Probably not a lot of “indie” music fans have heard of the Philly-based band Marah (pronounced Muh-rah). But the band has a strong fan base, and after listening to the music I am left to corroborate their message: If you don’t see Marah at Birdy’s, this will be the one that got away.
Revered by obsessive groupies like “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle (who produced their second and third records) and Nick Hornby, author of the book (OK, movie) High Fidelity, the base of fanaticism keeps multiplying. Two brothers, Dave and Serge Bielanko, both in their very early 30s, co-write, sing and play guitar. Joining them on this tour are drummer Jon Wurster (of Superchunk) and lap steel guitarist Mike Brenner.
The band’s latest, 20,000 Streets Under The Sky (a title borrowed from Patrick Hamilton’s 1930 novel), is on their new, self-guided label, Phidelity. Like their previous endeavors, it mixes guitar, banjo, percussion, conga, bells, horns and xylophone. How they’ll fit it all on stage at Birdy’s remains a mystery.
Marah’s sound slants toward Springsteen, Paul Westerberg and Dave Pirner, yet exudes its own massive originality and appeal. “We’ve always been attracted to raucous music that could make people dance or French kiss or bash out air guitar as well as reflect upon ex-lovers or feel bad about their mistakes,” Serge says. High-strung and poetically crafted, the songs flare, howl and burn about their subjects: Soon, you’re another fan unable to shut up about them.