So I’m sitting at my table during a slow time on a Friday morning in the Author’s Corner at the Norsk Hostfest in Minot, North Dakota. A tall, beautiful woman accompanied by a taller friendly looking fellow stepped up to the table and flashed dazzling smiles.
“Hi, I’m Mollie B.”
Ted Lange also introduced himself.
She has a wonderful voice and plays the keyboard and about eight instruments while performing. He is a dyno accordion player and the leader of the band Sqeezebox. Mollie B and Ted are the heart of the group Mollie B and Squeezebox that was performing twice daily at Oslo Hall at the Hostfest.
Mollie knew Erik Sherburne, who wrote the music to “Keep On Rollin’”. They went to Luther College together, and Erik had told her I would be at the Author’s Corner.
Mollie, Ted, and I talked a bit, and then she asked to see the sheet music for the song. She looked it over and looked at Ted and then back at me.
“Can I take this? Maybe we can work a verse or two into our 3 o’clock show.”
I said sure, and at 3 p.m., I took a seat front and center at Oslo Hall. Mollie B and Squeezbox have an amazing high-energy act, with professional musicianship, an immediate connection to the crowd, voices you want to hear more of, and lotsa polka tunes that get people up and dancing.
They hadn’t played “Keep On Rollin’” by 3:30 and then by 3:45. I had to be back to the Author’s Corner to speak and sing the song myself at 4:00, so I was growing to accept that they would not be able to work the song into their act. Oh, well.
At 3:56, Mollie started talking about Erik and this new lefse song,“Keep On Rollin’”, that is about lefse but also tradition and resiliency. She explained that they just picked up the music and had not performed it before, but here goes!
She sang the tender intro beautifully, and it was thrilling to hear a pro’s treatment of the song. Then she and Squeezebox launched into a very peppy version of the first verse, Mollie singing, playing the keyboard, and trying to turn pages without missing a word. She missed a word or two, but no one knew because she’s a pro who keeps on rolling.
After they finished the lefse song, I made a quick exit to get to my 4:00 gig. At the back of the hall, I turned and gave Mollie B and Ted a smile and a thumbs-up. Mollie B smiled and waved without missing a beat as they played another happy polka.