Red Molly rides its Americana wave to Park City
What: Red Molly
When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1
Where: Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd.
Some who are introduced to the Americana trio Red Molly for the first time make the mistake of thinking the band gets its name from its guitarist, Molly Venter.
The band actually got its name from the song “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” which was originally written and performed by folk icon Richard Thompson.
Dobro player Abbie Gardner came up with the name after hearing Del McCoury’s bluegrass cover of the song, said Venter, who replaced founding member Carolann Solebello in 2010.
“Red Molly formed seven years before I joined,” Venter said. “I’m the new member.”
Audience members will hear that story when Red Molly — Gardner, Venter and bassist Laurie MacAllister — performs Saturday at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Park City Institute’s 2018-19 Main Stage Season. The audience will also hear some acoustic music culled from six of the group’s records, including its most recent EP, “One for All & All for One.”
The trio recorded the six-song album after exceeding their goal to crowdsource money for three solo projects, Venter said.
“Since we reached out to Red Molly fans for the money, we wanted to give them what they really wanted, which, of course, was new Red Molly music,” she said.
The group recorded the songs in Venter’s home studio and in her mother’s living room.
“We put the couches on end to isolate the sound, and it all came out amazingly well,” Venter said.
Craig Aiken played upright bass on the EP, and the band’s music director, Eben Pariser, who is also Venter’s partner, played drums and guitars as well as producing and engineering the record.
“We loved the way we made it,” Venter said. “And made us want to only tour with these guys.”
The experience also inspired the band to record more original songs.
“The band is known for performing many obscure cover songs in a fresh way, but I have written more, and Laurie has been writing again,” Venter said. “We want to do some co-writing, but we need to make sure the quality of the songs are just as good as the covers. We also want the new songs to show off our individual and collective voices.”
Venter began playing guitar because her mother played.
“We would take little holidays and bring the guitar,” she said. “My mom would play old folk songs, and she would talk to my brother and me about harmonizing. She would tell us to find a note that she wasn’t singing that still sounded good.”
Venter’s early musical influences included Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles and Bob Dylan. She also listened to female folk singers such as Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez.
“I got a radio when I was teen, and that’s when I started listening to the alternative folk music of the 1990s,” she said.
Venter gravitated toward artists such as Tracy Chapman and Ani DiFranco.
Gardner and MacAllister’s influences were a little different than Venter’s, she said.
“Abbie has more blues and bluegrass influences, and Laurie has more country influences,” she said. “But we all overlap and the music we play is a blend of Americana music.”
In addition to combining their influences together, Venter and her bandmates also push each other in songwriting and performing.
“I would say Abbie is the consummate musician,” Venter said.”She understands music theory, and that has made Laurie and I want to become better musicians.”
MacAllister’s foray into music stems from a love of singing, according to Venter.
“She has a very expressive voice, and I think that inspired Abbie to take voice lessons,” she said. “It has encouraged me to want to make my higher end more clear and to enunciate my words.”
Venter said songwriting is her contribution to the mix.
“I write from a very personal and visual place,” she said. “There is a lot of storytelling, but it all starts from an emotional place. I think that’s what I bring into the group. But in the end, all we want is for the songs to be personal and well-crafted.
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