young man whose interest in the accordion was so genuine! By the end of that evening, Gabe was introduced to celebrated accordion teacher Ilmar Kuljus, with whom he began his studies. Also, Gabe was invited to join our camp the following winter by another person who was very impressed with him: the world renowned jazz accordionist, Frank Marocco.

Frank Marocco performing at the Frank Marocco Accordion Event 2010 with Gabe.

The following January, at our 2010 camp, Gabe was “adopted” by all of us! He was playing incredibly well and his enthusiasm for the accordion was infectious. I spoke with Ilmar Kuljus the other day about his lessons with Gabe. “He was an excellent student, always prepared for each lesson, so eager to learn, and I recognized a tremendous amount of natural talent in him immediately”. In Gabe’s words, Ilmar taught him to “slow down and practice well”. That summer, Gabe competed and won the title of 2010 AAA Virtuoso Accordion Champion, a very prestigious annual national award, at the AAA Festival in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He has presented workshops at various accordion festivals ever since, and performed at the 2011 AAA Festival in Charleston, South Carolina with his jazz trio “Ocotrillo” (named for another bush, the Ocotillo!).

Gabe performing on the Gazebo at the Leavenworth Accordion Festival 2017.

Gabe taught in the Arizona school system and at a private school for ten years, spent a year in Recife, Brazil where he studied Brazilian music and performed with local musicians, and toured the US with the folk rock band “Jared and the Mill” as their accordionist.

While in Seattle touring with Jared and the Mill, he visited Petosa Accordions, and he met Jamie. Both loved Brazilian music and Jamie invited Gabe to open for her band EnCanto. This was the start of a terrific musical collaboration and….they fell in love.

Their duo “Creosote” has been a wonderful outlet for this virtuosic and exciting duo. It features fresh, new Brazilian pieces and world music classics. When not performing in the US and abroad, both work “with their extended family, the Petosas” at Petosa Accordions. Between the two of them, they teach about 30 private students. They have released their first album together and were planning another album this summer in collaboration with musicians from Brazil. Sadly, their travel plans were abruptly halted because of COVID-19.

Picture from one of their virtual video performances in June 2020.

In isolation together, Gabe and Jamie have been streaming live concerts, which have been a challenge, yet it has been a great way for them to stay connected with friends and colleagues near and far. They have recorded, separately and together, and they are working on “a ton of new original music and arrangements” that they will be recording soon.

Kim and Dan Christian are so happy that Jamie has found a partner who also loves and plays the accordion. “There is nothing like sharing your life’s passion with the one you love!”, Kim said. And she knows that well: she and Dan have been married and duet partners for 37 years.

I will conclude with Jamie’s inspiring words about this strange time we are all experiencing right now:

“As you can imagine, all concerts in person for the foreseeable future have been cancelled and the current economic situation has affected the music industry for years to come. Between venues not being able to stay open, potentially not being able to pay musicians, and the uncertainty of future travel, it seems like the challenge of learning some new techniques and technology is going to be worthwhile…….It’s not ideal, it’s not preferred, but art and music will continue no matter what. Change is inevitable and there is no going backwards. The great thing is that, if people are able to capture and share their art more easily, they can more easily discover new artists, music, teachers, and get inspired. That’s one of the powers of art and music, it always finds a way.

Gabe and I hope everyone reading this is taking care of their physical, mental and emotional health. Be kind to others and yourself. We are all in uncharted territory. It’s not forever, just for now.”