Recap- Conshohocken Music Fest Featuring Marah
Recap- Conshohocken Music Festival Featuring Marah
By Brian Coll
Photos by Jack and Brian Coll
It’s almost a week later and I am still thinking about what a great time the Conshohocken Music Festival was. This event didn’t happen without the hard work of Love Conshy and Morethanthecurve.com. We here at Conshystuff are thankful for the people at Love Conshy and Kevin from Morethanthecurve. Hopefully this can become an annual event.
I brought my little ones early in the day and it was a great set up. We didn’t get there early enough to see The First Notes, but Lolly & YoYo were great for the kids. They had the kids singing and dancing and moving around, they were great. Even the parents got involved. I also missed Sparkle Pony but hear good things. The Boatloads had just played at Washies the week before and made a few new fans and did a great job. Coast to Coast had a nice sound. I really noticed the lawn at the A-Field start to fill up around the time these guys were on. The bleachers were also available and there was some great things to eat from Pasta Via and Pepperoncini. I also had some gelato from Trattoria Tatorro. In between the main acts a local guy named Vince Zeller took a side stage and kept the music going. He was great. The Sofa Kings came on close to 7:00 and played for about an hour and had a great sound…..
Before Marah came on I got the chance to chat with the guys. At one point Serge walked over to the food area and grabbed a slice of pizza. I believe it was my sister Jackie who told him Pasta Via (where the pizza came from) is where Bolero’s used to be. Betty the owner of Pasta Via started talking about Bolero’s and Serge said he wrote a song about Bolero’s. I asked if it was a song from 20,000 Streets Under the Sky named Pizzeria… and sure enough it was. The song starts off like this….. Pizzeria I still see ya’ Even though you’re history….. how cool is that?
The highlight, well one of them of my night was getting to introduce my old friends and neighbors Dave and Serge Bielanko from the group Marah. I have written about Marah before so I’ll keep the summary of the history of the band on the short side…. they formed an early band on Forrest Street before branching out with some other members and recording their first album titled Let’s Cut the Crap and Hook up Later on Tonight. I was really happy to get the opportunity to introduce the band Marah. I have seen them a number of times over the years, but never in Conshohocken. This was their first show in their hometown. These guys have traveled the world, but to play here in Conshy was something special, not only to the fans of the band but the guys themselves. Dave and Serge came into the borough a little early in the day and showed Serge’s kids the old haunts. They hung outside of the old house on Forrest Street, took some photos. I bet they took a peek down 8th Avenue to show the kids the old candy store….Josie’s! The old alley is still there where it seemed so big as a kid but as an adult no where near as big as you remember it. The Sutcliffe park sledding hill is still there, and they were in Conshy just in time to see the new park equipment.
As I was hanging out by the stage getting ready to introduce them, I saw some other old friends, John DePietro and Kevin Duda. I played baseball with these guys years and years ago and have seen them a few times over the years. What I forgot was they played with Dave and Serge way back in the day and John was breaking out his saxophone. We were in for a little history. Once the band took the stage, they actually brought Kevin and John onto stage and Serge took a minute to bring them on stage, talking about growing up on Forrest street with their mom raising them and letting them use the attic for some space for activities. He told us the first name of the band….. The Rubberband….. so The Rubberband took the stage, I mean Marah with a couple of special guests and rocked. The first song the guys from Conshy played together was Round Eye Blues which is one of my favorite songs from the band. Next they broke out The Catfisherman ( I have to tell you, it was very cool to hear this song, it brought me back to a few fishing trips my dad took us on, I couldn’t tell you any of the places besides the Schuykill River we ever fished, the water wasn’t that great back in the 80’s but I remember fishing with Serge and Dave. I can tell you, they were both better than me and I see a few Facebook posts that suggest they have kept up with fishing over the years ). At some point Serge took the mic and had asked for Forrest Street between 8th and 9th to be renamed after him…. he gave a shout out to Mayor Frost and hoped he could make it happen. The next song for the reunited guys was my favorite song of theirs and Dave took a minute to recall writing it while working at the Bob Wilson Gulf station at 5th and Fayette. A song call Formula, Cola, Dollar Draft. If you have to look up something from Marah, give this song a chance. In addition to the old friends joining them on stage for a few songs, the band had another surprise for us. They brought Serges kids up on stage and they took some instruments and played with the band. I think the oldest is around 8 years old and the youngest is about 3 and a half, they all did great. I’m not being polite, but they can play. Anyone who was there saw the talent. Marah recently played the Hoagiefest in the city and the kids joined them on stage there and blew the crowd away. It was a great set and those in attendance enjoyed themselves and the sound itself was great. The guys who built the stage and worked the event from a musical level did a great job.
The A-Field made a great backdrop to the event. It was very special to me, having played football on that field for years and even seeing shows back in the day there….. I remember a lip synch contest put on at the A-Field years ago, seeing a number of the fireworks shows there for the 4th of July. I had some great moments as an athlete there and recently was very proud to be at the A-Field when my high school football coach was honored with a plaque dedication. Having said that, my all time favorite moment at the A-Field and honestly any concert I have ever been to, and that is well over 100 concerts in my life…..
Marah has been playing for some time now and they were getting ready to wrap up the night, the band tells the crowd to come closer to the stage for the last song… out of the corner of my eye I catch the youngest Bielanko son walking across the field by the stage slowly pulling down his pants….. he looks around and drops them to the ground and starts “turning on the sprinklers” at the A-Field. I believe it was Dave who saw him from the stage and said into the mic…. “Charlie put yer pants on” Damn it was so funny to me, his mom caught him a second later, but I will never forget that as long as I live. That is the greatest concert moment of my life and it had nothing to do with the song, with the person I was with, with the meaning of certain musicians on stage together. It was about a kid being a kid and damn it was great.
I hope Love Conshy and Morethanthecurve can put together this event in the future.
I am glad I got to see my old friends, I am grateful that I was given the chance to introduce them to the crowd. I’m really thankful I got to hang out with them before and after the show and we got a chance to talk with my dad, my sister and my girlfriend who saw her first Marah show. It was cool meeting Serge’s kids and Monica. My kids got to play with them early in the evening and it was like a mini Forrest Street Reunion, but with a new generation. I hope Conshohocken can do this every year with Marah and maybe some other bands with ties to Conshohocken.
Here are some photos…. okay, a lot of photos. Look for more on our Facebook page at some point.