Diana Ladio and Alison Lynn say they’re ending their successful stint on “a complete high note,” playing for longtime Michigan fans in four cities. The back story at Local Spins.
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After 17 years as a Michigan-based string duo which has crisscrossed the globe, released a series of acclaimed studio albums and mentored thousands of music students, The Moxie Strings are going out on a “high note” this week, playing their final shows on a farewell tour.
“We have come to the agreement that we would like to quit while we’re ahead,” said electric cellist Alison Lynn, who formed the energetic, Celtic-propelled group – initially known as String Cheese – with fiddler Diana Ladio in 2006.
“We have had some really, really pivotal moments happen for us the past couple of years with a couple of albums that we’ve put out. Diana and I are still best friends and like each other and love playing music with each other and that’s the only way I can envision us retiring. We’re ending it on a complete high note.”
Added Ladio: “We’ve watched so many bands turn the corner of being burned out and not enjoying it. We just wanted to make sure we got ahead of it. It’s been a fun couple of years even just talking about winding down and reminiscing.”
Their “That’s a Wrap” final week of five Michigan shows starts Wednesday with a 7:30 p.m. concert at Midtown in Grand Rapids. Tickets – $20-$30 – available online here.
The Moxie Strings follow that with a Thursday show at The Ark in Ann Arbor, a sold-out show back at Midtown on Friday, a Saturday concert at Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petosky and, finally, their final soiree at the Old Art Building in Leland on Sunday. Get details and tickets online here.
“We’re going to play a mix of new and old tunes, bring back some of the old, old classics and some brand new stuff,” Ladio said, noting that Lynn’s father – the group’s “resident photographer” – has assembled a slide show retrospective of The Moxie Strings’ career that will run during the concerts.
That career started almost immediately after the classically trained Ladio and Lynn first encountered each other. Ladio, a University of Michigan graduate, had first embraced Celtic music in high school as a member of the Chelsea House Orchestra.
“We say that the band started the day we met because we both had this healthy drive to play different styles of music besides classical music and Diana had some experience in that and I was eager to learn,” said Lynn, a graduate of East Kentwood High School who earned a degree in cello performance from Western Michigan University. “The rest is history.”
Of course, the first part of that history came under the String Cheese moniker, something that the duo eventually changed partly because they wanted a name that was more “grown-up” and partly because they wanted to avoid confusion with Colorado’s The String Cheese Incident, a popular jam band that hosts Electric Forest every year.
“People would want to come (to a festival to see String Cheese Incident) and they’d show up and there’d be two chicks playing string instrumental music,” Lynn quipped, adding that “The Moxie Strings” name helped “pave the path for where we were going.”
Early on, they joked, they’d play four songs over and over at their gigs, later building up their repertoire, sleeping on floors and otherwise paying their dues on tour.
“It humbles you in a way that really sets you up for success,” Ladio said.
THE ‘SAME RUSH’ TUTORING STUDENTS & ‘SHOWING THEM WHAT’S POSSIBLE’
For years, they also toured as a trio with drummer and percussionist Fritz McGirr, adding to their growing legion of devoted fans, while also releasing several highly praised releases — including a Billboard No. 1 record — that added Americana and world music to their repertoire along with covers of rock songs.
Over their tenure, they’ve played thousands of performances, often performing 100-plus gigs each year as part “the amazing journey” of The Moxie Strings.
But ask them about their most memorable, most satisfying accomplishments, and they both cite the mentoring and tutoring of high school students and young musicians via clinics, workshops and music education programs.
“We still have the same rush at those schools as we did teaching our first clinic 16-and-a-half years ago,” Lynn said. “We still feel the same rush showing them what’s possible. There’s nothing like it.”
There’s also nothing like the friendships, “road parents” and family of fans that The Moxie Strings have cultivated over the years.
“The relationships that we have built as a band have built our lives as people,” said Ladio, who now resides in Nashville and has also played fiddle for the revered Irish music group The Elders for several years.
“A lot of them are coming in for the last week of shows. These people are such a huge part of my and Ali’s lives outside the band. We’re surrounded. It’s pretty amazing.”
As for life beyond The Moxie Strings, both say they’ll continue to make music together in some fashion – even if it’s just jamming in private – but are looking forward to the next chapter in their musical pursuits.
Ladio plays to continue operating The MOX Project, a nonprofit organization that offers “musical enrichment and creative inspiration to underserved youth nationwide.”
“We’re just looking forward to seeing what the next year brings and take it day by day,” said Lynn.
VIDEO: The Moxie Strings, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
VIDEO: The Moxie Strings in Ireland (2019)
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