I’ve always appreciated how this band moves easily between country, blues, folk, and bluegrass, incorporating and weaving pieces from all those various strains—and more—into their music. Red Molly’s website notes that their “innovative instrumentation is suited for roots-rock and heartful ballads alike,” and “the alchemy of their personalities onstage draws even back row listeners into a sense of intimacy.”
I can vouch for that last description, as their onstage alchemy also draws in viewers on the internet. With a little bit of luck, I had the good fortune last evening to catch their live-streamed show from the famous Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs. The band’s bio page provides the basics about these talented musicians. Dobro player Abbie Gardner’s songs and performance “have the punch of rhythm and blues.” On guitar and tambourine, Laurie MacAllister “draws inspiration from classic folk and singer-songwriters. Her voice stretches octaves, warm and romantic one moment, playful and subversive the next.” The newest member of the group, Molly Venter, “has a smoky voice that is unforgettable,” and brings “a moody approach to song-smithing.” Originally formed in 2004, the band was reinvented in 2017 with the addition of upright bassist Craig Akin and percussionist and electric guitarist Eben Pariser.
Now, back to that lyric. Red Molly’s name comes from the classic Richard Thompson song, 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, which they performed on 2014’s The Red Album as well as on last evening’s live stream. There are several memorable versions of Thompson’s tale of a biker and his loves, and it is appropriate that Red Molly actually waited ten years before putting their personal version on an album. Good things come to those who wait.
Clinch River Blues is a darker tune for the band that is “instantly addictive. Being bad never felt so good” reads the liner notes. Finally, Sing to Me is a beautiful lullaby written by Molly Venter that speaks to the feelings of being away from the ones we love. The song showcases the tight harmonies that make Red Molly so appealing.
New York-based readers should not worry if you didn’t make it to Saratoga Springs last evening. The band plays at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City on Sunday evening. Their tour continues in the spring, with dates in Chattanooga; Decatur Georgia; and New England, before moving south to Philly and Virginia.
Catch Red Molly at a venue near you…or on a live stream…and enjoy.
More to come…