Letters

Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

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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