Mellotones bring groove to Metro

Despite having formed in 1997, Halifax R&B superstars The Mellotones have only come to the forefront of the music scene in Atlantic Canada over the past few years. With a group that features a horn section and prides itself on never delivering the same show twice, the group has become a live favourite of fans right across the Maritimes.

The Mellotones will be performing at the Tide & Boar Gastropub on Main Street tonight.

Rather than focusing upon playing cover songs that have been played ad nausea in bars across North America, The Mellotones approach to their live show is a rather unique one. Their live repertoire consists almost exclusively of songs that were recorded in the 1970’s. The group performs tracks by the likes of James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Sly Stone while also incorporating lesser-known songs by Dr. John, The Meters and more.

“I feel the best way to describe us would be that we are a dance band,” Mellotones vocalist Jeffrey Mosher says. “We play dance band material and that includes funk, R&B, soul and rock.

“From the beginning, we wanted to set ourselves apart and what better way to do that than by having horns in the band. We are versatile enough that we can cover material from bands that feature horns at the centre of their sound.”

Given the fact that each of The Mellotones has a career outside of the band to tend to, it somewhat limits the amount of time that they are able to perform. Mosher says that the band keeps a regular schedule of approximately eight to 12 shows a month, including a regular Thursday night residency at Halifax’s Seahorse Tavern.

Mosher says that their regular weekly show in addition to good old fashioned word-of-mouth publicity is largely to credit for the band’s growing fan base.

“Playing every week has helped us sharpen our skills but has also helped us grow The Mellotones name,” he says.

As a general rule, cover bands are not typically seen in a positive light by other musicians. This is nothing new to Mosher however it is clear that he is not pre-occupied what others think of his group’s choice to play covers. Asked if the group has pondered writing their own material, Mosher admits that they have entertained the thought but that they feel it important to capitalize on the momentum of a fairly busy live show schedule at the present time.

“We’ve heard from many people who say that the band should stretch out and do something original. But on the other hand, there are not a whole lot of bands here in the Maritimes that have a four-piece horn section as a part of a nine-piece band. So in one respect, what we are doing is very original.

“Writing our own material has definitely been something we have talked about and while we may compose original material down the road, we find that now is the perfect time to concentrate on delivering a great live show night after night. We are learning new material all the time and are constantly adding new material to our live show. We have 180 songs in our catalogue and can make each show completely different from the previous one.”

Article published in July 22, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript