Letters

Letters 10-20-2014

Doctor Dan? After several email conversations with Rep. Benishek, he has confirmed that he doesn’t have a clue of what he does. Here’s why...

In Favor Of Our Parks [Traverse] City Proposal 1 is a creative way to improve our city parks without using our tax dollars. By using a small portion of our oil and gas royalties from the Brown Bridge Trust Fund, our parks can be improved for our children and grandchildren.

From January 1970 Popular Mechanics: “Drastic climate changes will occur within the next 50 years if the use of fossil fuels keeps rising at current rates.” That warning comes from Eugene K. Peterson of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Newcomers Might Leave: Recently we had guests from India who came over as students with the plan to stay in America. He has a master’s degree in engineering and she is doing her residency in Chicago and plans to specialize in oncology. They talked very candidly about American politics and said that after observing...

Someone Is You: On Sept 21, I joined the 400,000 who took to the streets of New York in the People’s Climate March, followed by a UN Climate Summit and many speeches. On October 13, the Pentagon issued a report calling climate change a significant threat to national security requiring immediate action. How do we move from marches, speeches and reports to meaningful work on this problem? In NYC I read a sign with a simple answer...

Necessary To Pay: Last fall, Grand Traverse voters authorized a new tax to fix roads. It is good, it is necessary.

The Real Reasons for Wolf Hunt: I have really been surprised that no one has been commenting on the true reason for the wolf hunt. All this effort has not been expended so 23 wolves can be killed each year. Instead this manufactured controversy about the wolf hunt has been very carefully crafted to get Proposal 14-2 passed.

Home · Articles · News · Music · Acoustic Royalty at Dennos
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Acoustic Royalty at Dennos

When it comes to authentic American music, Ken Burns, National Public Radio, and Hollywood have all turned to folk duo Jay and Molly.

Kristi Kates - March 31st, 2014  

Since a chance meeting 30 years ago, Emmy nominees Molly Mason and Jay Ungar have played together on a number of NPR shows, several movie soundtracks (including “Legends of the Fall” and “Brother’s Keeper”) and saw their track “Ashokan Farewell” selected as the main theme music for Ken Burns’ acclaimed PBS documentary “The Civil War.”

MUSICAL CHEMISTRY

It was a slow burn for Jay and Molly at the beginning, though. After their first encounter in a New York state club, Ungar became busy with his band, and Mason headed to Minnesota to work in the house band of Garrison Keillor’s new show, “A Prairie Home Companion.”

After working together on various projects, the two eventually married, formally fusing their musical and romantic chemistry. While they both love a lot of different kinds of music, the differences they do have only serve to make their duo a stronger act, Mason said.

“My focus has always been in chords and rhythms, and his in melody. Both of us are strong in harmonies,” Mason said. “I’m a real backup player, and he is a real melody player, but we both enjoy trading those roles now and then, supporting the other in the ‘less familiar’ zone, sometimes even teaching or giving tips and encouragement.”

Jay and Molly’s waltzes are some of their most popular tracks, as they’ve taken the traditional form and given it a a sleeker, more modern confidence via their playing styles.

“There is something personal and beautiful about a good waltz, and Jay has such beautiful tone and expression for slower things,” Mason said. “Not all fiddlers have that as a strong point.”

NORTHERN SOUNDS

Jay and Molly’s interests extend beyond the duo. Their band, Swingology, blends American dance music with swing and country blues. Their new book, “Catskill Mountain Waltzes and Airs,” brings together more than 60 original tunes with chord symbols for equally ambitious fellow musicians. They run a week-long Fiddle and Dance camp in the Catskill Mountains.

They also have a new album, called “Fiddler’s Holiday.”

“It’s a kind of winter-season bunch of songs and tunes, most of which are newly composed or traditional songs that are not so well known,” Mason said. “We recorded it live with an orchestra and with Mike and Ruthy [Jay’s daughter Ruth Ungar her husband Mike Merenda] on Rounder Records.”

Mike and Ruthy will be appearing with Jay and Molly at their upcoming show, but don’t ask for an early setlist, because these musicians prefer to play it by ear.

“We don’t know what we’ll be playing for sure,” Mason said, “but we’ll probably include ‘Backyard Symphony,’ ‘Ashokan Farewell,’ ‘The Wizard’s Walk,’ and no doubt something to celebrate spring.”

Mason said the group is looking forward to returning to Traverse City and performing at the Dennos Museum Center.

“It’s a beautiful place,” Mason said, “and we look forward to being there in early spring and playing for those hardy north country folks!”

Jay and Molly will be in performance at The Dennos Museum’s Milliken Auditorium on Sat., April 5 at 8pm. For tickets, visit dennosmuseum.org or jayandmolly.com

 
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