Moxie Strings dominate the stage

Blake Howell and Blake Howell

Musicians like Jimi Hendrix utilized vibrant attire, stage theatrics and, of course, his talent to shred on an electric guitar. Musicians today still shred with the same spirit and moxie, including two musicians who play electric cellos, fiddles, and violins instead of Fender Stratocasters.

Electric fiddle player and violinist Diana Ladio and electric cellist Alison Lynn are two of three members performing in the Celtic Americana group The Moxie Strings. The two musicians both followed their love for music and earned bachelor’s degrees in music performance as well as music education.

After earning their degrees over eight years ago this month, the two string players had a chance meeting in Michigan during a camp ran by the American String Teacher’s Association.

The two artists both took interest in each other’s electrical instruments, as well as their love for music other than classical composition. They decided to start jamming and the Moxie Strings were born.

“You never know when your musical soul mate is sitting next to you,” Ladio said.

Although they started out as “String Cheese,” onlookers of the duo said their innovative and electrifying sound had moxie, dubbing them the title of the Moxie Strings. To further expand on their sound, the duo added a third member to the group three years ago: percussionist, friend and fellow University of Michigan graduate Fritz McGirr.

According to Ladio and Lynn, McGirr can turn virtually anything they put in his hand into a percussion instrument, which he does quite frequently.

Now playing together across the U.S., the trio entertains crowds with uplifting beats and rhythms, as well as striking chords one would only hear at a rock concert.

“The orchestra nerds are encroaching on the cool rock stars, but we don’t care, it’s too much fun,” Ladio said as she melodically tapped her feet on the stage of the University’s Thomas B. And Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre.

The trio tours the countryside performing for concert halls and even weddings, but the group also tours for another reason: to sculpt and guide the minds of young string players across America, which is what brought them to the University’s Wolfe Center for the Arts last Tuesday.

After performing a set of their own songs, the Moxie Strings called on the help of the string students from the Summer Music Institute, whom they had worked with earlier that day, practicing solo and ensemble pieces.

Junior violin performance major and camp counselor Sophia Schmitz said the Moxie Strings were great with the kids in teaching as well as performing with them, making eye contact with the students and keeping them involved in what they were doing.

Although they only worked for an hour with the students that day, Shrayas Banerjee, a student at the string camp, said he enjoyed every minute of it.

“It was really nice,” he said. “They’re really talented and fun to work with.”

Lynn and Ladio said although they love performing and following their dreams, the two never miss out a teaching opportunity. Music and performing has been a pivotal part of their lives, but teaching and helping other classically trained students think differently is what keeps them going.

“It’s been an amazing couple of years watching the light bulbs go off again and again,” Ladio said.

The Moxie strings are currently on tour. For more information, go to the band’s website,, for a full list of performances this summer.