In early October, we asked the question: Whatever Happened To Marah?. The short answer was that brothers Dave and Serge Bielanko, who took Philly by roots-rock storm in the late Nineties, began to break apart in the mid-aughts. While the brothers parted musical ways, Dave continues to evolve Marah with Christine Smith, and on February 25th release Marah Presents Mountain Minstrelsy of Pennsylvania.
The album is based on an obscure book, Mountain Minstrelsy of Pennsylvania, a collection of song lyrics gathered in the mountains of Pennsylvania by folklorist Henry Shoemaker and published in 1931. After getting a copy of the book, Dave and Christine began to work on a new album, writing original music and using the lyrics in Shoemaker’s book. Working in their studio in an old church in Millheim, Pennsylvania, the record was made on a Studer 8 track tape machine and mastered directly to a vinyl lathe. They also collaborated with an 8-year-old fiddle prodigy named Gus Tritsch, who plays on the album.
Marah’s new album captures the rock and roll intensity and energy of their previous rock and roll records but this time they do it with folk songs, waltzes, chants and ballads. It’s rural rock and roll in all of Marah’s rootsy glory. Below, watch a video of the making of the album.