Bruce Molsky & Ale Moller Show Review

Bruce Molsky and Ale Moller
Bruce Molsky and Ale Moller

If you’ve ever heard old-time music–not oldie music by the Splatter Sisters–but old Appalachian music, you probably came away from the experience forever marked. That music first touched my soul back in the early months of 2003. It was a sad time in my life and listening to the music mirrored my feelings.

If you’ve ever heard old-time music–not oldie music by the Splatter Sisters–but old Appalachian music, you probably came away from the experience forever marked. That music first touched my soul back in the early months of 2003. It was a sad time in my life and listening to the music mirrored my feelings.

But far from being a depressing experience, it’s affirming. Earlier this week James Taylor and Carole King performed at the Target Center or some place in the Twin Cities big enough to hold thousands of people. Possibly Taylor sang his emblematic “When this whole world starts a-getting you down…Up on a Roof…” And the audience probably all felt warm-n-cozy.

But I believe I experienced something that surpasses that event. I sat in the first row, smack in front of Bruce Molsky, as he bowed his fiddle and to his left, Ale Moller strummed his mandolin and they sang songs about situations far sadder than being stuck on a roof.

Introducing I’ve Been All Around This World, Bruce said this about old-time music, “You can take the most dismal of circumstances and incrementally make them worse and put it to a happy tune!” Then he sang us a song about a fellow who loses his shoes, his job, and finally his life. At the end of the song, the audience was wild with excitement and appreciation.

By the third song, my face already hurt from smiling. Next to me, Kurt, a music enthusiast who’d I’d met only moments before the show, said he was experiencing the same face-aching thing.

Watching the men on stage, I mused how such regular looking men—no mohawks, no spider web tattoos—simply unassuming people could create music as beautiful, as heady as a five acre field of lavender. As one played for the other and they alternated the melody line, I wished I could shrink into the size of a cell and find out what it’s like inside their minds. I’m sure it’s a maze I could never escape.

I found Ale completely disarming with his candor and joie de virve. His traditional musical flavorings of polska, haling, and Långdans (Long-dance) augmented Bruce’s old-time tunes with grace. Watching them on stage was like watching waves roll up on the beach. Over and over the ocean massages the sands, but it never gets old, and you want it to continue like you want your heart to keep beating. Over and over.

At one point, Bruce played his fiddle and sang, then Ale played his mandolin and harmonica as if it’s normal to manage two diverse instruments at one time, simultaneously! Later Bruce joked that he can’t even figure out the change for a quart of milk. I think, of course you can’t, your brain is already exploding with music, how could it also make room for the mundane.

One of my favorite songs of the double-set evening was African-inspired Brothers and Sisters. I remember that song when Bruce didn’t even have a name for it and now it’s an old, comfy shoe he’s playing while Ale buffs it up with his whistles and recorder. As the song ends, I sigh deeply in the relaxed afterglow.

Life is good when accompanied by music like they provide and the Cedar Cultural Center supports. Life is good.

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