Goodnight Moonshine But Hello Good Music at Folk Across the Street Show

By Rick Mellerup | Oct 07, 2019

West Creek — Folk Across the Street will celebrate autumn on Sunday, Oct. 13, with a barn concert featuring Goodnight Moonshine. Even some pretty hardcore folk fans may not be familiar with Goodnight Moonshine, but many of them are acquainted with Roosevelt Dime, and almost all know of the all-female folk super-group Red Molly.

The nucleus of Goodnight Moonshine is a husband and wife duo, Eben Pariser and Molly Venter. Venter is one-third of Red Molly (no, the group wasn’t named after her; she replaced one of its 2004 founders, Carolann Solebello, in 2010). Pariser, her partner in both music and life, is the electric guitar-playing frontman and co-founder of Roosevelt Dime. Sometimes they are joined by other musicians, such as Roosevelt Dime percussionist Tony Montalbano and/or upright bassist Adam Chilenski; they’re almost always accompanied by their finest creation, their just-about-ready-for-kindergarten son, Otis.

Now, the world of music, especially country – which I maintain is a cousin of folk – has produced many couples, such as Vince Gill and Amy Grant, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, George Jones and Tammy Wynette,and, of course, Johnny and June Carter Cash, to name a few. The romances make sense considering musicians meet when they’re playing the same venue or festival or bump into each other in the recording studio or at a popular hangout.

That’s exactly what happened to Venter and Pariser. Their bands attended a folk music conference in Memphis several years back and decided to hang out for the weekend. They met (Venter says that meeting took place in a “fierce headbutting accident” in the hallway of a hotel), afterward saw each other frequently in the New York City area wherever folkies congregated, and voila.

Their musical styles blended just as surely as their personal lives. In a marriage you have to give your mate room to be himself or herself, and when Pariser and Venter produce a album, they do respect each other’s space. On their second album, 2018’s I’m the Only One Who Will Tell You, You’re Bad, the primary songwriter of each song sang the lead on it. Still, they complement each other wonderfully when writing and performing.

The most frequently asked question of songwriters or composer/lyricist duos has to be “which comes first, the words or the music?” Venter is into words, big time, and, if a solo act, would slide easily into the folk singer-songwriter mold. But Pariser is more musically connected, with deeper roots in jazz and blues, so tends to inject harmonizations and add instruments in the studio. And he is willing to experiment. On Goodnight Moonshine’s 2013 eponymous album he concocted “Dark Side of the Rainbow” by interposing Pink Floyd’s “Time” with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Yeah, it worked, beautifully but somewhat spookily!

The Venter/Pariser combination led to a somewhat different sound for both. “I’m the Only One” has more pop elements than found in either Red Molly’s or Roosevelt Dime’s discography.

The key to the couple’s success, though, is Venter’s voice. One reviewer wrote it “bends from a sweet moan to a gritty shout and back into a playful run in the space of a few bars.” “It all goes down like silk,” said American Songwriter Magazine.

The concert will be held in an actual barn owned by Folk Across the Street’s Roland Hagan. It is located at 288 North St. in West Creek. The show will start at 7 p.m., but folks are invited to bring a covered dish and some refreshing beverages and sit down for a potluck dinner at 6.

Tickets are $20. They may be reserved by calling 609-296-9150.

Rick Mellerup

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