Bruce Molsky plays at Jalopy Saturday, October 12. Molsky is vaunted by Matt Glaser as “America’s reigning old time fiddler,” and by Darol Anger as the “Rembrandt of Appalachian fiddle.” And, he’s a New Yorker- Molsky was born in the Bronx in 1955, and fell in love with old-time music as a teenager. He moved to Virginia in the ’70s, learning directly from old masters like Tommy Jarrell, and seeing how the music fit into people’s lives.
Bruce Molsky stands today as the premier old-time fiddler in the world, the defining virtuoso of Appalachia’s timeless folk music traditions. In addition to a prolific solo career, performing on fiddle, guitar, and banjo, Molsky frequently joins genre-busting supergroups, like the Grammy-nominated Fiddlers Four, and Mozaik, with Hungarian Nikola Parov, and Celtic giant Donal Lunny. He was on Nickel Creek’s farewell tour, and performs in a trio with Scottish fiddler Aly Bain and Sweden’s great Ale Moller. Great fiddlers ask him to teach at their fiddle camps, including Alasdair Fraser, Jay Ungar, and Mark O’Connor, who says Molsky has “a mystical awareness of how to bring out the new in something that is old.” “Young people realize this is a guy who’s tapped into the real deep emotional wellsprings of this music,” says Matt Glaser, director of Berklee’s American Roots Program. “He has a way of removing everything that’s unnecessary; and young people are very hungry for something real. Bruce has that in spades.”
Whether performing an ancient reel from Virginia, a Swedish waltz, or a loping cowboy ballad, Molsky presents himself as exactly who he is. Rob Simons, executive director of the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, says that’s the key to Molsky’s enormous appeal as a live performer: “He’s that unique blend of virtuoso and humble, nice guy that is irresistible to audiences.”