XPNFest Recap: Marah showed off some serious skills on the Marina Stage

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Marah | photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Marah | photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Where do you even start with a band like Marah.  The re-invented band’s set had a few XPoNential firsts, to begin with.  First bagpipe on stage (probably), youngest band-member (young fiddle prodigy Gus Tritsch) and the first time I saw a line of fans line up at the back of the stage to autographs.  From the name of their most recent record, Mountain Minstrelsy of Pennsylvania, you might expect a quaint back porch folk group but that is no where near what we got this afternoon on the Marina Stage.

Led by Philadelphia native Dave Bielanko and New York’s Christine Smith, Marah’s set turned into a crowd favorite very quickly. By now, the background story of their recent record is pretty well known to fans.  But the real story is how the band translates decades-old folk songs into raucous rock ‘n’ roll that gets people riled up and really into the music.  The set was off to the races from the very first intro, which pitted Tritsch’s fiddling against Kai Schafft’s banjo picking.  After the slower “City of Dreams,” Bielanko brought up Gus’ brother Huck to accompany on tambourine and some knock-out screaming.  This got the crowd on their feet in time for Gus to take over singing duties on “Rattlesnake,” a bluesy number that shows-off his chops on a three-string cigar-box bass guitar.  Check out photos and the setlist below and definitely listen back to the audio here (via the WXPN media player).


Marah | photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Setlist:

Highlander (Intro)
A Melody of Rain
Catfisherman
Limb
City of Dreams
Barstool
Ten Cents
Rattlesnake

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  • Craig

    Gus was this year’s “I’ve never seen THAT before!” moment. More than a novelty, though – he played with tremendous feel. With respect to the presence of bagpipes, while I can’t recall for sure, I would be surprised if O’Death didn’t have them on the same stage a few years back.