Lucky 0216 Dave Mallett will take the stage at Somerset Abbey in Madison

David Mallett Denise Maccaferri Photography

I’ve had the pleasure and honor of chatting with Maine’s Dave Mallett over the years and the singer-songwriter-guitarist never fails to give great interviews that are as honest and grounded as his music. So when I heard he was coming to Somerset Abbey on the 26th of this month, I held out my hand to see if he was willing to speak to me one more time, and he was more than happy to oblige. Seeing that it had been a while since our last conversation, I started by asking him how he’s been these days.
Mallet: Well, with COVID, it’s been quite a ride. But most of the time I just kept the fire going and tried not to go to town too much – and listened to old music (laughs).

Q: Are you writing anything new?
Mallet: I haven’t written anything new. My mind is kinda full of all the things I’ve written in the past, and I’m trying to decipher whether they were good or not (laughs). When I understand that, maybe I’ll write new things.

Q: When this all started almost two years ago, I contacted some of the people I had interviewed in the past and many of them, unlike you, took the time to be out of the road and worked on new material. I guess everyone handles it differently.
Mallet: Wow, that’s admirable. I’m envious of these guys. I can not do it. The other day, actually, I had a little inspiration and I thought I should write it, and then something else happened, you know? But boys, I’m really happy with the boys {The Mallett Brothers Band}, they wrote a great record and put it out, and now they’re working on some new stuff. Most of the time, I’m just biding my time, booking a few shows for spring and summer, and (laughs) wondering what’s going to happen to all of this, you know? I’m not a real extrovert; Most of the time my connection with my fellow human beings is when I go out and sing for them, and it’s kind of hard not being able to do that like we always have. But I think we are looking at a better year than last year.

Q: Well, it looks like this new variant is more contagious but less potent, and I heard that the east coast is going down while the west coast is going up in strength, maybe it will die out, if we we are lucky.
Mallet: I’ve had little premonitions over the years and the last one I had was so profound: I was walking up the road here a few years ago. I thought, “Whoa, a lot of people are going to die, there’s going to be a lot of sadness, and there’s going to be a great need for forgiveness. Those three things kind of struck me, and that was February 2020, and March 5th I was in Portland at this big event, and March 7th I was in New Hampshire for a show , then on March 8, we came home and everything stopped . I lost all of my 2020 and most of 2021, actually the summer was pretty good last year. Of course, I’m old enough to slow down a bit anyway. I’m 70 now. I don’t need to go on the road to prove myself.

Q: No, sir, you certainly don’t, that’s for sure.
Mallet: And I also play a lot of guitar, I have a bunch of old guitars, different types, and I’ve been pulling out trying to find something. There’s a saying, “Every guitar has a different song.” So that’s what I’m doing now and I’m looking forward to doing some gigs. My first show is at Somerset Abbey in Madison, then I’m out of state in April and have some great outdoor activities this summer.

Q: And that’s a solution to the COVID problem — outdoor shows where you can social distance and not breathe the same air in a confined space.
Mallet: I’m supposed to go to Virginia in April and I’m like, “Hey, April in Virginia, it’s pretty hot, so we’re going to open all the doors and windows!” It’s in a big, old church so I think it’ll be a bit like an outdoor concert. I still go there once in a while, I go to Virginia and DC and do stuff, but it’s been a few years.

Q: I can imagine you can’t wait to get back on the road, can’t you?
Mallet: I like to play. I think the healthiest thing I do is get on stage and sing. It’s a cardiovascular explosion for me. The best exercise I ever had was yelling at people on stage (laughs).

Q: (Laughs) And at this point, I’m sure it’s a bit cathartic for you as well.
Mallet: Yes. And you know, Lucky, at the end of it, we’re going to come back from this one, and hopefully we’ll come back a little more enlightened and cooperative.

Q: Yeah, we can hope for sure.
Mallet: Yeah.

Q: And then earlier when you mentioned your sons, Luke and Will, did I detect a certain note of parental pride there?
Mallet: Yeah yeah. It’s hard to describe, all I can say is that it’s like the kid taking over the family farm, only it’s different because it’s more reckless in a way.

Q: How so?
Mallet: For my sons to say, “Okay, we’re musicians, we go out there and do it!” It’s like, whoa, okay, I always knew they had that kind of je-ne-sais-quoi… they just like people. I tell them and I tell the people I’m trying to describe my sons’ band to: I say, “They bring out the best in people, they bring people together in such a joyful way through the rhythms, the tone and the attitude and the players they work with. It’s an experience I didn’t expect, it’s a rock band and it’s pretty cool.

Q: Is there anything, Dave, you would like me to pass on to people reading this article?
Mallet: I just can’t wait to go back. I’ve spent about 60 years putting together these tracks, some of which go back 60 years, and I can’t wait to get out there and sing them again. And I feel like music is what brings us together more than anything else. You can have a movie, a lot of people go to the cinema or they stay home and they watch it there, or you can have a book and people can read that book at home; you can have a concert and everyone comes, and it’s a delicate thing, a shared experience. And I hope people will leave it better than before they came.

Lucky Clark, winner of the 2018 “Keeping the Blues Alive” award, has spent more than 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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