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Molly Hatchet still rockin', but there's also a soft side

  • Molly Hatchet will be performing tonight at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe. Opening for the Southern rock band will be Blackfoot.
    Molly Hatchet will be performing tonight at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe. Opening for the Southern rock band will be Blackfoot.
Published March 26. 2011 09:06AM

Molly Hatchet has the reputation of being the type of band you'd find at biker rallies.

They're in the same genre as the rebellious Lynyrd Skynrd and Charlie Daniels. The band took its name from a 17th prostitute who allegedly mutilated and decapitated her clients.

Tonight at Penn's Peak, the Southern rock band makes a return visit to the venue. Opening for them will be Blackfoot.

The concert begins at 8 o'clock with tickets costing $27.

Although Molly Hatchet will be performing their major hits, expect to hear some selections from the newest album "Justice."

Long-time band member Bobby Ingram said he feels this is the best LP that Molly Hatchet ever produced.

"It's one of the few albums I can listen to all the way through," adding the probably the only band that holds this distinction for him is Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon."

While the band has a reputation to uphold when it's on stage, Ingram, during a telephone interview this week, gives insight into a softer side.

First, Ingram gushed about returning to Penn's Peak.

"We love it," he said of Penn's Peak. He said, "The hospitality, the feeling of it, the acoustics, the fans, just the way it's laid out. It's a great place to play. It's run by some of the most professional people in the business."

Then, Ingram eased into to a topic that's very dear to his heart: The Somer Thompson Foundation.

Ingram is a founder of the Somer Thompson Foundation, which is dedicated to obtaining justice for children. He helped create the foundation following the abduction of 7-year-old Somer Thompson while she was walking home from school on Oct. 19, 2009 in Grove Park, Fla.

Two days after the abduction, the body of the child was found in a landfill in Georgia. She had been strangled.

A 24-year-old man has since been charged with the murder.

Ingram wrote a song dedicated to Somer Thompson and included it on the band's latest album, "Justice." The centerpiece of the record is "Fly on Wings of Angels (Somer's Song)," which opens with Somer Thompson's sister singing Somer's favorite song, "You Are My Sunshine."

The song gets a strong reaction every time the band plays it live, Ingram said.

"We have taken that song all over the world and the feeling's the same," he stated. "This type of abduction has to stop."

Among the sponsors of the Somer Thompson Foundation is Donald Trump.

Ingram said one thing needed is stronger laws. He said in Florida, "When you look at the perimeter of the school and a registered offender can live 1,000 feet of the school, that isn't right. Sex offenders should also have a special license plate on their cars."

He added, "Another problem now is if someone is convicted of a crime, if they move to another state, the investigation won't follow him. There should be an RFID (radio frequency identification) for children."

"I could go on and on," he said. "That (kidnapping) really brought on the 'Justice' record."

Ingram defends his gentle side, stating, "We had enough heart, we had enough feeling, we had enough compassion to devote to the Somer Thompson matter. So what if it's rock and roll that we play. We're still people."

When Molly Hatchet plays tonight at Penn's Peak, Ingram assured, "It will be a walk though history."

He said the songs the band has recorded since the mid 1970s are timeless.

As example, he said "Flirtin' With Disaster" can be applied to the present economic environment. "You can relate this to a lot of things."

Two deaths involving band members of Molly Hatchet had an impact on Ingram.

On March 10, 2005, Danny Joe Brown died at the age of 53. He had previously left the group after suffering from a massive stroke.

"Danny and I started out together," Ingram recalls, noting they were friends as teenagers even though they played in different bands.

His death "affected me a lot because he was my best friend since a teenager," Ingram said. "I gave him his first singing job. I'm the one who handed him the microphone to sing."

The year before Brown died, Ingram's wife, Stephanie, passed away.

In 2006, founding guitarist Duane Roland died in his home at the age of 53 due to natural causes.

"Duane and I weren't as close as Danny and I were, but it still affected the band," said Ingram. "It brought awareness that the Souther rock and roll industry is becoming smaller and smaller."

He said, "I guess people now appreciate us more. We're from the first generation of Southern Rockers. There isn't going to be a second generation."

One reason Molly Hatchet likes performing at Penn's Peak is, "The people of Pennsylvania like their rock n roll a lot, and they let you know it. They stand beside you and with you. They're dedicated."

He added, "The band has had its ups and downs, and after 30 years - three decades - we're still 'Flirting With Disaster.'"

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