Laurie MacAllister, Abbie Gardner, and Molly Venter of Red Molly talk about their music backgrounds, the appeal of female trios, the excitement of playing Merlefest, the appeal their music has for the NYC coffeehouse crowd, and the stories behind three of their songs on the CD Light In The Sky.
Red Molly Interview Recap
Laurie MacAllister introduces herself. Laurie says that singing was the thing she was most interested when he was a little girl. When she was 28, she was in a corporate job but decided to leave that job to pursue being a singer/songwriter. About 6 years later she met Abbie at a folk festival and formed Red Molly. Laurie talks about how supportive her friends were when she decided to leave her job and start in music. Laurie talks about how she’d been doing coffee house gigs for a while before she left and her friends and co-workers would come to her shows. And when she announced to her co-workers that she was leaving her corporate job to pursue music, she received 40-50 emails of support from them. Laurie said she printed all of them out and she still has them to this day.
Abbie Gardner introduces herself. She says she has her parents to thank for getting into music. Her father is a jazz musician, playing piano and trombone in Dixieland bands. Abbie talks about how her first foray into music was classical flute but how she liked to interpret pieces too much to be a classical musician. She worked for a while as an occupational therapist while she discovered song writing and guitar. Eventually she fell in love with the dobro, which is still her favorite instrument.
Molly Venter introduces herself. Her mom was the musician in the family.Her mom taught her and her brother their first chords and they would harmonize together. Right after college she mad a solo album and moved to Austin to jump into the scene there. She put out some more albums and did some touring, living out of her van. She opened for Red Molly several times and they asked her to join the band when they had an opening in their line-up.
Laurie MacAllister talks about how audiences love female trios and even though you can name a few of trios there aren’t that many of them. Red Molly stands out from the usual thousands of solo singer/songwriters due to the interplay of their voices which the audiences really like.
Laurie MacAllister introduces “Walk Beside Me.” It’s a song that Abbie introduced her to from an album called Real Time by Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott. Back in 2005 or 2006 Abbie played the CD for Laurie as they were traveling around and “Walk Beside Me” was one of songs they both loved. The theme of the song is “Walk Beside Me until our pathways do divide.” They changed the word “brother” to “sister” and the song became applicable to the band.
[plays “Walk Beside Me”]
Laurie talks about doing shows in the New York City area. She said that you might not expect folks in that area to like their rootsy, almost country sound, but they do. For one thing there is so much variety in that area you can find an audience for almost anything. That, combined with the energy and the fun in their shows, they were able to build up a following. The band found that doing a fun, high energy show works regardless of whether you are playing to an NYC crowd or a bluegrass festival and so they don’t have to change their shows much for different types of gigs.
Abbie Gardner introduces the song “Hello, Goodbye,” which is a song she wrote with her father. On this song, she’d written the melody and the bridge and all the words, but she was stuck on the chord progression. She was stuck because the song had a “swingy” feel to it and she hadn’t written that kind of song before. She took it to her dad because that’s the type of music he performs. He sat down at his old stand-up piano and she started playing the song. He was able to immediately pick up on it and developed the chord progression for her. They had never co-written songs before and so that was fun for her. Her father plays on this track as well as some other tracks from Light In The Sky.
[plays “Hello, Goodbye”]
Abbie Gardner talks about playing Merlefest in 2010 and 2011. She talks about standing back stage and being mere feet away from Jerry Douglas playing his with Omar Hakim on drums and Viktor Krauss on bass. It was a special set that they were plying for the festival. So there are many performances and artist combinations you don’t get the hear anywhere else. Abbie talks about how they enjoyed and were honored to have Dr. Greg Liszt, the banjo player from Crooked Still play with them on stage. They got a kick out of seeing themselves on the big jumbo TV screens at the event.
Abbie talks about some of the other festival highlights of theirs including the Sisters Folk Festival in Oregon, the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Festival, and of course the Falcon Ridge Festival where they formed. Abbie talks about how they started out just playing at the camp site and then they entered the new artist competition and won and then they earned a Saturday slot on the main program. Abbie also just found out they will be playing the RockyGrass Festival in Colorado and she is excited about that one because she used to go the the academy they have the week before the festival to learn from some of the dobro greats.
Molly introduces “Hold It All.” This is a song she wrote shortly after joining the band. She wrote this song thinking about “how you can get a dose of really wonderful stuff and a dose of some not so wonderful stuff all on the same day sometimes and how you can feel all of it all at once.”
[plays “Hold It All”]
Molly talks about how the usual way they work is that they write songs individually and bring them to the group and it’s not until they start working out the harmonies that they can determine if a song is going to work for them or not. But more recently, Abbie has done quite a bit of co-writing and Molly has been dabbling in co-writing as well. The band is starting to work toward doing more co-writing together.
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The Taproot Radio Podcast is copyright 2011 by Taproot Media. The music and interviews in this episode are used with permission of the artists. The Taproot Theme music is called “Meltdown Man” by Derek K. Miller of Penmachine.com. The episode as a whole is copyright 2011 by Taproot Media.
Photo Credit: Annabel Braithwaite
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