Update: “Whatever happened to Marah?”
Inspired by a tweet from the excellent music blogger Captains Dead stating “gimme #marah,” we took pause for a moment and stopped down to ask: “whatever happened to Marah?”
The Philly roots-rock band that captured our attention in 1998 with a mind blowing debut album (Let’s Cut the Crap & Hook Up Later On Tonight) and the equally impressive Kids In Philly followup, are still rocking it up. Marah began as the brainchild of Conshohocken brothers Dave and Serge Bielanko. Their live performances were fiery and fierce, but with the release of their third album, 2002’s Float Away With the Friday Night Gods, Marah began to show some creative wear and tear on their albums – even though it had a guest appearance from Bruce Springsteen on the album and a record deal on Steve Earle’s E-Squared label.
Though 2005’s If You Didn’t Laugh You’d Cry was an overall strong collection (and their run of holiday homecoming shows at The TLA in the mid-aughts were somewhat legendary), the band of brothers was beginning to break apart. In 2008, Serge left the band to focus on his family life and he and his wife Monica are raising their family in rural Pennsylvania and do some excellent blogging here and here. In 2010, a house fire destroyed almost everything they had, but thanks to the help of many they pulled through.
Serge’s brother Dave has been keeping the Marah name alive and in 2010 released the raw, yet beautiful Life Is A Problem. Where Marah was once at the center of the conversation of many Philly music fans for several years, that band slipped off the radar. With Serge leaving the band, Dave moved out of Philly and together with Christine Smith, they are carrying on the Marah sound. The band’s forthcoming album is called Mountain Minstrelsy of Pennsylvania, and it is going to be a collection of rootsy, spiritual rock and roll. The band writes on their web site that it features “old standards,” and “real banjo punk rock.” In anticipation of the release, Marah have a special limited edition 7-inch vinyl single featuring two new songs. You can order the single here. Below, listen to the A-side, “Ten Cents At The Gate” featuring the Shurfine Barbershop Quartet.