Bruce Molsky: Giving voice to tradition
Listening to Bruce Molsky is something like walking through a hall of mirrors. The multi-instrumentalist and singer, best known for playing traditional Appalachian music, finds his unique voice - soulful and elegiac - on whatever instrument he picks up. His unadorned yet nuanced banjo, guitar, and fiddle playing indicate a musical wisdom gained through decades of playing, teaching, and immersing himself in the traditions of old-time music.
"I love music that's soulful," he says, and his voice crackles over his cell phone. He is sitting in the airport in San Jose, Calif., with acclaimed fiddler Darol Anger. They've just finished teaching together at Big Sur Fiddle Camp.
But the key to Mr. Molsky's artistry is not his technical virtuosity. Rather, it's in singularity of his voice. Says Mr. Molsky, "I've been playing music for over 40 years and every time I close my eyes and start a tune, I go somewhere, and when I play in front of an audience I just want them to go there with me. I think that's a reasonable request."
Mr. Molsky's performance this Saturday at the Katharine Cornell Theatre will be his second Vineyard appearance for the KCT Concerts series, which runs through the fall. "It's exactly the kind of show I love to play," says Mr. Molsky. "It's friendly, it's casual, and it's an intimate venue."
Mary Wolverton and Greg Harcourt, the couple responsible for organizing the Celtic and traditional music series since 1996, are thrilled to have Mr. Molsky back. "It was one of our favorite concerts last year," says Ms. Wolverton. "He's a very warm, relaxed, and forthright person. I think he really connects with his audience... It's a very well-rounded performance."
Mr. Molsky's professional music career didn't begin until he was 40 when he quit his job as an engineer. Now 53,he keeps busy traveling the world performing, collaborating, and teaching at workshops.
He just returned from playing a string of concerts in Sweden, and in June, following an East Coast tour with Mr. Anger, he will return to Europe to teach at a workshop in Finland. He's a regular instructor at Mark O'Connor Fiddle Camp and he's been a featured guest on "A Prairie Home Companion" with Garrison Keillor, and NPR's "All Things Considered."