Traditional / Ethnic

The Mollys

IT'S THE QUESTION every musician dreads: How would you describe your band to someone who has never heard them?

"If it was somebody I knew very well I might say something boastful like 'We're the best band you've ever heard in your entire life,'" Catherine Zavala of The Mollys says with a laugh. "If it was somebody I didn't know I'd be a little bit more modest and say, 'We're the best band you've ever heard in your entire life.'"

Band Photo Zavala plays mandolin, guitar, fiddle and sings lead along with co-lead singer Nancy McCallion (who also plays guitar, harmonica and whistles), bassist Dan Sorenson, Kevin Schramm on button accordion, banjo, guitar and whistles and drummer Gary Mackender in the best Irish and Latin-American rock and roll band playing traditional and original reels, jigs and ballads, too.

Various configurations of The Mollys will be travelling around the country this summer, beginning with the Kerrville Folk Festival in early June. The entire band is also playing several dates in Colorado later that month.

From there, Zavala, McCallion and Schramm (as his schedule allows) will take off for the East Coast playing gigs in coffee houses and clubs before the group reunites in New York at the Lincoln Center for a festival in late August. Afterwards the band will be back home playing clubs in Tucson.

When on tour the various members of the group will be packing a new album along with their instruments. This Is My Round was recorded with Irish musicians Mick Moloney and Eugene O'Donnell over a year ago.

The band has talked with Flying Fish Records about releasing the album but Zavala says the negotiations didn't go well.

"They're really, really traditional bands (on the Flying Fish roster) and we're not. They've said things like 'We're not doing girl duo groups this year,' which is, you know, kind of hard to take that kind of comment."

It's probably especially hard to take when The Mollys are obviously not a "girl duo group."

"Exactly, but the idea is that's what they would market," she says. "It's not really what we would want them to market. So that's really frustrating."

So the group has anted up the money for the album's release on their own.

"We did it live in the studio with some solo overdubs, but it has a really live sound. We're happy with it."

Zavala also wants to stress how happy she and McCallion (founders of the group) are with the rhythm section.

"We've had a lot of comments about how this is the most dynamic band we've ever had. They're really into it and they're all veteran musicians, so they know about the hard times and don't complain."

What more could you ask of a rhythm section? No, that's another dreaded question that will have to answered at another time.
--Michael Metzger

Hot Desert Love Toads

IT'S A SEXY name, there's no denying that. If you have an extra-special fondness for Celtic roots music--the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland--and the music of Appalachia, you'll find the music of Hot Desert Love Toads sexy, too.

"It's traditional music and it's dance music," bassist Mars Burnside says. "It just feels right."

It feels good to fiddler and mandolinist Sharon Goldwasser, fiddler Bob Hauth, guitarist and vocalist Jim McConnell and vocalist and clog dancer Claire Zucker (who also plays bodhran, a traditional Celtic drum), too.

He says the Toads are a true ensemble, with everyone pulling in the same direction. "Our music comes from a dance tradition, making it a lot like, for instance, chicken scratch music. What's important is the music." Burnside says. "There's not a great emphasis on vocals--it's very rhythmic and there's not a particular emphasis on somebody being the lead and everybody backing him up."
--Michael Metzger


© 1995 Tucson Weekly