marahb1Marah is coming again. Tenacious as a goddam briar patch, this is a band that has been dealt seemingly mortal blows, yet continues to thrive, continues to make music that speaks to metal head and hill jack alike. We’re not even going to discuss genre here, for in the words of Neil Young, “It’s all one song.” And Marah plays that song so very nicely.

Hailing originally from Philadelphia, with a move to New York City, Marah did a crash and burn that would have swallowed most bands in a fiery impact crater. Whether they fled their home, or wiped the dust off of their feet, remains to be seen. Either way, they moved to the hills of Pennsylvania, and in near-cliché manner, reinvented themselves. Or perhaps they found out who they’d been all along. And it matters not one whit. The results are wonderful.

Musicians Hotsheet had the chance to talk to Marah’s David Bielanko about this tour,

 

MH: I've got a couple of friends that came to see you guys last year. They are hard rock die-hards, yet they loved your show. Why is this music so universal? And do you see this often? I.e., people who would never give this type of music a listen being won over at one of your shows . . . . .

DB: A long time ago in London I had a friend that brought a guy like the one you're describing to a show of ours and he absolutely loved it too... After the gig he said something like "I gotta go see more live music" as if all gigs were created equal...as if all gigs were "good" ...i wish they were...we try our best most nights to make our music have soul and purpose but we also try very hard to deliver it without too much fanfare or pretension...perhaps people aren't so used to seeing that so much anymore and perhaps it strikes them as "authentic and familiar"....like an old shoe...I'm a lot like an old shoe.

 

 

 MH: Given your background in music, would you have ever dreamed, say 10 years ago, that you'd be playing with a clogging fiddler? And such a young one at that (and a wonderful player to boot.)

 

 DB: This question is bizarre but amazing...first of all, if Gus "clogs" I never seen it, I'm certain he could clog but... he does play badass fiddle and cigar box banjo...Gus is nine years old, he was eight during the majority of the recording process. We all stand in awe of his talent. Some days I think he must have come from outer space...his rhythm is unshakable and his instincts are superb. Did I see playing gigs with a 9 year old coming in my future?? No way, but I gotta say standing beside him onstage I have every confidence that he will deliver (and honestly that hasn't been the case with many, many other players that I've played with through the years.) He is a natural entertainer and I have the utmost respect for that...he is, dare I say, "the Real Thing."

 

 MH: Please tell us about The Book that launched all of this.

 

 DB: Last winter we stumbled upon a book of lost and forgotten song lyrics and song fragments called “Mountain Minstrelsy of Pennsylvania” (as sung in the Backwoods Settlements, Hunting Cabins and Lumber Camps in the “Black Forest” of Pennsylvania, 1840 – 1923.) collected by Henry W. Shoemaker. Christine and I decided to record an album that would attempt to capture the book's tremendous atmosphere and "sense of place" using our own original soundtrack.

 

We are also making a documentary to accompany the record. Since the beginning of this process we have tried to find any and every “living” descendent associated with these old songs and have become very committed to searching for the spirit of long forgotten folk music. Our friend Dr. Kirk French is a Professor of Anthropology at Penn State and just like Christine and I, Kirk has an unending fascination with digging up old shit to help explain the present…together we’ve been chasing down any lead we can uncover that points back to that distant blurry past; last weekend up North in rural Potter County we walked an 86 year old woman arm in arm through a snowy graveyard searching for the gravestone of a long forgotten “song catcher”. When we found the old stone we played a song for the old woman, she smiled…it was soul affirming…but why??? I guess we are making a film that parallels Marah, tape recorders, Mountain Music, Punk Rock, Technology…romanticizing the past, looking for connections, dead ends, etc. It’s been an awesome experience thus far..

marahb2“MOUNTAIN MINSTRELSY – PART 1” (an introduction) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKRKZ0OcAUA

“MOUNTAIN MINSTRELSY – PART 2” (the recording sessions) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAfon0-6SO4

MOUNTAIN MINSTRELSY Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mountain-Minstrelsy/295990917129295

 “SING! O MUSE OF THE MOUNTAIN” (new song!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMG3PX-19pA 

 WHO/WHAT: MARAH presents MOUNTAIN MINSTRELSY of Pennsylvania

WHEN: Saturday April 6th 2013 at 8pm (doors open at 7pm)

WHERE: The Kollar Club (Southside) 3226 Jane Street, Pittsburgh, PA

TICKETS: $17 at the door or $15 in advance available at

Dave’s Music Mine – 1210 E. Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA

and online at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/347859 

 

 

 

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