The Beautiful Harmonies of Red Molly
Red Molly, an Ameriana-folk-roots trio from the (more or less) New York metropolitan area, has some of the best harmonies around. There, I’ve used a superlative and I’ll stand by it. All one has to do is listen to their song ‘Copper Ponies’, which is sung a cappella, to hear that.
Molly Venter on guitar, Abbie Gardner on dobro, and Laurie MacAllister on bass comprise Red Molly, named after the female character in Richard Thompson’s song ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’. They cover that song beautifully – truly, they have to cover it! For what it’s worth, Molly joined the band well after the band was named.
Their set contained both original songs and covers. I enjoyed hearing some familiar songs – Robert Johnson’s ‘Come On In My Kitchen’, Lucinda Williams’ ‘Can’t Let Go’, and a sultry version (as if there was another kind) of Peggy Lee’s ‘Fever’ performed by Molly – but also some songs I did not know. Some of those were Steve Goodman’s ‘Looking for Trouble’ and Billy Ed Wheeler’s ‘Coal Tattoo’, made famous by the Kingston Trio. They also performed Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Homeward Bound’, which never fails to bring tears to my eyes.
Their music is on the folky end of Americana, but the inclusion of the dobro adds a bluegrass/country sound which I particularly enjoy. Abbie is a recent recipient of one of Club Passim’s Iguana Fund awards, which afforded her the opportunity to purchase her beautiful new dobro. It sounds as lovely as it looks.
We had a special treat at this show – Abbie’s father joined the band for several songs. Herb Gardner is a well-known jazz trombonist who has played with his own band as well as many great jazz musicians. This was the first time I have seen him; even though he was not playing jazz, his talent is unmistakable and I would like to see him on his own.
In addition to Red Molly, all three have solo careers which are worth exploring. Laurie has been performing with Ellis Paul recently, Abbie plays with other slide instrumentalists, and Molly performs with her husband Eben Pariser as Goodnight Moonshine.
See them if you get the chance.