Violinist of the Year / 2023 Wisconsin Area Music Industry Awards (WAMI)

ABOUT Gaines & Wagoner

Based in Madison, WI, the award-winning husband and wife duo of Mary Gaines (cello, guitar, bass, vocals) and Chris Wagoner (violin, mandolins, lapsteel, ukulele, guitar, accordion, vocals) play an eclectic mix of Americana—original and classic tunes ranging from folk to jazz, bluegrass to blues, honky-tonk and a little singer-songwriter on the side.

Let’s just say you happen to walk into a music venue and see a duo playing cello and violin. You’d most likely expect to hear either classical or folk music of some kind, right? But just as you spy the lineup of crazy acoustic and electric stringed instruments of all varieties the duo tears into a tune that combines funky electric fuzz-wah fiddle with thumping pizzicato cello and your assumptions start to crumble. The next tune features old-time duo vocals over the jangle of an acoustic mandolin and guitar followed by a righteous gospel-fired slide-guitar-driven blues and then right into a crooning, heart-stopping jazz ballad. The space in-between the tunes is alternately punctuated by folk-style storytelling and light-hearted riffing with the audience. This is not “one-size-fits-all” music. This is Gaines and Wagoner.

Full Bio Here

"Gaines & Wagoner is professional, prompt, incredibly talented, and created such a great atmosphere and evening for our guests. They have clever setlists, a unique and exceptional stage presence and the performance was both lively and personal. Chris & Mary were a pleasure to work with, flexible and reasonable through the booking process. Simply put, simply wonderful, and I would highly recommend them!!"

-Trisha Lockman / Event Creator and Organizer Lavender Hill Farm, Boyne City, MI

"By all accounts, a live show involving Gaines and Wagoner is a high-wire act of improv chemistry that you’ll only find with people who have been playing (and living) together for decades."

-The Isthmus / June 7, 2018 / Madison, WI by Kiel Majewski

“Chris and Mary are the Swiss Army knives 
of string players!”

-Mark Williams, producer: Southern Culture on the Skids,
Carrie Newcomer, Hootie and the Blowfish

“Multi-instrumentalist Chris Wagoner and his wife
 Mary Gaines are masters of string swing music…
equal parts Hawaiian luau and Parisian wedding
party. The love they bring to their music is as
apparent as the precision with which they make it.”

-Andy Moore, producer of Wisconsin Public Television’s
“30-Minute Music Hour”

”Acoustic jazz that swings hard…
great singing, superb playing.”

-Pelican Cafe Music Review, San Francisco, CA

“Masterful musicians with wonderful
 expressiveness that will leave an impression
on the audience."

-Cuda Cafe, Deerfield, WI

”These folks can play anything, it seems, and they move gracefully through idioms you’d never thought one band could cover in one circuit"

-Jean Greenwood / Lecture and Fine Arts Coordinator
UW-Marathon County, Wausau, WI Concert Series

Madison Area Music Awards

  • MAMA’s Hall of Fame Inductees (2023)
  • Mandolinist of the Year (2023)
  • Cellist of the Year (2023)
  • Cellist of the Year (2022)
  • Violinist of the Year (2022)
  • Overall Instrumentalist of the Year (2022)
  • Cellist of the Year (2021)
  • Violinist of the Year (2021)
  • Cellist of the Year (2020)
  • Mandolinist of the Year (2019)
  • Mandolinist of the Year (2018)
  • Musicnotes Lifetime Musical Achievement Award (2016)
  • Cellist of the Year (2014)
  • Lapsteelist of the Year (2014)
  • Violinist of the Year (2012)
  • Male Vocalist of the Year (2007)
  • Female Vocalist of the Year (2007)
  • Jazz Album of the Year (2007)
  • Unique Song of the Year (2007)

Upcoming Events