Starstruck fans from across South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and even as far away as Michigan filled the American Legion last Thursday to dance, sing and revel in the musical talents of Mollie B and her band Squeezebox, “up on the hill” in Wessington Springs.
Mollie B (Mollie Busta Lange) with husband Ted Lange on the accordion, Chris Doszak on drums and guitarist Joe Poper made their inaugural visit to Wessington Springs, performing to a crowd of nearly 350 people at the Willman-Fee Post #14 in conjunction with other South Dakota tour stops.
A self-described “goer and a doer,” Mollie B’s whirlwind touring schedule puts her in front of sell-out crowds across the United States, overseas and on cruise ships for hundreds of days a year.
“It’s crazy but not crazy,” she said to the True Dakotan. “I was born into a family that played polka music and was always on the road — it’s all I’ve ever known.”
Mollie B easily manages to win the hearts of her fans not only during live performances with Squeezebox, but also reaches millions of households each week on RFD-TV’s “Mollie B Polka Party.”
Last year, the multi-instrumentalist, award-winning vocalist discovered that her fan base also includes some high profile devotees.
She explained to the True Dakotan that somewhere in between a three and a half week European tour, southern US tour and a six day stint performing on a Hawaiian cruise, Mollie B received a voice mail on her cell phone that at first, she discounted as being a hoax call.
“I brushed it off and didn’t return the call for about four days,” she laughed, not expecting what she was going to hear on the other end of the line.
As it turned out, a famous movie star and director wrote a part in his new movie for his favorite polka performer: Mollie B.
And the director and Mollie B fan in question? None other than Clint Eastwood himself.
As Eastwood was preparing to make “The Mule,” a film released in December 2018 in which he plays the starring role and directs, he insisted on including a polka scene in the movie so Mollie B could be in the film.
In “The Mule,” Mollie B plays piano, trumpet, sings and even dances with Eastwood. A song she co-wrote with husband Ted Lange, “A Day to Say Thank You,” was the track chosen for the movie.
“It’s the first time Ted and I ever collaborated on a song,” she said, smiling. “And Clint Eastwood ended up picking that one for the movie.”
Mollie B said that no matter whether her fans hail from — Hollywood or Wessington Springs — she cherishes the opportunity to bring happiness to audiences through her music.
“I love the people,” Mollie B said, explaining that she often calls fans for their birthdays and stops at nursing homes and hospice centers for visits when her schedule allows. “Our military personnel, health professionals and busy moms amaze me with all they do everyday. My superpower is to go on stage and bring happiness to people through music. I feel very grateful and blessed to do what I love — see the country and play polka music for so many wonderful people.”
Concert proceeds benefited the ongoing operation and care of the Historic 1905 Opera House.