Folksinger/songwriter David Mallett is one of Maine’s greatest musical treasures. His songs are home-grown and deeply reflect the pulse and spirit of our wonderful state. From the hugely popular “Garden Song,” which has been performed by such artists such as Pete Seeger and John Denver & The Muppets, through 14 albums to his latest release “Celebration,” Mallett has moved audiences world-wide over the four decades of his career. His two sons, Luke and Will, have their own group aptly called The Mallett Brothers Band and are enjoying a groundswell of popularity with three CDs of their own. All told, things are going very well for the soft-spoken David Mallett. In a recent telephone interview from his home in Sebec, Mallett chatted about his illustrious career, his life and the upcoming show at the UU Coffeehouse on Aug. 18.

Q: How’s it going?

Mallett: Actually, the shows are good. I don’t do a lot of shows but I do nice ones and I write a record whenever I feel I absolutely have to; it’s been a couple of years now. But mostly I just enjoy perfecting my old songs and trying to do different stuff with them. I’m going to my boys’ shows and watching them grow and all that.

Q: Did you have to encourage them to follow in your footsteps, musically speaking?

Mallett: Oh no, not at all. They always had guitars kicking around and then they kind of got together one day and started jamming on acoustic guitars This was when they were in their 20s. It’s pretty cool.

Q: Yeah, to say the least. Proud daddy, I would imagine.


Mallett: Oh yeah, it’s great. You know, it’s an interesting life: you live like a farmer, some years you have good seasons and some years you don’t and you’ve got to always come up with something new to keep things interesting. It’s a challenge but there’s nobody else I’d rather be, you know? Maybe a little smarter would be good (chuckle).

Q: Oh, we could all use that. Just out of curiosity, how did your latest CD come to be?

Mallett: Well, I hadn’t written anything in a while and I came up with the songs for “Celebration” over about a year-and-a-half, two-year period. I started writing new songs in Machias one day when I was snowed in and I was in a motel. I came up with that song “Ring For You,” which I wrote for my son’s wedding. I got my other boy to help me write it, and from then on I was up and running. Then I wrote nine more songs and recorded “Celebration” in 2015. I’m kind of due for something else pretty soon.

Q: I was going to ask about the possibility of a new CD coming out because, like you said, that was a few years ago.

Mallett: It was a great record though, man, I tell ya. Each time I do it I get a little more real, you know?

Q: Yeah, and it comes through the songs very clearly. I have to ask, does songwriting come easier to you now seeing you’ve been at it for so long?


Mallett: Umm, ‘easy’ is not the word. It’s less impulsive and more methodical, you know what I mean? It’s never easy, but I enjoy it. I particularly enjoy writing tunes with my boys when they’re around and shaking things up. I’ve written I think 15 albums work of songs over the last 40 years. I’ve probably got a couple more in me, maybe.

Q: Well, I for one certainly hope so. Are you working on something new, perchance?

Mallett: No, I’m just starting to think about some melodies and I’ve got my eye on a new guitar, that always helps (chuckle). One year I started playing a mandolin. It was in the wintertime and I just started noodling on it, which I’d never played before, and from that came a couple of songs just from like jumping around on the mandolin. I really didn’t know what I was doing, but it kind of helps. It’s almost like using a different fishing pole for a change (laughter) or a different lure or fly.

Q: Now you mentioned that you were thinking about some melodies. Do you get the melody before you put words to it?

Mallett: They always come simultaneously and sometimes I’ll have one or the other first, but usually when I sit down and start playing they kind of come together, you know? It’s always different, I’ve had dreams and in the dreams someone is singing a song to me and that’s sometimes how it works, too. You know, I consider myself to be so fortunate to be able to be a musician in the late 20th and the early 21st century living in Maine and traveling this landscape and singing to these people — that’s like my thing. I go out of state a few times every year, I go to Seattle, Texas, Florida and Chicago, but I prefer working in Maine where I can park my car for free: kind of a joke, but deadly serious (chuckle).

Q: Is there anything, David, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article about your upcoming show in Waterville?

Mallett: I have a wonderful band, they’re all from Maine. In fact, everything I do is kind of based in Maine. My players are all from Maine and I make my records in Maine. At this show I’ll have a four-piece band behind me. Actually for all my Maine shows I take a band with me because it’s a little more, oh, what’s the word, elegant for me and I get to cruise and sing and let them do the hard work. And that’s going to be a nice time. I haven’t been in Waterville in a long time and I’ll be doing a whole bunch of old tunes and a whole bunch of new ones.

Lucky Clark has spent 49 years 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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