Mallett Brothers tap St. John Valley drummer to join band

Fort Kent native Chuck Gagne jamming with The Mallett Brothers Band at the group's Friday, Feb. 3 show at The Warehouse Bar and Grill in Caribou. (Don Eno | SJVT/FhF)

Fort Kent native Chuck Gagne jamming with The Mallett Brothers Band at the group’s Friday, Feb. 3 show at The Warehouse Bar and Grill in Caribou. (Don Eno | SJVT/FhF)

FORT KENT, Maine — Portland-based musician and St. John Valley native Chuck Gagne has been in the music business for quite some time. Having played in several bands, and jammed on stage with countless other musicians, the 33-year-old multi-talented drummer and singer recently got an opportunity to join one of Maine’s best known groups.

“Our previous drummer decided to leave the band for love,” Will Mallett of The Mallett Brothers Band said with a laugh during a recent telephone call. “Chuck had a solid reputation as drummer. He is a great fit with the band.”

It was just after New Year’s when Gagne got the call. Within days the Fort Kent musician was rehearsing with the band, which already had a full list of shows lined up into the first part of the year.

“We were instantly having a blast with Chuck,” Mallett said Friday night, Feb. 3 during a break from the band’s appearance at The Warehouse Bar and Grill in Caribou. “Our first gig with him was at Sugarloaf.”

With just four rehearsals before that show to learn not only Mallett originals, but also tracks from the band’s new collection of traditional Maine folks songs, Gagne had to learn several new tunes at each session.

“That was the most amount of songs I ever learned in such a short period of time,” Gagne said.

Gagne has been a part of the Portland music scene for the better part of a decade and has often played the same venues as the Malletts, although he does not recall ever having a chance to join them on stage.

While Gagne has played on several studio albums as part of Dominic and Lucid, his love of playing on stage with fellow musicians has always been a favorite part of the business.

“Getting to continue to play live; that’s great,” Gagne said Friday night.

On stage, Gagne is a natural fit with The Mallett Brothers, whose mix of folk, rock, alternative country and jam band styles clearly links them to their rural Maine roots. Will and his brother Luke are the sons of well known Maine singer/songwriter David Mallett.

The Mallett Brothers Band, formed in 2009, recently released its fifth album, “The Falling of the Pine”. The group has played on stage with the like of The Allman Brothers, Toby Keith, Charlie Daniels and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Those gathered for the band’s show at The Warehouse in Caribou were not disappointed. Gange and his bandmates had the crowd swaying and singing.

The group, which also includes “Wally” on dobro and guitar, Nick Leen on bass and Andrew Martelle on mandolin and fiddle, regularly plays 150 shows or more a year. This winter and spring the band is traveling throughout New England and then to Pennsylvania, New York, Tennessee and Virginia.

“We have a blast everywhere we go,” Will Mallett said.

Gagne is the youngest of three artistic siblings. His brother Corey is a professional actor in Portland, and is also a stage director, singer and drummer. He also narrates audiobooks. Gagne’s sister Cassie creates jewelry in her spare time.

Gagne’s father, Steff, readily admits his three children likely get their artistic genes from their mother Diane.

In 2003 Chuck Gagne joined fellow St. John Valley natives, Dominic Lavoie and Nate Cyr to create Dominic and the Lucid. That band, which last recorded an album in 2016, gained a wide following around Maine and New England.

Although Gagne’s new spot with the Malletts means a nearly constant schedule of gigs, he doesn’t dismiss playing with his old mates again some day.

“Playing music with your friends never gets old,” he said.

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