MARAH

Marah was formed by singer/songwriter/guitarist Dave Bielanko from Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, bass guitarist Danny Metz and drummer Ronnie Vance in 1993. Singer/songwriter/guitarist and harmonica player Serge Bielanko, Dave's older brother, joined the band in 1995.

 

The group featured Mummers Parade influenced banjos combined with standard rock music instruments to create a highly eclectic Roots Rock sound. The quartet recorded two albums together: Let's Cut The Crap & Hook Up Later on Tonight, released on Black Dog Records in 1998, and Kids in Philly, released on Steve Earle's now-defunct E-Squared Records in 2000. Both critically acclaimed records were recorded and produced by the band and recording engineer/producer Paul Smith above an auto repair garage in south Philadelphia.

 

Metz and Vance left the band in 2000, and were replaced by Mick Bader on drums and Joe Hooven on bass. In 2005, the band entered The Magic Shop recording studio in New York City to record their fifth album with the help of Henderson and two new members, guitarist Adam Garbinski and drummer/guitarist Dave Peterson formerly of the band Squad Five-O. The resulting disc, If You Didn't Laugh, You'd Cry (IYDLYC), met with near universal critical acclaim. Stephen King, writing in Entertainment Weekly, hailed IYDLYC as the best record of 2005. The release of IYDLYC was complemented by the recording and release of a Christmas album, A Christmas Kind of Town.

 

The band, now solidified as a three-guitar quintet, embarked upon a year-long tour of the US and Europe to support the two albums. Highlights of the tour included Serge Bielanko's intense renditions of "Dishwasher's Dream" from IYDLYC as well as occasional performances of "Reservation Girl," a song the group has never released on a record.

 

In addition to the release of A Christmas Kind of Town, the band, along with keyboardist and vocalist Christine Smith, wrote and recorded music for lyrics written by This American Life contributor Sarah Vowell entitled "Christmas at Valley Forge." The song, along with other selections from A Christmas Kind of Town, was originally aired on This American Life's Christmas special in December 2005 and was re-released on the holiday EP "Counting the Days" in 2007.

 

Marah, with Christine Smith now a full time member, entered Nashville's 16 Ton Recording Studios in August 2006 to record songs for a new record. In April 2007, the group recorded and mixed additional songs at Brooklyn, New York's Excello Recording. In June, Marah announced that the new record, Angels of Destruction, would be released on January 8, 2008 and previewed the album at a concert/listening party in Philadelphia on September 8th, 2007. Angels of Destruction was preceded by a 6-song 10" EP entitled Can't Take It With You which was released in October 2007. A Christmas EP called Counting the Days was released in November 2007.

 

The new album was released in early January 2008 to widespread acclaim. Almost immediately afterwards, however, plans for an extensive US tour were cancelled following the departure of Garbinski, Peterson, and Henderson. A statement from Dave Bielenko stated that the current line-up could not agree on tour plans, and that to acquiesce to rhythm section would have represented a "musical regression." Bassist Johnny Pisano and drummer Joe Gorelick were hired as replacements, and in late February the band embarked on a European tour to promote the album.