On Friday, Feb. 15, Johnson Hall in Gardiner will host a concert featuring the Colwell Brothers and their band. These two popular Maine musicians have been doing their thing for many years now and have recently released a brand new CD titled “Guilty Pleasures” which is made up of six original tunes (written by the brothers) and four covers by the likes of Chuck Berry, Lieber and Stoller, Johnny Bristol and Don Covay. In a recent telephone interview from his office in Auburn, Pat Colwell chatted about his brother, Bob, their musical history as well as their newest album … which was the first topic of the conversation.

Q: This is your second album, correct?

Colwell: Yes, it is the second one, in recent history — there were others back in the old days but those are no longer available — they’re vinyl and the masters have disappeared. But, yeah, this is our second album of this go-around — it’s really fun, and Bobby and I are just having a ball working together.

Q: Just how far back to you guys go when it comes to making music together?

Colwell: Well, when the original Colwell Brothers Band started up was in 1979 and went into the early 80s. We were both a lot younger and a lot more volatile and brothers can be hard in bands, you know, and we agreed to just split it up. My brother went on to work with The Inspectors and then the Boneheads, and I went on to work with The Radiators, then I got sidetracked with a little career in politics.

Q: You did that for a while, too, right?

Colwell: I was in the Maine Legislature for eight years — got to be Majority Leader and then Speaker for one term — but you know it really prepared me for what we’re doing now musically because if politics doesn’t give you the blues then nothing will! I earned my blues legitimately.

Q: Looking at the current state of affairs in Augusta now, do you feel you made the right decision of going back to music?

Colwell: I definitely feel like I made the right choice although there’s an awful lot of material there to work with — I would’ve been having a lot of fun, I think.

Q: Well, to be honest, this new album of yours is a lot of fun, too.

Colwell: Well, thank you. Bob and I really wanted to try to capture the excitement and the fun of our live performances and I feel really good about it. Bobby, when we started off, said, “I really want to keep the living room in this record,” — the vocals were almost all first or second takes and a lot of the instrumental work was, as well — we tried to keep it live like you would on an old record. That’s our guilty pleasure: We love that old-school stuff, and we wanted to make it sound like that.

Q: So this really is an aptly-titled album

Colwell: It is, because our guilty pleasures are our roots. I mean, we’re so roots-y we just dig these things up and leave the dirt right on them! When we were growing up our dad — who was just a great singer himself — was listening to Hank Williams, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bobby Bland and Dave Brubeck, he just loved listening to real music … so we grew up listening to it, too.

Q: Now the focus of this interview is on your Johnson Hall show.

Colwell: Well, Gardiner is our hometown and we wanted to do a special show there and a lot of people wanted us to bring one down there, so it’s kind of like bringing it back home for us.

Q: What is going to be the line up for that gig?

Colwell: It’s going to be the band which is Bob and I and Justin Maxwell on bass guitar, Dicky “Doo” Hollis is the drummer and then the fabulous “Doctor” Dave Wakefield on saxophone and harp. We may get a guest appearance in there, who knows? You never know who’s going to show up at a Colwell Brothers concert! But we’ll have the five-piece — the main band — that was on the record … that’s our band.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Colwell: Well, just that I’d like to thank all of our fans for keeping up, going and forcing us to make these records (laugh)–there’s more “guilty pleasures” to come!

Lucky Clark has spent over four decades writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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