The Miners….dig, tunnel, scoop, unearth, reveal, lay bare, bring to light
From time to time people send me links to their music, and I always take the time to give it a listen and see where it might take me. Some folks have suggested I might be wasting my time writing and sharing music that is local rather than international, home grown rather than corporate. I reply the same way every time and it goes like this: Once upon a time I toiled in the distribution of music. When I would sit in front of a buyer who had limited resources, I would make a business decision. This group of music were priorities and needed to be placed, featured and promoted. That group lacked resources and potential, therefore they were less important and could be left on the warehouse shelves where we’d dust them off from time to time. In the world of art as commodity, this is often what happens…and I’ve just skipped over the mountain of lobbying, politics and the very deep, dark side of music as a transactional event.
When the business left me in the dust back in 2007, it became a liberating event in that I could now revert back to music fan from product pimp, and begin to listen again with open ears and without the need to sit in judgement of things like statistical salability and return on investment. And in March of 2009 when I began to drop these posts onto the pages of this site, it was probable that I could take the opportunity to make amends for the evil things I may have done, real or imagined.
Keith Marlowe, who writes, plays guitar, sings lead and recorded The Miners first EP at his studio (aka: his basement), first reached out to me almost two months and sucked me in with that magic word: Philadelphia. My ancestral homeland, where I grew up playing in garage bands, had a tiny bit of success playing at the [Human] Be-Ins of the sixties,the political rally circuit in Rittenhouse Square, the original Electric Factory on Arch Street, one of several bands to play regularly at Hecate’s Circle in Germantown and the pinnacle of our little pre-alt.country band’s career…opening for Bonnie Raitt.
The Miners. Why don’t you hit the play button and just let the music wash over you as you read?
This is a folk tale about folk music. Guitars, bass, drums. Garages, basements, community centers, clubs. High school, college, grad school. Some leave the instruments back at their parent’s house. Some take them with. New friendships. New bands. New music. New relationships. New sounds. New tastes. New needs. New priorities. Jobs. Careers. