“Are there any cowgirls in London tonight?” asks Molly Tuttle, the talented musician who is reinventing bluegrass with her modern approach to storytelling. She warms up the audience at Cadogan Hall for Tommy Emmanuel, the Australian guitar prodigy. By the end of her set, the previously calm audience is now energized and ready to take on any challenge.
Known for her impressive guitar skills, effortlessly transitioning between crosspicking, flatpicking, and clawhammer strums, she plays the instrument as if it were an old friend. While her band Golden Highway usually adds depth to her tales of life on the road, matters of the heart, and cannabis farmers in the Blue Ridge Mountains, tonight she performs solo. However, this is not a simplistic performance. She expertly utilizes the guitar’s bass and rhythm, showcasing her remarkable self-reliance as she plays through songs such as “El Dorado” and “San Joaquin” from her latest album, City of Gold.
Tuttle is skilled at singing the high lonesome, but she adds a cheerful smile to her performances, almost as if she’s sharing a secret with you. She often includes a wink, just for good measure. Her lively version of the sing-along “Side Saddle,” which celebrates independent spirit and defies those who say “a girl can’t ride,” has the same fun and intimacy as a campfire jam session. With the help of bluegrass camaraderie, her initially calm audience quickly joined in, whistling along with her invitation.
She transforms She’s A Rainbow by The Rolling Stones, which was featured on her 2020 covers album …but i’d rather be with you. While maintaining the song’s joyful essence, she changes its original psychedelic sound into a more rustic, Appalachian charm. She was invited to join her childhood idol Tommy Emmanuel on stage, and together they performed the title track from her Grammy-winning album Crooked Tree. Watching them play their guitars in perfect synchronization, it’s impossible to tell who is the student and who is the master. With her unique style and flair, if it were possible to capture it in a bottle, you’d want to buy two.