So... MARAH is Coming Home By Jack Coll
MARAH IS COMING HOME
Welcome Back Dave and Serge
By Jack Coll
The past few weeks’ interest in the rock-band Marah has gained a little excitement with five or six people approaching me with “Hey Jack, you know them guys don’t you?”
The interest, excitement and questions come due to the announcement of the band returning home to play the Conshohocken Music-Festival at the Conshohocken A-Field this Saturday night. The last big concert held at the Conshohocken A-Field was the group Blackthorn about ten years ago, the largest concert in town before that was Leon Russell back in the early 1970’s, that’s this whole other story.
The answer to the question is “yea, I know Dave and Serge and yes residents should be excited.” I lived at 810 Forrest Street for 28 years. During that time Dave and Serge along with their mother Marian lived at the corner of Ninth Avenue and Forrest Street, less that 100 yards from us, then they moved into McClure’s house about fifty yards from us, then they moved into 806 Forrest Street, about 20 feet away.
So let’s cut-to-the-chase here, you’re not reading this to get a residence history but to hear a good story or two. I could tell you about the time or times growing up on Forrest street or playing Little League Baseball and Football, (bla-bla-bla). Wha-da-ya say we tell a good Marah story.
So some years ago, (I’m not stopping to look up the excact year) Dave approached me and said his band had cut an album and asked me if I would go to the “Recording Studio” to listen to the album, I immediately said yes. I’m thinking I’ve never been to Sigma-Sound studios in Philly, Man, David Bowie recorded there, Billy Joel and a number of others, this would be great. But then I thought maybe they recorded as Gamble and Huff’s studio, you know “The Sound of Philadelphia,” how many great acts have recorded there.
So I said to Dave where’s the studio, he replied “Meet me at a place called Frank’s Garage on some side street buried in South Philly and I’ll take you to the studio. So Donna, myself, and Dave and Serge’s mother Marian whom we were and still are good friends with jump in my van and off to South Philly we go. I get to Frank’s Garage and we are in the center of “Good-Fella’s” playground, you could just smell the mob at both ends of the street.
So I’m pumped to head to the studio and check out some music, the studio was over Frank’s Garage, Frank and a few other mechanics are in the garage beating some muffler to death and we climb the stops to the studio. So for an hour and a half I sat on the floor listening to this music and I remember thinking “these boys are going places.”
So the band needed an album cover and I happened to have a camera so we set aside a day for taking pictures in an attempt to come up with some really exciting photographs that might be considered for the cove of their album.
The boys had no idea what they were looking for so that sent us on a day-long quest to come up with just the right Photograph. It was a day full of driving around the city and every once in a while I would say, “OK Boys, jump out of the band and go set up there, or there. At one point I pulled over in the center of Broad Street, the guys jumped out of the van with a snare drum, and a couple of Guitars and set up looking like a band in the center of Broad Street. I’m snapping pictures like crazy thinking we’re gonna get arrested, I got this band set up n the middle of Broad Street with traffic rushing by on both sides of us, and I’m gonna have to explain to Marian how and why I got her boys arrested, we quickly moved on.
I remember stopping in front of the Uptown Theater and setting up for a few photos, we stopped in front of one of the well-known Philly Diners, we spent time at a corner church near the studio, (Frank’s Garage) we might have hit City Hall and I decided to get out of town.
So we headed up into the country, via Collegeville, I had this friend who owned several acres with some farm equipment, I thought we might grab a good shot or two so off we went.
So we get back to the studio, (Frank’s Garage) and Dave said we have a neat little song on the album called “Boat” and there’s a bar around the corner from the studio, (Frank’s Garage) called Noah’s Ark, that might be a pretty cool picture. So off we go around the corner and the guys set up at Noah’s front door with the sign “Noah’s Ark” above them. So I’m snapping pictures and wishing the front door of the bar was closed because it would make for a better picture. So I’m moving around like any good photographer trying to get the perfect angle when a couple guys show up at the front door talking and pointing.
One of the guys came out of the bar, a pretty big ol’ boy and says “wha-da-ya doing.” I replied “Taking pictures.” He’s said wha-da-ya gonna do with the pictures, so I got a little cute, “Oh I don’t know, whatever I damn well please.” So we started to walk away and this guy’s gonna follow us and I’m thinking, I think we made a mistake, I remember thinking this Noah’s Bar isn’t just some corner bar in Philly, this might be a mob owned establishment and I just spent fifteen minutes pushing a zoom lens through their front door snapping pictures of some good-fella’s.”
So we ‘re walking back to the studio, (Frank’s Garage) and this “good-fella” is following us and now I’m thinking he’s gonna grab my camera and smash the shit out of it and I remember thinking how expensive the camera was. Then I start thinking this guy’s gonna kill us, the whole band and I’m gonna have to explain to Marian why her boys were gunned down on a South Philly street in front of the studio, (Frank’s Garage). Now I’m wishing we had gotten arrested on Broad Street. We turned into the stairway and disappeared up the steps over Frank’s Garage, I moved to the window and the good-fella was gone.
On the way back from the farm in Collegeville we were traveling along Route 29, this two-lane highway with a lot of twist and turns and we were pretty much done for the day, I had taken hundreds of photographs and felt that we might have landed a good shot in front of the Uptown Theatre or at Sutcliffe Park, (we shot a number of pictures in and around Conshy) So while traveling along Route 29, I passed this old garage with this big-ol car sitting at the end of the lot and I pulled a U-turn, I had like two or three black and white photographs left on the roll of film I was using. I told the ban to jump out of the van, no instruments necessary and thy gather around this car, the shoot took all of ten seconds, I used my final two or three shots and off we went.
Later the boys plow through all the photographs, Noah’s Ark and all, (By the way, the pictures of Noah’s Ark stunk) I wasn’t aware of what photograph they would use, but when the album “Let’s Cut The Crap, and Hook Up Later on Tonight” came out I was a little surprised, There they were in all their glory sitting on the bumper of this old car, it was a throw-away shot, it was perfect.
Welcome home boys, Rock-on!!
I of course will be at the A-Field on Saturday night, I’ll be the one with the camera in my hands.