MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Our Women Who Rock series continues with a gifted guitar player who has worked on stage with guitar royalty like Prince. And maybe you recognize her from her long-time residency at Nye’s Polonaise Room in Northeast Minneapolis.
Local singer-song writer Molly Maher is a gifted guitarist who graces local stages with her raw, sultry sound. At ease holding her guitar, playing upside down, you’d never know she didn’t one up until she was 18.
“The first gig I did was I went to go see a friend was at an open mic and I was just starting to play slide guitar,” Molly said. “I was encouraged to get up and play, so I took a salt shaker that was sitting on the table, emptied it out and used it as my slide. As soon as I realized I could get up and do it and just use the tools that are around you, just gave me the confidence.”
Molly has spent 14 of 15 years since making and playing music. But that one missing year was a defining one.
“About four and a half years ago, I developed a lump, and I didn’t have health insurance, so I didn’t address the situation,” Molly said. “I just let it go and go, and thought that it was nothing.”
But it was something. It was stage one breast cancer.
“Losing my hair was one of the most liberating experiences. One of the most terrifying, but one of the most liberating for sure,” Molly said. “I went through six rounds of chemo and 30-some rounds of radiation. And changed my life.”
Molly found comfort in family, friends and her guitar.
“It’s sculpture, it’s beautiful, it resonates with you,” she says of the surrounding guitars.
When she’s not gigging, guitar players from novice to expert turn to her at Willy’s American Guitar, where she’s a guitar tech.
“I’ve worked for and with Trampled by Turtles for a solid year. I’ve worked for Lucinda Williams, Prince, the Honeydogs.”
Anyone can stop in to see her, ask questions and play a chord or two. Just know that there are some Molly has heard so many times, she would love to never hear them again.
“Black Bird. Black Bird is done to me. And it’s such a shame because it’s one of the most beautiful melodies you’ve ever heard, but if someone was playing it and John Lennon himself had burst through this person’s chest and McCartney walks in and sat there and said we are reuniting. And here comes Ringo. I would say ‘no, no, it’s done.'”
If you want to hear Molly play live with Her Disbelievers, you can see them July 19th at the 4th Annual Twin Cities Roots, Rock and Deep Blues Festival. She is also playing the Lowertown Guitar Festival in Mears Park on August 9th. That’s a festival she helped organize, curate and host with McNally-Smith College of Music.
Molly also hosts Real Phonic Radio Hour. It’s a monthly, live show set in James J. Hill Library that features a national act, local act and house band. It’s the third Thursday of every month.
If you want to learn more about Molly, click here.