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Goodnight Moonshine’s Music An Extension Of Close Personal Ties

Courtesy photo

Molly Venter and her husband Eben Pariser weren’t married yet when the foundation for Goodnight Moonshine was laid. In fact, they weren’t even a couple. After their respective bands, Red Molly and Roosevelt Dime, had crossed paths a few times they became musical collaborators, finding that their different takes on American music provided a unique balance.

Within Goodnight Moonshine’s music is a confluence of folk, blues and hints of jazz. Pariser’s harmonic sensibilities are wide, imaginative while Venter’s singular voice recalls pre-diva singers who could lay out emotions without melodrama.

Venter and Pariser will perform at Hesston’s Dyck Arboretum Friday, November 10.

Jedd Beaudoin: Goodnight Moonshine is a project that you formed with your husband. At what point did it seem like a good idea for the two of you to form a touring and recording unit?

Molly Venter: Before we were even romantically involved, my band, Red Molly, and his band, Roosevelt Dime, met at the Folk Alliance conference in Kansas City. Then we started hanging out in Brooklyn. We developed a songwriting group together, so we would we get together once a month. We’d bring music and help each other edit and just talk about art. We kind of took a liking to each other’s music then. When we started dating we’d go to visit family, have some downtime and just start playing music together then.

It’s a really symbiotic thing. I’ve got certain strengths and he’s got different strengths. So we don’t butt heads too much in the creative process, which is awesome.

So this really is a case of you aligning with somebody musically and personally. That’s not necessarily something that always happens. Sometimes people collaborate or try to collaborate and it doesn’t always work. What made it so magical, in your estimation?

We have enough overlap in our musical backgrounds but we don’t have a lot of difference. His dad had him listening to a lot of blues early on. I was listening to the folk of my parents’ collection. Eben’s more of a musician’s musician. He’s got a producer’s head. He arranges. He writes string parts. He sings and plays guitar and writes songs but he’s coming at it more from [a broad view] whereas I come to it heavy in the songwriting background, heavy into the singing.

We can defer to each other. We can edit. We respect each other and there’s not usually too much conflict because we know, ‘Yeah, you’re right it should go to a different chord change.’ Or, he says, to me, ‘You’re right. That line was lazy and it could be better.’ So, it works out really well.

You have a son and I know that there are musicians who take children on the road. What is that existence like? How does it change your life on the road? I guess, too, it must be a fascinating thing for a child to travel like that.

For the most part it’s awesome. But I must say that we’ve done both with and without grandparents and it’s much better with. Our little guy is pretty great about car rides and seeing new places. He’s pretty easy. There’s a lot of down time involved in being on the road. So, it’s a great thing to say, ‘You know what? We’re going to drive two hours but then we’re going to find a really cool park to explore.’ Because nobody really wants to be cooped up in the car.

It’s hard if you have no help. Eben and I did this tour solo out on the West Coast where we just had a friend who would put Otis to bed at night. But we were still the one’s waking up with him. If you’re going to bed late at night after playing a show and then your kid wakes up through the night and then you’re waking up at 6 a.m. that can get really brutal.

We’ve gotten smart and we have grandparents that come and they all like to go to sleep early and wake up early. We get them a separate hotel room and everybody’s really happy.


Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.


Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.