The Moxie Strings
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The Moxie Strings

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States | SELF

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States | SELF
Band Americana Celtic

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“Drive, energy, fervor—we think it represents our sound and the two of us as people pretty well,” said Diana Ladio, fiddle player.
Ladio’s performing partner is cellist Alison Lynn. Although officially a duo, they sometimes join forces with percussionistFritz McGirr, especially when performing on bigger stages.
The Moxie Strings, formerly known as String Cheese, will celebrate their new name and a new CD Saturday at Wolverine State Brewing.
“It started with just a name change, but at the same time we’re releasing a new album and have revamped a lot of our tunes (and) we’ve been playing with a percussionist a lot. It’s been an overall upgrade in addition to the new name,” Ladio elaborated.
“It really is an American hybrid—kind of a melting-pot style of all I’ve learned,” she said of the group’s style. The new CD is about 80 percent original, with the rest made up of traditional tunes, interpreted Moxie-style. “It’s a pretty good mix of Celtic and Americana,” she observed, “with three slow tunes - most of it’s pretty driven.”
The CD was recorded in Grand Rapids, Lynn’s hometown. Ladio, who also plays in the local group Dragon Wagon, hails from Chelsea.
Besides doing live shows, Ladio and Lynn can also be found in classrooms throughout Michigan and beyond, where they work to introduce new genres of music to high school and middle school string programs, preaching the importance of non-classical music in youth music education.
“The school clinics are something we’re both passionate about,” said Ladio. “There’s a lot of other incredible music going on in the strings world, and right now teachers are stuck back in time, teaching the same kind of music that’s been taught for the last century.

“We really believe strongly in introducing young string players to everything that’s out there. We have classical music degrees, but are making our living playing something else. Somewhere along the line we had someone in our lives introduce us to the idea that we can do a lot more than just classical music. We would like to be that person in young people’s lives now to introduce them to something new,” Ladio added.
“We’ll go in with our electric instruments and play our music and get them really hyped up and we’ll probably teach them some improvisation stuff. It’s that next step in musicality that classical music doesn’t often take.”
Besides teaching, and working on the new CD, The Moxie Strings played at the 2011 Top of the Park, the 2009 Ann Arbor Art Fair, and were featured artists in The Ragbirds' holiday show for the last three years. They have several dates coming up this summer and are hitting the festival circuit.
As far as the Wolverine State Brewing show goes, “we’re inviting people to come around 7, and we’re going to play the whole album top to bottom starting at 7:30,” Ladio said. “Then we’ll probably take a break, then play a whole ’nother set of fun stuff.” By Roger Lelievre
- Ann Arbor News, Annarbor.com


The Encarta World English Dictionary defines moxie as courage combined with inventiveness. That definition applies aptly to The Moxie Strings, the duo of fiddler Diana Ladio and cellist Alison Lynn. The pair, under their previous name, String Cheese, has been playing their unique blend of Celtic-influenced, rock-inflected music throughout Michigan and beyond for several years now, and will be releasing their first full length recording with an album release party on May 19 at the Wolverine State Brewing Company, beginning at 6:30pm.
Both Ladio and Lynn are classically trained. The years of lessons and the countless hours of practicing are immediately evident in the sureness of their sound. Few musicians develop serious chops like theirs without that kind of training, but classical schooling doesn’t always provide adequate preparation for performance chops, i.e.: the visually exciting stage presence we more frequently associate with rock and pop music shows, or the freedom and abandon we often enjoy in folk and ethnic music concerts. The Moxie Strings’ gift is to blend all these elements into a seamless stage show.
Forget any static image you might have of a seated cellist and a violinist rooted to one spot on the stage.
Lynn hangs her electric cello with a strap around her neck, allowing her to play standing up, and both she and Ladio roam, constantly swaying, bending and twisting. Their movements echo and mimic each other and their music, reinforcing and elaborating on the intricate conversations of their instruments. Lynn is a master of the contemporary cello techniques that have freed and transformed the instrument from its traditionally limited melodic and harmonic roles, exploring its rhythmic and percussive possibilities. Ladio contributes the glorious tone that is the hallmark of the classical style, but also the fiery bowings and intricate ornamentation that is Celtic music’s contribution to contemporary world music.
On their CD and in many of their live shows, The Moxie Strings have been adding percussionist Fritz Mcgirr to their sound. Mcgirr, a member, along with Ladio, of the bluegrass/folk rock group Dragon Wagon, has a similar background to the two women. Also an alumnus of a classical music conservatory, he is adept at the typical drum kit, but also on the Irish bodhran, the Latin cajon and the African djembe. His eclectic array of hand percussion instruments and techniques further emphasizes the propulsive rhythms of The Moxie Strings. Ladio and Lynn not only draw on the rich heritage of the various styles they have absorbed, they are also passing along those skills. They teach their special fusion of classical, contemporary and world music to students and music teachers at schools throughout the Midwest.

The future of music could not be in better hands.
By Sandor Slomovits
- Current Magazine


Discography

String Cheese (2007)
St. Patty's Day (2008)
Live (2010)
The Moxie Strings (2012)

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Bio

The Moxie Strings is the electrifying combination of fiddler, Diana Ladio, and cellist, Alison Lynn. With their feel-good melodies, and foot-stomping, rock-influenced rhythms, these girls have put a fresh, enticing spin on Celtic and Americana music. Though rooted in tradition, The Moxie Strings offer listeners the unique opportunity to experience two of the world’s best-known instruments and oldest genres through a young, progressive lens. Diana and Alison often join forces with dynamic drummer and world percussionist, Fritz McGirr, to create a high-energy trio proven to captivate any audience. The Moxie Strings’ ear-catching originals and dance-worthy, traditional tunes have quickly made it one of Michigan’s most promising instrumental acts.