Mellow Endeavor
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Mellow Endeavor

Houlton, Maine, United States | SELF

Houlton, Maine, United States | SELF
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"VIDEO footage of our appearance on WVII/WFVX televisions "Acoustic Sunrise" segment."

Link to youtube video. - WVII ABC 7 and WFVX FOX Bangor


"VIDEO footage of our appearance on "The Nite Show with Danny Cashman""

Lady of the Forest - The Nite Show with Danny Cashman


"Mellow endeavor - acoustic jam trio makes bold moves"

When Jason Howe of Houlton heard the news that he was going to be a father of twins, he took care of the necessary preparations and formed a band with a childhood friend at the same time. This “rock dad” likes to keep busy.

Howe, of popular acoustic jam-rock band Mellow Endeavor, spoke with me last week after putting his boys down for a nap. In addition to the babies, age 11 months, Howe and his girlfriend Danielle also have a 5-year old. Jason told me that he loves being a stay-at-home dad while continuing to work on Mellow Endeavor business. “It’s a full time job with twins and a five year old,” he said “But I still manage to put about 30 hours a week into the band making contacts, answering email and booking shows.”

Since forming in 2010, Mellow Endeavor has become one of the hardest working bands in Maine. “Originally, we were thinking we would be doing one show a month. We had no idea how quickly things were going to take off,” Howe said. In finest jam-band tradition, word of mouth has been their best advertising.

Mellow Endeavor is an unconventional trio, with Howe on vocals and cajon (a unique box-shaped percussion instrument), Brad Hutchinson on vocals and acoustic guitar and Jim Zabierek on hollow-body electric. No bass, no drums. Unusual, yes, but Mellow Endeavor’s sound wouldn’t be the same if they had strictly adhered to rock tradition. With the guitars spread left and right and Jason in the middle, the group has a very open sound that allows the songs to breathe.

Howe says their simplified approach to playing music has actually contributed to their intense gig schedule. “We’ve been kind of lucky as just a three-piece,” he told me. “Space is an issue in some places, and fortunately we don’t take up much room. Since we don’t use an enormous PA, we’re very versatile in terms of which venues we can fit into. It’s easy to keep things chilled down and mellow at the same time.”

Although Howe’s bandmates elected him to be the spokesman for Mellow Endeavor, he prefers to turn the spotlight on them. “Brad is really kind of our front-man,” Howe says. “I think of him as the driving force. He’s responsible for all of our original songs. We write together, but most of our material is based on some his earlier songs that we brought back with new arrangements to fit our style.”

Mellow Endeavor’s roots go back to Howe and Hutchinson’s Little League days and continued when they performed side by side in All Aroostook Chorus and Band with Howe on trumpet, an instrument he started playing at age 7.

Howe and Hutchinson tend to work on new material in a setting where some of rock’s greatest songs have been created. “We call them ‘Porch Sessions,’” Jason said. “Brad comes here and we’ll set up on the porch totally unplugged. He’ll come up with a riff and I’m more of a lyric guy. We’ll just bounce ideas back and forth.

Between shows, the band has been laying down tracks for their first full length album, “All Paths Lead Home,” due out later this year. Howe says the band’s biggest challenge at the moment is selecting material. “We’re trying to whittle down about 25 original tunes for the album,” he said. “Obviously we can’t put them all on there, so we’ll narrow it down to just the songs that best represent us.”

A sold out show at Houlton’s American Legion hall was an early confidence booster. The concert turned out to be their first with guitarist Jim Zabierek. “Before the show, he asked for the songs and chords and we said, ‘No, you’ll figure them out as we go,’” Howe laughed. “Let’s keep it rough and edgy – just show up, we trust your talent. It was as if he had been playing the songs for years.” Zabierek is a fourth-year student at the University of Maine at Orono, where he studies guitar.

Over the last year, Mellow Endeavor has become established in Maine, and they’re ready for the next step. “We’d like to branch out and become more of a regional force,” Howe said. “We do a lot of gigs in the Bangor area. We’ve done ski resorts. We play north of Houlton in Presque-Isle and Caribou. We’ll be in Hallowell soon, and we’ve just cracked southern Maine.”

