Anyone who has followed my writing over the years knows that Marah is a band that has absolutely floored me on many occasions; their albums usually wind up high on my best-of lists. When I first got Let’s Cut The Crap and Hook Up Later On Tonight (one of the best album titles ever) and eyeballed the cover I was certain that the two guys leading the band were middle-aged rednecks. Oops. Oddly titled songs like “Formula, Cola, Dollar Draft” were enough to get my curiosity piqued, but I quickly fell under the spell of the marriage of dramatic lyrics and back porch instrumentation, a refreshing breath of fresh air in the late 1990s.
When Kids In Philly landed, I was gobsmacked, especially trying to wrap my head around how a couple of Philly guys in their twenties could write about Vietnam with such naked authority. (I had not yet learned about Serge Bielanko’s voracious reading habits and astute eye for dynamic authors). And when I trekked to snowy Buffalo to see them rip a club from the face of the Earth, pound it into submission and then spike it back into the ground, I left The Mohawk determined to spread the gospel of one of the best rock’n’roll experiences of my life.
The past ten years have seen some amazing highs and lows for the band. Musical validation from Bruce Springsteen and Steve Earle giving them a career boost, writers Stephen King and Nick Hornby praising their work as unabashed fans and supporters…but every time momentum seemed to be their friend, something would knock the wheels off the bus. Rhythm section jettisoned. Goodbye, Philly. Float Away With The Friday Night Gods. Goodbye, England. Another rhythm section jettisoned, this time on the eve of a tour to support a critically acclaimed new album. And now, in 2009, no label, no album and as for the band itself…who knows? There are those who think that Marah is afraid of success, turning away from the current when it seems to be at its strongest; others think the band must be cursed.
Earlier this month I got to see Marah for the tenth or eleventh time, and while I’m not certain where they’re headed, I’ve got too much invested not to go along for the ride. I’m hoping for a Phoenix-like resurrection. Read all about it here.