At ages 17 and 14, respectively, Hallee and Kati Pottle have already had an in-depth musical education. Their parents, Michelle and Ken Pottle, are artists and musicians. Their grandparents, Neal and Theresa, started a Friday night bluegrass jam in their Waldo County hometown of Palermo, which is still up and running. So three years ago, when the sisters started their own indie folk trio, Mister Moon, with their friend and fellow musician Rachel Keyes, no one was surprised. Music is in their blood.
“You don’t really think about growing up around music, and then when you kind of sit back and look at everything, you’re like ‘Wow, I really did grow up in a musical family,’” said Hallee Pottle, a senior in high school currently studying at home.
The Pottle sisters write and perform a sweet, light, laid-back blend of bluegrass, folk and occasional jazzy interludes, as can be heard on their album “Some Sweet Soul,” available on Amazon, iTunes and Spotify. They can also be heard at their many performances this summer, including at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 13, with a whole host of other bands at the seventh annual Arootsakoostik Music Festival at Thomas Park in New Sweden; at the Point Afta in Winslow at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 16; and at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, at Steamboat Landing in Belfast, as part of the Belfast Summer Nights concert series.
The three switch off on a variety of instruments, including guitar, violin, banjo, mandolin, ukulele and upright bass, but the backbone of Mister Moon is their bright, clear three-part harmonies, reminiscent of classic country and pop trios from the early and mid-20th century. The day they realized that they sounded really good together was a happy day, indeed.
“With the bluegrass jam, there were always lots of people around, and lots of young people from all over the area, from South China and Unity and Belfast,” said Hallee. “Kati and I were always singing together, but we realized that the three of us had vocal connection after Rachel lived with us for a little while. We were around the house, constantly singing. Our voices blended incredibly well. It just kind of clicked.”
Despite their young age, the trio displays a surprising musical maturity; Hallee Pottle also writes many of their songs, sometimes by herself and sometimes with the help of her bandmates. Their folk and bluegrass chops are already well developed — the Pottle sisters attribute this to not only growing up around bluegrass jams, but also to an early love of progressive bluegrass groups like Nickel Creek, the Cherryholmes, Crooked Still and the Wailin’ Jennies.
“That got me involved from a very young age — I would just think, ‘Oh my gosh, I need to be like these people.’ I’m always striving to be as good as Chris Thile or any of those people,” said the elder Pottle sister, referring to the mandolin player from Nickel Creek.
Hallee Pottle is set to graduate from high school next year, and after that, she thinks she might stick around Maine for a little bit, playing with all the musician friends she’s amassed over the years. Keyes plans to head out and see more of the country, so Mister Moon might revert back to being a duo in the coming months. Not that that will stop the Pottle sisters — after all, music is in the family.