Molly Nova – 2023 INDUCTEE

Molly started playing violin in fourth grade and guitar in sixth grade. After high school, she made the transition from classical to improvisation. “That was enlightening. I couldn’t play a note without music in front of me and had to learn my instrument all over again.”  After a couple of acoustic trios, she found her other passion: playing bass guitar when her first electric band lost its bass player. “I love being that part of the band. If I had to choose between violin and bass, I’m not sure what I’d do.”

Her ‘axe’ is a 5-string blue acrylic electric violin, which is one of three that she owns. This violin was custom made by T.F. Barrett Co. She does remind fans that, “No, that’s not a fiddle,” and says, “Thank you,” when someone sheepishly says it sounds like a guitar. Nova’s influences cover a lot of ground and music styles. Jimi Hendrix, Etta James, and Stephane Grappelli are atop her list of musical heroes.

She did the classic starving musician scene, traveling with other musicians in a beat-up van to all the wrong places, with no plan. Sometimes they were playing for no money and had to collect pop bottles to scrape enough money together to buy food. And all the while, trying to figure out how to get back home. These life experiences and stories later became a song.

Molly was one of the original members of the Little Red Rooster Band, starting in 1977. That band was based out of Minneapolis for a few years, but eventually moved back to Cedar Falls IA. With that move, she and fellow Rooster Bob Dorr started Bobby’s Blue Band, which transitioned into The Blue Band. Molly was a member of that band for 20 memorable years. Although many special times come to mind, there is one that is the most precious: a fan and friend of the band gave the remarkable gift of booking her on the Ultimate Rhythm & Blues Cruise in January 1997 and again in 1998!

“I think he knew ’96 was a tough year for me. I needed a break and something good to happen. He also knew I loved Etta James, and she was on that first cruise. I got to jam with Taj Mahal, Chubby Carrier, Maria Muldaur, Rev. Billy C Wirtz, Slim Jim Phantom, who are many artists I admired. Both cruises were amazing, what an extraordinary thing for someone to do for another.”

In 2001 Molly and longtime drummer/soulmate Turk Krause, also a member of Red Rooster and Blue Band, got their creativity flowing by writing and recording a CD’s worth of original songs. This offered her an outlet for her to play more violin. On the strength of that newfound musical expression, and the need to grow, they made the difficult decision to leave The Blue Band. Molly Nova and the Hawks were formed at the end of 2001. “It was one of those life decisions: one less regret I might have later, and one less ‘what if’ to live with. The Blue Band was successful, we owned the regional market, but maybe I was more comfortable than musicians are supposed to be”.

She and Turk took their new band to Minneapolis knowing it would be a tough market to crack. They pushed ahead with a new lineup and their debut CD ‘Another Shade of Blue’ won a Minnesota Music Award for Best Blues Recording. The Minneapolis lineup toured regionally playing blues festivals and clubs. Eventually, the economy, skyrocketing gas prices, and unreliable band members, made it hard to pay the bills, which dictated a new course of action. They decided to travel to some music hubs around the nation to seek out a more fruitful pool of available musical talent.

While in New York City, Molly got the call that her mom was in the ICU, so she immediately hopped a flight to Iowa. After assessing her parents’ health issues, she realized that there was a need to stay and look after them. With Turk’s support they decided to put their musical career on hold to be the primary caretakers of her parents, to avoid a care facility and allowing them to stay in their house. Eventually losing her parents, her dad in 2019 and keeping her mom safe through the heart of the pandemic but losing her at the end of 2020, the caretaker commitment resulted in a hiatus from performing for over a decade.

Nova was inducted into the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Music Association’s Hall of Fame in 2007 with The Blue Band, and in 2012 for the ‘Women Who Rock’ category.

Based back in Iowa with a handpicked lineup, Molly Nova & The Hawks are back to writing and recording. They are excited to be doing live shows again and playing the music they call ‘Sweet Rockin’ Roots ‘N Blues’!

Molly is indebted to the countless gifted musicians she’s crossed path with and cherishes all the wonderful fans and friends who have supported her through thick and thin.