November 12, 2013

Portland's Mallett Brothers Band on the road to stardom

The fall tour, which concludes this week, is the band’s most ambitious yet, with 21 dates since Oct. 6.

By Bob Keyes
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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The Mallett Brothers Band performs Sept. 28 at the Harvest Dance, a benefit for Freeport's Wolf Neck Farm.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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Nate Soule, a guitarist with the Mallet Brothers Band, gets his guitar ready for a gig Friday at The Kraken Bar in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Photos by Jeremy M. Lange/for the Press Herald

Additional Photos Below

It’s the difference between burning out and doing what you love because it’s fun and rewarding.

It’s the difference between juggling jobs between tours and concentrating solely on music.

“When we get back to Portland, we’re going to take a couple-month break from the road. I’m constantly behind the computer screen, pushing to see what’s out there and who will bite. It’s fishing. I think we have pretty good bait, but it’s still fishing,” Soule said. “We’re ready for the next thing.”


Tuesday’s gig in Nashville is important for another reason. The band will share the stage with Luke and Will’s dad, the Maine folksinger and songwriter Dave Mallett. For Dave Mallett, the Bluebird show marks the first time he has headlined in Nashville since he uprooted his family in the 1990s and moved back to Maine to raise his kids.

Luke and Will, ages 30 and 28, respectively, were born in Maine and raised in Nashville. Their folks moved to Nashville in 1986 when their father was making his way as a singer and songwriter. The elder Mallett, who lives in Sebec, is best known for the “Garden Song.” His songs have been recorded by Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and John Denver, among others.

The family moved back to Maine in 1996. Luke was 12 and Will was 10 when they returned north.

Their earliest musical memories are in Nashville. They remember hanging out at the house, where their father entertained a range of Nashville musicians and songwriters. Hal Ketchum was over all the time, Bela Fleck lived down the street. All their childhood friends were children of musicians with similar family stories.

“It was a very musical place, and guitars were always being played,” Will recalled. “I got the bug like my dad. If there is one there, I’ve got to play it.”

The boys were aware that music was the prime directive during the Nashville years, Dave Mallett said. “They were aware of all the instruments and me coming and going to shows, and bringing home wads of cash and them counting it on the couch. ... Those were very busy times. I had a writing room downstairs, and I had writers over all the time. We would sit and write, and the kids would be there. I think for them, it was an assimilation of the whole process. They always traveled to gigs with me throughout, and learned what it takes to focus in and do a show.”

The idea of playing with his father at the Bluebird is “a little surreal,” Will Mallett said. “There’s a few gigs on this trip that I am especially excited for, and the Bluebird is right at the top of the list. I try not to get too excited about this stuff. A gig is a gig. But the Bluebird is going to be great. It’s one of those venues where my dad would always play when we were growing up. So not only are we going to get to play there, but we’re playing with our dad.”

The Bluebird is not a big place. It seats about 90 people but is known as one of the best music clubs in America where songwriters can get exposure for their music.

Dave Mallett is as eager as his boys.

“I don’t think I’ve played the Bluebird in about 18 years, so, yes, I’m excited,” he said.

He had a hand in getting this gig for the band.

He is Facebook friends with the woman who books the club, and sent her a note suggesting she pay attention to the Mallett Brothers Band. She liked what she heard, and offered a gig – to Dave Mallett. “She wrote me back said, ‘You should play the Bluebird and they should open for you,’” Dave Mallett recalled. “So that’s what we’re doing.”

(Continued on page 3)

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Additional Photos

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It’s almost showtime in Chapel Hill, N.C., and the Mallett Brothers Band’s Nick Leen, left, and Will Mallett read Southern Living magazine before going on stage near the end of a grueling six-week tour.

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From left, Nate Soule, Nick Leen, Will and Luke Mallett and Wally Wenzel play at The Kraken.


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