Molsky’s Mountain Drifters at Nova Middle School

by Christina Butcher for OLY ARTS

What happens when you mix a well-established fiddler with the best next-generation, traditional-music players you can find? You get Molsky’s Mountain Drifters, a brand-new bluegrass and roots band with a fresh perspective on old-time music. Comprising banjoist Allison de Groot, fiddler Bruce Molsky and guitarist and vocalist Stash Wyslouch, Molsky’s Mountain Drifters is an innovative and multi-generational band. It’s bringing a concert and workshop to Nova Middle School. “We’re having a blast with the music and with the people it’s allowed us to meet,” said Molsky, a Grammy-nominated fiddler and visiting scholar at Berklee College of Music. “These days, roots music connects people everywhere positively, creatively and socially in the deepest way. If we’re lucky, it will help to save us in trying times. We can’t wait to join everyone in Olympia with The Bow Weevils!”

Molsky’s Mountain Drifters will kick things off by playing side by side with The Bow Weevils, a traditional old-time string band of young musicians: Hatcher and Rizley Cox, Anna and Ellie Davis and Ruby Neatherlin. They’ve been playing together for more than half their lives. “Music creates a strong community,” said 15-year-old Rizley Cox. “At concerts, workshops and jams you can really feel connected with the people around you. … Learning directly from someone you respect is a really powerful thing.”

Following the concert, Molsky’s Mountain Drifters will hold a “band lab”-style workshop for banjoists, fiddlers and guitarists. The band will give a short presentation, then break the audience into groups to offer hands-on training by instrument type. Groups will be led by band members. Molsky, who’s been called “one of America’s premier fiddling talents,” brings a lifetime of collaborative experience. He’s worked with the likes of Anonymous 4, the supergroup Mozaik and on BBC’s Transatlantic Sessions with Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas. De Groot has roots in old-time music and tours extensively in North America and Europe. Wyslouch is known for his genre-bending bluegrass style and has a background in punk-metal music.

“One thing that I appreciate about the traditional-music community is the intergenerational aspect of the way that tunes and dances are taught and learned,” said Emily Teachout, a board member of Arbutus Folk School’s board of directors and cofounder of the Oly Old Time Festival. “A big part of what we do … at Arbutus Folk School, and as a cornerstone of the Oly Old Time Festival, is create opportunities for young and old to perform, learn and teach side by side.”

What: Molsky’s Mountain Drifters

When: concert 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13;
workshop noon – 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14

Where: Nova Middle School,
2020 22nd Ave. SE, Olympia

How much: $15-$25 concert, $30 workshop

Learn more: 360-528-9480 | Arbutus Folk School

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