CARTHAGE — Life in an out-of-the-way place carries universal import, and people everywhere seem to understand what David Mallett’s songs are about. Although rooted in place, they speak to the essential things that move us all. If you grow up in a small rural town, as Mallett did, you can’t help but learn its stories. He knows about the people who shouldn’t have stayed, but did, and those who shouldn’t have left, but did. He knows the factory work, the fieldwork, the memories of summer dances, the loves and losses, and the stunning incidents of courage and despair.

Sunday, Aug. 23, the Dave Mallett band will take the stage at 7 p.m. at Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center, courtesy of New England Celtic Arts. This is the third in a series of four Sunday concerts in August at Skye. A preshow jam will start at 6:15 p.m.

By age 10, Mallett was touring with his older brother, Neil, singing at Grange halls and county fairs. In his early 20s, he started his solo career, writing songs and eventually performing them across the United States, Canada and Europe.

His songs have received international acclaim, and one of them, “Garden Song,” has been translated into several languages and is one of America’s most popular folk anthems. Other singers who have recorded Mallett’s songs include Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Hal Ketchum, Pete Seeger and even the Muppets.

he source of this well-traveled music is life in a small town in rural Maine, where there still is a main street, and you can still find old barns and tall trees.

The songs Mallett writes and sings are filled with passion, evocative imagery and a sense of the inevitable passage of time. The loss of American towns and rural landscapes is the subject of many of his songs, as are the issues of wilderness preservation and the struggle of the common man.

When he is not touring, the place where he makes his songs is in his writing room in an old farmhouse with a view across the field and a tintype of his great-great grandfather on the wall. “I like to keep reaching out to touch the past – to connect it with what’s going on now,” Mallett said in a prepared statement. “To me, music is one of the few things that is timeless … human emotion is one continual chain.”

Mallett’s “Midnight on the Water” CD, recorded live at a series of shows along the Maine coast in the summer of 2005, contains 17 of the most memorable songs from his 30-year career. It features the Dave Mallett Band: Mallett on vocals, guitar and harmonica; Mike Burd on bass; and Susan Ramsey on violin and viola.

Mallett’s “The Fable True” CD was released in July of 2007, the 150th anniversary of Henry David Thoreau’s final journey to Maine. Thoreau visited Maine in 1846, 1853 and 1857 and wrote essays on his travels, which were compiled posthumously as “The Maine Woods” in 1864. Mallett reads his favorite passages from “The Maine Woods” and provides an instrumental interpretation of those words, revisiting Thoreau’s impressions of lakes and fishing, moose and mountains, Indians and lumbermen in the Maine woods.

Skye Theater is at 2 Highland Drive off Winter Hill Road and U.S. Route 2. Tickets, $10, will be sold at the door. Call New England Celtic Arts at 562-4445 for reservations.


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