The Mollys

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One of the contemporary folk music's most eclectic bands, the Mollys were conceived by longtime friends and musical collaborators Nancy McCallion, the group's chief songwriter and penny whistle player,…
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Artist Biography by

One of the contemporary folk music's most eclectic bands, the Mollys were conceived by longtime friends and musical collaborators Nancy McCallion, the group's chief songwriter and penny whistle player, and Catherine Zavala, guitar and mandolin player. With the addition of bassist Dan Sorenson, drummer Gary MacKender, and accordion, guitar and banjo player Kevin Schramm, the Mollys have evolved into an ensemble capable of incorporating an ever-growing list of musical influences.

McCallion, a first-generation Irish-American, and Zavala, who grew up in a bilingual Mexican-American family, first played together in a high school band, the MoPhonics. Formed in 1983, the MoPhonics played throughout the Tucson, Arizona area for four years.

The Mollys were first conceived by McCallion at the University of Arizona, where she earned a degree in elementary education. Together with a classical flute player, McCallion assembled a group for a senior project in which she devised a lesson to teach music to youngsters. When the project grew into a concert, McCallion recruited her old musical partner Zavala. They took the name "the Mollys" because it sounded Irish.

After playing with an ever-changing series of other musicians, McCallion and Zavala put together the current lineup of the Mollys by 1994. The same year, they signed with a national booking agent and began performing throughout the United States. Albums include 1997's Hat Trick, 1999's Moon Over the Interstate and 2000's Only a Story.