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Mollie O'Brien says things are looking up

WANT TO GO?

Mollie O'Brien and Rich Moore

With Doug and Shelly Harper

WHERE: Clay Center Walker Theater (enter through doors on Brooks Street)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

TICKETS: Adults $18, seniors and students $15

INFO: 304-561-3570 or www.theclaycenter.orgCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Wheeling native Mollie O'Brien said she's encouraged that things are getting better. The recession, in her opinion, is starting to ease.

The folk singer, who appears Saturday night in the Clay Center's Walker Theater for a Woody Hawley Series concert, said, "We're doing OK. We're working. People are coming to our shows and buying our CDs, and I think that's a good sign."

When times are tough, people will choose bread over music if they have to. O'Brien thinks that if they're buying tickets and taking home music, the tension everyone has felt over the past couple of years could be letting up.

"Back four or five years ago, when this thing first started, we were joking how everyone was going to find out what it's like to live like a folk musician," she said.

Now, things are looking up. At least it's not a bad time to be a folk musician or to be Molly O'Brien. O'Brien is enjoying what might be a new season of her career. Her two daughters are out of college and on their own, and she's spending a lot of time touring as a duo with her husband, guitarist Rich Moore.

"I kind of slowed down on the touring for about 10 years," O'Brien said. "Then two years ago, Rich and I decided to put out a new CD, not just a live CD or an EP, but a full CD and we figured, 'What the hell? Let's go out as a duo.'"

Playing as a duo isn't entirely new. Married for 28 years, the two have played together many times, but the record, "Saints and Sinners," was the first time they'd recorded together. Playing together, O'Brien said, has been a lot of fun. They know how to read each other on stage.

"We work intuitively. We know how to give each other a lot of grief on stage," she laughed.

Touring and playing together is very different than it used to be. There's less stress.

"There isn't that worry in the back of our heads," O'Brien said. "We're not wondering if everyone is OK, if the kids are all right. We don't have to get a sitter to go play."

And it's more fun.

"We can just revert to being juvenile."

Not that they mind having the kids around. In fact, O'Brien, Moore and their daughters, Brigid and Lucy, as well as Mollie's younger brother, Tim O'Brien, and his two sons, Jackson and Joel, recorded an album, "Reincarnation," together as the band O'Brien Party of Seven.

The album, due out sometime this year, is a collection of songs by 11-time Grammy Award winning country singer/songwriter Roger Miller ("King of the Road"). After it's released, the family band will do some touring together. O'Brien said they lucked out that the kids like the same kind of music as their parents and that it's going to be fun taking the whole family out for a show.

"They're going to be totally spoiled," she warned of the children. "They'll be playing some really nice gigs right out the chute instead of hitting the bars."     

All that will come later this year. In the meantime, O'Brien said, she and Moore are having a good time performing as a duo. People seem to like to see them together, and the response to "Saints and Sinners" has been good. The record has brought them a little more work, and the two are considering a follow up -- eventually.

"But the record is still new to us," she said, then joked, "That translates into we haven't paid it off yet."

After all, it may be a good time to be a folk musician, but there's still a recession going on.

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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