Family and music are intertwined at the Howe household, and Jason looks forward to the day when he can form a side project: The Howe Family Band. “With three kids, I have a bass player, a guitar player and a drummer,” he said laughing. My 5-year-old already wants to play drums. He jumps on my cajon and beats on it every chance he gets. Danielle came to see us play when she was 34 weeks pregnant, and the twins were flip-flopping and dancing all around. To this day, I would say that the twins are our biggest fans. If they’re crying and I turn the radio on, they keep crying. If I put on a Mellow Endeavor CD, they immediately stop and just smile.”

Upcoming Mellow Endeavor shows in the Bangor area include a March 23 show at Ipanema, April 7 at Paddy Murphy’s, April 27 at Nocturnem and May 11 at Sea Dog Brewing Company. For more on Mellow E - The Maine Edge


"Houlton trio endeavors to create acoustic bliss."

By Emily Burnham, BDN Staff
Posted Dec. 12, 2011, at 5:11 p.m. HOULTON, Maine — When Jason Howe and Brad Hutchinson have time, they sit on the porch with their kids — including Howe’s 7½-month-old twin boys — turn on the eight-track recorder, and start strumming the mandolin and hitting the drums. The Houlton natives call it the “porch sessions,” and from those family jams come a lot of material for their band, Mellow Endeavor.

“That’s the way we started writing together, and that’s where our best stuff comes from,” said percussionist Howe, 34, who has played in a number of Maine bands before his current one.

Mellow Endeavor, which also features guitarist and Sherman Mills native Jim Zabierek, has been playing together as a three piece since March of this year; plying their blend of harmony-drenched acoustic rock, bluegrass and folk to crowds statewide.

They have taken on a rigorous show schedule in Maine over the past few months, playing nearly every weekend, from Caribou to the Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry, where they will play two shows this Friday and Saturday night, Dec. 16 and 17, at Sliders Restaurant. They will also appear on television on WVII/WFVX’s morning show segment Acoustic Sunrise at 7 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 30, and play New Year’s Eve at Paddy Murphy’s in Bangor.

Howe and Hutchinson have played music together for years, and in early 2011 branched out from playing in cover bands to doing their own acoustic music. A show in the spring with their friends in the band Mudseason, held at the Criterion Theatre in Bar Harbor, was a turning point.

“We realized we had something there,” said Howe. “We’re friends, and our kids get along really well, but we really click when it comes to the music we love. We love bands like the Dead and Dispatch, but we also really love The Band and Bob Dylan, and stuff that has a lot of harmonies and great lyrics and stuff like that.”

On the weekends in Houlton, the pair would play at the Houlton Farmers Market, entertaining folks as they shopped for veggies and treats. It was there they met Zabierek, who signed on with them to form Mellow Endeavor shortly thereafter.

“Jim’s first gig with us was when he really hadn’t heard much of anything we’d actually done,” said Howe. “He was awesome. We both kind of thought, ‘If this guy plays this well coming in totally blind, then he’s going to be awesome once he learns it.’ He can really shred.”

The group also developed a devoted following at the University of Maine. Their shows in Orono and Bangor regularly attract large crowds comprised mostly of college students and recent graduates.

“It’s happened really quickly,” said Howe. “Something just worked, and we got into a groove that seemed to appeal to people. We’ve also had some success playing originals, and not just covers. We do play covers, of course, but we really try to do as much of our own stuff as possible. We try to keep it an even split. That’s really where our heads are at.”

Their relatively low-key setup — three guys playing only guitars and the box-shaped Cajon hand drum — means they can play just about anywhere. Whether it’s a loud bar, a restaurant or an outdoor market or festival, they can play to suit.

“It’s a lot harder to be in a full five-piece band with a full drum setup and all that,” said Howe. “It does make it a lot more difficult to play in smaller bars and smaller spaces. It’s very freeing to be so portable and flexible.”

- Bangor Daily News


Discography

Mellow Endeavor EP (5 original songs)

Photos

Bio

Emerging from the depths of Aroostook County, Mellow Endeavor has been stirring up jams since 2010. Their energetic grooves and northern flavored folk are both grounding to the body and stimulating to the inner sound factory. Whether your dancing with the wind or sprawled out on the grass, Mellow Endeavor has all the elements needed to resonate the optimal music experience.

Since busting onto the scene, Mellow Endeavor has made waves in the music scene in venues from Van Buren to South Portland and has even been referred to as "one of the hardest working bands in Maine" by one media publication. With nearly 100 performances under their belts, M.E.'s setlist is as unique as their instrumentation. Combining a mix of original songs and cover favorites from five different decades. Their setlist is consistently high energy and forever evolving so its never the same twice.