After nearly two years apart working on solo material, the members of Red Molly are back to light up the stage together as part of the summer season of live music at Stone Church.
The trio performs Aug. 3 as part of a strong lineup of artists appearing at the venue in the coming weeks.
Red Molly has been playing its brand of bluegrass standards, old-time Southern gospel and classic American tunes — all in three-part harmony and instrumentation — on the folk-festival circuit for nearly 15 years. They have developed a fan base known as “Red Heads,” and have drawn comparisons to The Roches and The Wailin’ Jennys.
It was Emmylou Harris’s album, “Red Dirt Girl,” that inspired the band’s name, along with a cute young girl named Molly the women met on the subway one day. In 2010, vocalist/guitarist Molly Venter (not the band’s namesake) replaced Carolann Solobello, who performed with the singer-songwriter trio since it formed in 2004, along with Laurie MacAllister (guitar) and Abbie Gardner (dobro).
“I had never been part of a band before,” said Venter, who has released four albums and toured as a solo artist for six years before joining Red Molly.
Venter, whose background is more pop- and soul-influenced, recorded her first album (“Light in the Sky”) with the band in 2009. She contributed one of her own songs, “Hold it All,” to the release. A year and a half ago, Venter and her bandmates took time to pursue solo work
Their 2019 shows have featured music from each of their 2017 solo projects, arranged in the signature rootsy Red Molly style, as well as favorites that span their career. The band put together a six-song EP by fundraising for each of their solo recording projects, adding Craig Akin on upright bass and Eben Pariser (Venter’s husband) on guitar and percussion.
The experience changed the band.
“We can fill up the festival stage or strip down to guitar and dobro or upright bass and guitar,” said Venter. “We have more versatility and punch when we want it.”
During the break, she added, each of them grew musically.
“Laurie moved from banjo and guitar to bass,” said Venter. “Abbie was a brand-new dobro player. I got to stick to guitar, but I had to get a lot more guitar skills I needed.”
As a result, the sound of the band also changed.
“We used to do more a cappella folk songs with three-party harmonies on the chorus,” she said. “Now we have more instruments and there’s a little more energy by nature. It’s rootsy but a lot groovier.”
She has enjoyed the ability to move back and forth from working as a solo artist to being part of a band.
“When we came back together as Red Molly, we were figuring out how to bring most of ourselves to the project, including Evan and Craig, within the confines of (Red Molly’s) sound,” she said.
Writing music together has been another high point for Venter.
“When you create music together from the start, it becomes reflective of all of you,” she said. “It’s a more democratic and organic process. It doesn’t take away from you, it brings more of you to the new music that wouldn’t come about if you weren’t collaborating. The songs feel more like me. I’m excited to share some new songs we’ve been writing.”
In addition to Red Molly’s performance Saturday, Aug. 3, here are some additional summer season highlights at Stone Church:
Sacred Fire: The Music of Santana, Friday, July 26. A six-piece Latin rock band with a repertoire spanning the entire 50-year career of Carlos Santana.
Clem Snide, Sunday, July 28. Praised by NPR and Rolling Stone magazine, Eef Barzelay and his former band have been performing for more than a decade, incorporating cello, samples and word play into their music.
The Sweetback Sisters, Tuesday, July 30. A Brooklyn-based duo performing music from country’s golden age with hints of jazz and ragtime.
MaMuse, Thursday, Aug. 1. Folk-gospel-soul duo playing a variety of acoustic instruments including upright bass, guitar, mandolins, ukulele and flutes.
Aubrey Eisenman & The Clydes, Thursday, Aug. 8. Asheville, N.C.-based, Americana act featuring Aubrey Eisenman on the upright bass and vocals, Justin Eisenman on the guitar and vocals and John Duncan on the fiddle and vocals that blends elements of classic country with progressive bluegrass
Kaleta and Super Yamba Band, Friday, Aug. 9. New York City-based afro-funk band fronted by Brooklyn afro-funksters Kaleta & Super Yamba Band are fronted by Afrobeat veteran Leon Ligan-Majek, a.k.a. Kaleta. The singer, guitarist and percussionist from the West African country of Benin Republic lived his adolescent life in Lagos, Nigeria where Afrobeat was born. Kaleta performed and toured the world, recently with Lauryn Hill.
Sam Amidon with Courtney Hartman, Sunday, Aug. 11. An experimental folk musician originally from Vermont, Amidon’s material consists of adventurous reworkings of traditional American ballads, hymns and work songs. He has recorded or performed as a guest artist with musicians such as Bon Iver and Emmylou Harris and has appeared as a soloist with classical ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet and the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
Mark Mulcahy, Friday, Aug. 23. Singer-songwriter and founder of the band, Miracle Legion, Mulcahy has collaborated with such artists as Michael Stipe of R.E.M. and Thom Yorke of Radiohead.
For a complete lineup of Stone Church summer performances and ticket information, visit stonechurchvt.com.