Home Live Review Live Review: Madison Cunningham and Juana Molina @ Wolf Trap — 4/16/23

Live Review: Madison Cunningham and Juana Molina @ Wolf Trap — 4/16/23

Live Review: Madison Cunningham and Juana Molina @ Wolf Trap — 4/16/23
Juana Molina and Madison Cunningham perform at Wolf Trap on April 16, 2024. (Photo by James Todd Miller)

At the beginning of their recent appearance at The Barns at Wolf Trap, Madison Cunningham introduced Juana Molina as her “musical hero.” Cunningham spoke of growing up in a “very sheltered environment” and hearing Molina’s music when she was 17. Madison confessed that this tour was a little “self-indulgent,” giving her the chance to share a stage with Molina and watch her perform.

Though she’s a second-generation musician — her father is the tango singer Horacio Molina — Juana Molina has followed a unique path to a career in music. She’s been playing guitar and singing since she the age of five, and she made her recorded debut with her father when she was still a child. But Juana’s first career in show business was an actress and comedienne. In the late ’80s, she appeared in a series of sketch comedy TV shows in her native Argentina. She eventually got her own show, Juana y sus hermanas, which became a hit throughout South America. By the early ’90s. she had become the most popular comedian in the country.

Given her success as a comedian, people were shocked when, in 1994, Juana decided to cancel her show and pursue a career in music. Perhaps because she was so revered as a comedian, she had a hard time breaking through with her music in South America. She eventually moved to Los Angeles and found greater success in the United States, Europe, and Japan.

At Wolf Trap on April 16, Juana and Madison began the show with a lengthy improvised jam, with Madison on acoustic guitar and Juana on electric and playing through her looping machine. After the jam, Cunningham left the stage and Molina played for a bit. I’m not normally a fan of electronic music, but I enjoyed what Juana was doing. Electronic music typically leaves me cold, but I felt a lot of emotion in her sound. I was disappointed that she encountered technical difficulties with her looping machine, and really felt for her when she was disappointed that she wasn’t able to deliver the performance she wanted to give the audience.

Watch Juana Moline perform “Ferocisimo” live in Los Angeles via YouTube:

Molina left the stage, and Cunningham came out to play the rest of the first  set. A native of California, Madison found success with her first album, 2019’s Who Are You Now, which was nominated for a Grammy. The follow-up, 2022’s Revealer, won the Grammy for Best Folk album. She’s an impressive guitarist, blending elements of jazz into her folk sound. She played “Pin It Down,” “Broken Harvest,” and a new song. 

There was a brief intermission, and both artists came out to open the the second set with another jam. Molina then played for a bit, and she had better luck with her equipment during this second go-round. Madison came out after Juana finished and played “Your Hate Could Power A Train” and “Life According to Raechel.” Cunningham and Molina finished the evening by playing another improvised jam that really gave Juana a chance to show off her personality. She’s a natural performer and she’s quite funny.

Watch Madison Cunningham perform “Life According to Raechel” live at Sonic Ranch Big Blue on YouTube:

This was a welcome change from type of music I normally cover. I wasn’t familiar with Molina’s music, but I was impressed. I knew Cunningham’s work, and, live, her skill as a guitarist really shown.

Here are some photos of Madison Cunningham and Juana Molina performing at Wolf Trap on April 16, 2024. All pictures copyright and courtesy of James Todd Miller.



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