Singer-songwriter and guitarist Molly Hanmer, 23, is about to release her first EP. In a style known as Americana, "On My Way" is a collection of blues-based indie folk that showcase's this multi-talented musician's songwriting talents. In another first, Molly Hanmer moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco in early 2015, albeit grudgingly, she admits. "There was that Northern California bias. My friends said that people were cold in L.A. That people only want to know you if you're 'somebody.' I was prepared for that but it hasn't been the case at all. People have really been welcoming and warm. It's been amazing if unexpected."
One of the many unexpected events that occurred was the reception at Molly's first open mic performance in L.A. at Kulak's Woodshed in North Hollywood. After she played the club's booker invited her to be on the bill that Friday night. Perhaps she shouldn't have been surprised. At Molly's first open mic performance in San Francisco the same thing occurred. She played a couple songs and the club invited her back to play a gig. "I didn't expect that at all and I panicked because I only had a few songs. Not enough for even an opening spot." And that lit a fire under Molly to write as much as she could. "I guess I could have done covers and I did a few, but it was always about writing my own stuff."
For Molly, the unexpected is something of a theme. Born in Pacific Grove, California in 1992, Molly Elizabeth Hanmer was a surprise to Holly and Christopher Hanmer, albeit a happy one. The Hanmers had hoped to give daughter Amy a sibling but after Chris was treated for testicular cancer that seemed unlikely. "The docs told my dad he probably couldn't have another kid," says Hanmer. Yet Hanmers seem to defy expectation and Holly found herself pregnant a few years after Chris was declared cancer-free.
Pacific Grove is in Monterey County along California's coastline, notable for the beauty that the mountainous California coast is known for. Although not far in distance from the Bay Area, life in Pacific Grove is closer to that of life in a small town. "There was a real sense of community," explains Hanmer. It was in this idyllic setting Molly first picked up a guitar at age 6 It was her dad's Lyle Dove, a dreadnaught acoustic about the same size as she was. "I loved that guitar. My dad would play quite a bit, stuff like Leaving on a Jet Plane, and I would sit on the bed and listen. I knew immediately I wanted to do what he was doing."
When Molly's dad, an amateur who'd had a band in high school, saw her interest grow, he found her a teacher when she was eight. But with both parents working and no one to make her keep up with her lessons, Molly found that age 8, she didn't have the discipline to practice. By age 13 Molly knew she'd do anything to be able to play and her studies began in earnest. Dad signed her up with local guitar teacher Robert McNamara whom Molly cites as a great teacher and one who believed in her and inspired her. "I was lucky my Dad found Robert. He helped me understand the guitar in a way and he made me want to practice."
Molly has had a wide variety of musical influences, citing Bob Dylan, Billie Joe of Green Day and Jackie Greene as strong early influences. "My friends made fun of me for my musical test as it wasn't especially on trend. But I knew what I liked." Molly first heard Hard Rain by Bob Dylan when she was a freshman in high school and to hear her tell it, it was life-changing. "I was kind of thrown when I first heard Bob Dylan. He was so real and honest. He was laying out the truth. It was different from anything I'd ever heard."
Molly hopes to meet all of her musical idols one day but was honored to have had the chance to meet Jackie Greene in 2014. "I got to meet him and tell him what a profound influence he had on me. That was amazing."
Molly currently resides in Los Feliz in a place she shares with two other artists, a musician and a comedian. "It's interesting how comedy and music have these points of intersection. With both I feel, the best stuff happens when you are the most honest and vulnerable you can be."
Molly has gigs lined up at clubs and bars all over L.A., a couple opening for friends of her father's. While initially reluctant to move to Los Angeles she is excited to be here and loving the diverse music scene. "I've received a warm welcome. People have been offering to let me play a few songs in the middle of their sets. They've introduced me to club bookers. I am impressed with people's generosity. How they received a person completely new to the city. It's humbling."