We are Songs: Molina – A Memorial Electric Co – a group of people who were all brought together by our friend and bandmate Jason Molina. The core of our group is comprised of five of the seven original members of Magnolia Electric Co – Mike Brenner, Jason Evans Groth, Michael Kapinus, Mark Rice, and Pete Schreiner – all of whom were also part of Songs: Ohia. Regardless of the name of the groups, we were Jason Molina’s musical compatriots, and he was our leader, singer, and our dear brother.
In 2013, to celebrate the life of Jason Molina and mourn his loss, we five bandmates and a few dozen others that spanned his storied career got together in Bloomington, Indiana – the home of many of his friends, his label, and his musical cohort – for a day full of revelry based on his music; the music that brought all of us together, that made us a family, one that was lucky enough to have revolved around Jason Molina. It was decided that the day should be repeated in Chicago, the home of the core group of musicians who helped to craft the masterpiece Magnolia Electric Co. album and, in January of 2014, it happened. It took some doing. By then Evans Groth was in Raleigh, NC, Schreiner in Portland, OR, Kapinus in Houston, TX, Rice and Brenner in Philadelphia, PA. The most logical way was to gather somewhere and make our way, together, like the old days, to the destination that inspired “Leave the City” from the What Comes After the Blues album. M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger – a long-time friend of Molina’s and a tourmate of ours when he was a part of The Court and Spark – joined us on guitar. Vocals were shared in an effort to pay tribute to our departed friend. There was no attempt at replacement, or even the idea that such a thing was possible let alone desired. Instead, he and his songs led us to rooms full of others who were celebrating and memorializing, hearing Jason’s words, and imagining his voice in harmony with ours, leading us through the amazing songs we got to play, contribute to, record, and love dearly.
The extensive list of friends, family, and collaborators we put together when working on Jason’s first memorial in 2013 became a valuable touchstone when Erin Osmon, a writer, fan, and friend, approached us about writing a book about him. After years of research, hundreds of hours of interviews, and thoughtful, respectful, hard work – the kind Molina wrote so much about, and practiced himself – Osmon will release Jason Molina: Riding With The Ghost (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017). In honor of this, Songs Molina: A Memorial Electric Co., will be playing a few shows to once again celebrate Molina’s life and work in the way he loved to do it himself – playing live. Collaborators whom Jason Molina loved, admired, pranked, toured with, etc., will be invited to sing and play, to tell stories, and to respectfully remember our singer, our leader, our friend. Erin will join the tour and each show will feature readings and storytelling by the band and guest. We look forward to sharing our memories but, mostly, Jason’s songs, which mean so much to us and so many others.
– Jason Evans Groth, April 2017