Folk fest heats up with fiery songsters
Red Molly, a New York-based trio, is excited to play the Canmore Folk Music Festival.
The band formed in 2004 when three singer-songwriters – Laurie MacAllister, Abbie Gardner and Carolann Solebello – met at a folk festival and began playing together.
In 2010, Solebello left Red Molly and Molly Venter, another singer-songwriter from Texas, joined the band. Venter spoke on behalf of the band with the Outlook.
“I was touring solo and I opened a show for them, and then they had me open a dozen more, so we knew we’d get along musically,” she said. “It’s kinda a marriage, when you’re spending so much time with people.”
It was their professionalism and devotion to their fans that drew Venter into joining the band, she said.
“Oh gosh, they’re super fun and they’re professional,” she said. “They definitely take into consideration their fans – they have a lot of diehard fans, and I think it’s because the girls have always been so gracious, so grateful for each step along this musical trajectory. It’s not always easy, but they have a really positive attitude and they put in the work.”
Unlike a traditional band – which may have a lead singer, guitarist or two, bass player and drummer – Red Molly is three women, each with a guitar and a voice and an equal part.
“Around 2004, Abbie was beginning to play the dobro and Laurie was branching out into banjo, and they knew they liked singing harmony as well as lead, and because it is three individuals who all have a strong musical sense and all write songs, it’s collaborative,” said Venter. “There’s no leader of the band, we’ve just split up all the chores and everything is up for discussion.
“We split the lead, and then we jump around too for who sings high and low, because we all have a large range. It keeps things interesting for us and for the audience, because they have to guess who’s singing which part, and then we each have different voices, but when we blend it’s a neat thing and takes on a different character.”
With each member bringing a different style to the table, the sound can be quite varied, she explained.
“We like traditional music, music like it could have been written forever ago, but we each bring something different,” she said. “Laurie has more of a folkie background with the harmonies being strong, Abbie always listened to a little more blues and swing, in addition to bluegrass, and then I have more of a pop background, but we overlap with great melodies that can feel old.
“We all get very excited when there’s a certain weightiness with music that feels like it could have been written a hundred years ago. But we grew up in this day and age, so with the beat, there’s more of a contemporary feel.”
Their style of music fits right in with the definition of folk, she said.
“I was just watching a documentary on Bob Marley and we remarked they’re all folk songs,” she said. “At the heart of it, wwstory songs, songs about people, are folk songs, and then depending on how you dress it up, maybe it’ll sound more rocky or bluegrass, but to me folk is just of the people – songs that are relatable or tell a story.”
While Red Molly has released five albums, only the newest, 2011’s Light In The Sky, features Venter.
“Right when I joined the band, we knew we had to have a new album with us,” she said. “It was pretty easy to work up songs – we didn’t write up as much, there are three tunes written by us, it was more covers, because we were finding our stride together as the new incarnation of Red Molly.
“So we just picked the songs we love singing. These on the album are the ones we all got excited about right away. They are from all over the map, there’s different styles on the album, and we were excited about Red Molly and being on the road together. It was an optimistic time, and a lot of the songs speak to that.”
While Red Molly has played before a few times in Canada, this will be their first time in this part of the country.
“We’ve played in Nova Scotia and in Vancouver, but not in the middle,” said Venter. “We hear great things though – the last time we were in Vancouver, they got very excited when they heard we had Canmore on the books.
“I’m so excited about the other people on the bill, like Ray Bonneville and Girth Morlix – I know them from Austin – they’re just great.”
For more information on the trio, visit their website at redmolly.com
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