Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Molenes

Once was a time when this town was all shiny and new
There were hopes and dreams, there was promise too

It's not often that I get to write about a band from my home state of NH. One of the area's top alt-country bands, The Molenes list many of my own favorites as influences; Son Volt, Whiskeytown, Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, X, Ryan Adams, Drive-By Truckers... and oh yes, Big Star and The Replacements. If this all makes you think of catchy songs that both rock and twang, you'd be exactly right.

Even though they're from NH, I'm more likely to see them at Toad. The first time was last winter and I had circled the day well in advance. As the day approached, a big winter storm loomed, so I thought I might need to skip it. However, the show started at 10 and around 9 there was not a flake in sight, so I headed down.

I love the snow and of course, rock & roll music. Watching it snow through the storefront windows while The Molenes rocked the room is still a very nice memory. I picked up their excellent "Songs of Sin and Redemption" disc (their latest) at the show. The songs rock & twang and sound even better live. But as the snow piled up and the Cambridge P.D. started to enforce the parking ban, we decided it best to leave around midnight.

The most recent time seeing them was on the way home from seeing Lyle Lovett at the Orpheum and stopping in for a few songs was the perfect double-header. I didn't expect to stay long, but enjoyed their set so much that I stayed until the end. This time I picked up their debut "This Car is Big" (a reference to the humorous photo on the cover), which also has some great tunes. The last set really rocked. The crowd had thinned toward the end, but I think that made it so much cooler for those of still there.

I got to talk to the band, who also remembered that snowy night. Turns out they were not so lucky as I when the parking ban went into effect and their car was towed, making for a long and expensive night.

After the show, I also got to talk with Chuck Melchin about the latest disc from The Bean Pickers Union and will be on the lookout for his next gig.

The Molenes are Dave Hunter (vocals, guitar), Andrew Russell (bass, vocals) and Zach Field (drums) and guest Bruce Derr (pedal steel)

Although I've only seen them as a trio, they occasionally add a pedal steel player. They have been a fixture for the Americana Festival at Prescott Park for several years. Though for some unknown reason, this past year's lineup was decidedly more Celtic than Americana...

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