Seth Gallant undams songwriting

SETH GALLANT PLAYS his guitar at home. This Saturday his band, Oble Varnum, will be among the many musicians performing at the Third Annual Dam Jam in Denmark. (Photo courtesy of Seth Gallant)

SETH GALLANT PLAYS his guitar at home. This Saturday his band, Oble Varnum, will be among the many musicians performing at the Third Annual Dam Jam in Denmark. (Photo courtesy of Seth Gallant)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — This winter, Seth Gallant experienced a musical epiphany.

More accurately, he spent his wintery weekends hibernating between music sheets with his guitar.

After a few years of not playing his instrument in public or belonging to a band, Gallant felt inspired by the songs of some New England musicians with whom he used to perform.

“When I lived in Vermont, it was a big part of what I did there. I always had a day job. But, music was a big part of my life: Playing in bands and in bars and stuff,” Gallant said.

“It was also a bit of an extra income,” he said.

Prior to Vermont, Gallant went to college in Montana where his guitar skills improved; and his non-academic life revolved around friends who liked to play music.

“When we moved to Maine, I was kind of burned out so I wasn’t jumping to get things going again,” he said.

“This winter, I started to hear friends’ music on the Internet. It was inspiring,” he said.

“Then, a friend sent a CD he had recorded. After I listened to it, I said, ‘Oh my, gosh, this is great. I should be doing this,’” he said.

As things worked out, both the season and his energy level were conducive to some successful songwriting.

After all, a lot of his physical energy was spent doing his day job.

“Doing carpentry can be demanding, and being outside all the time. So, Saturday morning would come around, and I would say to myself, ‘I don’t want to go outside today,’ ” Gallant said.

“I think part of it was me just wanting to have an outlet outside of working every day,” he said.

Compared to the earlier songs he had written and recorded in his home and put on his website, these new songs are more upbeat and energetic, Gallant said.

The recently-written songs are the ones that his band, Oble Varnum, will be performing at the Third Annual Dam Jam in Denmark on Saturday.

What does Oble Varnum mean?

“It doesn’t mean anything. It was the name of someone my parents knew — I liked the sound of it,” Gallant said.

There are three other band members: Zack Pomerleau as the drummer; Peter Herman on the stand-up bass; and Frank Tutweiler playing the guitar. With the exception of Gallant, all of the musicians are connected with the jazz program at the University of Maine (UM) in Augusta.

“This is going to be the first live show with this group,” Gallant said.

After he had compiled some songs, Gallant started looking for people to play the music. He came across the music majors after placing advertisements on the Internet, he said.

Gallant is eager to get an audience response to the live music.

In contrast to the songs previously played in public, these songs are “more accessable, more listener-friendly,” he said.

Most of the songs have a country music influence; and it those very tunes that the band plans to record in a studio this autumn.

“They’re more poppy, more fun,” he said.

This Saturday’s Dam Jam should be a lot of fun, too, he said.

Gallant, more or less, got his band on the invite list in Denmark. One day, he drove by the Denmark Arts Center while an event was taking place inside. He thought it was interesting.

“There are a lot of things like the Denmark Arts Center in Western Maine — hidden gems in neat little communities,” he said.

Later on, he used the arts center’s website to contact the directors. He figured the Dam Jam would be a great venue for his folk-country music; and, it was a date.

Gallant grew up in Maine in a very musically inclined family.

“I’ve been playing the guitar since I was 10 or 12 years old. I have a lot of musicians in my family. My dad’s brother is a singer-songwriter,” he said.

“My dad had a guitar, and he gave that to me,” he said.

“I was just always into country — as a kid. I tried to learn the Beetles because I liked them. It was hard, but I stuck with playing and that was the biggest thing,” he said.



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