Elly Vaughan A transplant from eastern Mass, Ellie now lives in the Pioneer Valley. Her origins in musicianship are as a guitarist and mandolin player. After finding a fiddle in the trash in suburbia, she fell in love with the instrument. She has a passion for Celtic music, though her fiddle playing is influenced by old-time American folk music as well. Ellie is known for her unique style of playing right-handed instruments in a left-handed fashion. She owns and operates Phoenix Fruit Farm in Belchertown, MA, and one might say she likes it “rugged and raw”.
Josh Gajda A native of western Massachusetts, Josh grew up with a love of folk, Celtic, and alternative music that eventually led him to Below the Gaff. Mainly a guitarist, he is a collector of “things with strings” and also plays dulcimer, bass, mandolin, and ukulele (to varying levels of skill). With a degree in graphic design and multimedia Josh serves as the band designer and occasional sound engineer. Josh has loads of fun playing music and wants to share that excitement with audiences
Raised by a musically eclectic family in Connecticut, Talya played several instruments from when she was young until she found the one instrument which truly spoke to her, the bass. She has played in everything from classical orchestras to rock bands. Although currently working as a TA at Hilltown Charter School, Talya holds a Master of Arts degree in English and likes to think of herself as a writer. Armed with her favorite bass, Old Stinky, Talya wants to make sure the audience not only hears the music but feels it too.
Whitt Smith Hailing from western Massachusetts, Whitt played various instruments since she was 5 years old. Her love of the sea, pirates, Celtic music and performing helped influence her to start Below the Gaff. She is a full-time luthier, repairing and building stringed instruments.
Yet another UMass graduate from Eastern Mass who fell in love with the valley, and never left. Not long after being hired as the Assistant Grower on Elly’s fruit farm, she started regularly getting together with Elly and other musicians, and rediscovered her love for her violin. Because she has classically trained on her violin for 10+ years, she was able to pick up the mandolin quickly, making for a smooth transition into becoming a member of Below the Gaff.