Red Molly is one of the most entertaining and most genuine bands around. Their harmonies are to die for; their playing is impeccable, and there’s that certain electrifying creative spark that is evident whenever you see them on stage. Abbie Gardner (dobro, banjo), Laurie McAllister (bass, banjo), and Molly Venter (guitar) are each enormously talented but the three of them together …. Well, they’re pure magic.
To learn more about Red Molly, visit their website.
Red Molly will be appearing at the me&thee in Marblehead, MA on Friday, October 18.
You’ve had a big year of touring—what was your reaction to the music audiences in Australia and in Denmark?
Abbie: It’s been such a joy to bring our music to such completely new audiences. Knowing that absolutely nobody would know us ahead of time was exciting for us because we knew we were starting from scratch. We didn’t know quite what to expect, but we weren’t disappointed… Our first festival set in Australia had over 3,000 people in attendance! In Denmark we had the honor of both opening and closing the festival, as well as experiencing our first smoke machine! All in all, both tours were great experiences. We’re working on a tour of Ireland next year and really looking forward to it.
When you travel, do you ever have the time and energy to be tourists? Seems a shame to travel and not to get to see much of anything besides the insides of venues or festival grounds.
Molly: Certain tours we have more time than others to visit towns and take in landscapes. We go to the West Coast a few times a year; sometimes it’s hotel room to venue to hotel room but other times we’ve gotten to swim in the ocean and ride horses on the beach! What’s really special is to spend time getting to know people a bit. We’ve been welcomed into many homes and special occasions, and being invited into people’s lives has been more rewarding than getting to visit tourist attractions.
I notice that Laurie has been playing bass with the band recently. Were you looking for a slightly new sound after Molly joined the band?
Laurie: From 2004-2010, Carolann played rhythm guitar on about half the songs, and bass on the other half. I started learning bass while Carolann was still in the band, and it was exciting and fun for me! Then when Carolann stepped down, the band decided that having bass on every song would be ideal, giving Red Molly a consistent sound; and so I play it on almost every song now.
Abbie, how did you first get into playing the dobro? It’s not your typical instrument for a woman (which makes it way cool, in my opinion)…
Abbie: Ha, well yeah it’s not as common as guitar for sure. I went to bluegrass festivals as a kid and was always drawn to the sounds of Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas, Bonnie Raitt and Ry Cooder. After developing tendinitis from playing guitar, I was seeking a way to keep playing but in a more ergonomic way. Since it’s played “lap style” and incorporates a little wrist flexion it’s a lot easier on your fingers. That was in 2004 and I’ve been hooked ever since.
One of the Red Molly trademarks is your interesting takes on cover tunes. Are you working on anything new these days?
Laurie: We’re always working on new tunes, both originals and covers! We just finished recording our new CD in Nashville, and there will be five cover songs on it – two really well-known songs that RedHeads are going to love – we’re keeping those songs secret for now. We’ve also recorded another Mark Erelli tune (he’s one of our favorites), a great rootsy song by AJ Roach, and a gorgeous song about a father’s love for his son, by Darrell Scott.
You recently recorded your most recent CD down in Nashville. What can we look forward to hearing on it? And how was the experience of recording in Nashville different than your previous recording sessions?
Molly: You can look forward to hearing many more original tunes on this album! 8 out of the 13. We also explored electric sounds- I played the electric guitar on a few songs, Abbie ran her Dobro through a distortion pedal for a tune, Abbie and I both played a little piano. It was great to have another creative person challenge us to experiment with different sounds and arrangements. Some of it was well rehearsed, and some of it was discovered right there in the studio! In the past we have been very methodical and self-directed. Hiring a producer definitely stretched us creatively. It was exhilarating and also a relief not to be doing it all ourselves!