The Mallett Brothers Band will be performing at the Somerset Abbey on Friday, Jan. 17, and to that end, I decided to reconnect with one of the brothers, Luke Mallett (vocals, acoustic and electric guitar). He is joined by brother Will (vocals, acoustic and electric guitar), Wally (vocals, electric guitar and dobro), Nick Leen (bass), Andrew Martelle (vocals, fiddle, mandolin and guitar), and Brian Higgins (drums ) — the current lineup of the group that came into existence in 2009. The sons of Maine’s legendary singer/songwriter David Mallett have carved out a niche all their own that draws on many influences including rock and roll, country and Americana, but are beholden to no single genre. The last time Luke and I chatted was many years ago — the only frame of reference I have is they had released their third CD, “Land,” so when I gave him a call at his Gorham home, I mentioned that.

Mallett: Yeah, so it’s been a funny ride since then.

Q: How so?
Mallett: Oh, just in general. We just hit our 10-year mark, so that was probably year five — halfway through the ride. But it’s good, it’s been busy and it’s still an awesome thing that we still get to do it. I think it was right about the time — shortly after “Land” came out — was when I left my day job because we ran out of time to do other things about the five-year mark. It’s been good, we’ve managed to keep it going since then … and the gigging has never stopped.

Q: How often do you play out nowadays?
Mallett: We’ve been doing this full time, three or four days a week, all through the year. This is the slowest we’ve been in a long time. December and January we took it a little easy — we played four gigs in December, we’re taking the first two weeks of January off — so it’s nice, we’re getting a little respite at the beginning of the year.

Q: Just out of curiosity, are you pretty well booked for 2020?
Mallett: We’re booked up into like April and working on stuff for May and June, so it moves really fast. We try to stay five or six months ahead of it, at least.

Q: Back to your CD releases — how many since “Land,” which was your third album?
Mallett: We did “Land,” then we did “Lights Along the River” a year to a year-and-a-half after. That was a fun one, we did that at a cabin up in Sebec, Maine — there was boat-access only — we went out there with recording gear for like 10 days and made a record. It was kind of an experiment but it turned into a really fun project and we got a lot of miles out of that record. Then there was about a two-year period where we slowly worked on another project called “The Falling of the Pine” — it was not all originals, it was kind of a historical piece. My brother found a book in my mother’s library that was filled with forgotten logging and trapping songs from the 1800s. So we grabbed a few lyrics, threw the traditional melodies and styles out the window, and turned them all into rock songs. We spent two years working on that in our down time, then it was a year after that we did “Vive L’Acadie” in 2018 — that one we recorded right in Portland — it was a cool record. I feel like it was different than all the other ones. In 2019, we released a live record, “Live in Portland, Maine,” and we recorded it at Port City {Music Hall} just before New Year’s in 2017 .… People have been asking for a live record for a really long time — all our die-hard fans had been asking — so I think we caught a really good show, it all came together really, really well. I think we captured the live show which has been, traditionally for us, hard to do in the studio. We pride ourselves on being a stage band, a touring band, so to catch that energy can sometimes be tough, but it’s always the goal.


Q: Now, the show we are previewing is the one at Somerset Abbey…
Mallett: Yup, up in Madison.

Q: Have you done that venue before?
Mallett: We’ve done it a few times. They bought this old church —it’s really gorgeous with this insane pipe organ upstairs that’s been restored — but they do shows in the summertime out in a giant tent that comes off the backside of the church. We’ve done that a few times, and I think this winter we’re going to do it inside, so we’re doing a slightly smaller show inside upstairs in the place. It’s turned into a cool gig and it’s not far from where me and Will grew up, either, which makes it kind of fun. It’s a super-easy drive over for our folks, and I drove past that church every week when I was going to school — that was my route from Dover to Farmington.

Q: You sound very satisfied and comfortable with the stage of your band’s career now.
Mallett: I think it’s kind of part of the business model that we all signed up for — we’re a touring band, we’re not necessarily going to hit a Top 40 situation and make a ton of money, but you can build a fan base and build enough markets and make sure people want to come back and see you again, and you can make it sustainable that way. We saw that growing up, definitely — we got to see it in action because our dad never did anything else — so it was a very plausible suggestion for us to just dive into this headlong and see what happens. We haven’t starved yet so were doing just fine.

Q: You’re just keeping the family tradition alive, it would seem.
Mallett: Yeah.

Q: Is there anything, Luke, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Mallett: Just that there’s new stuff in the works — we’re not setting any dates, but we’ve got a lot of new songs in the works and we’ve been playing a lot of them live, and we’ve been doing a lot of recording … and our schedule will be just as busy as ever (laughter). So the best thing people can do, I think, is come out and see us live somewhere — that’s really where we want to be is onstage!

Lucky Clark has spent over 50 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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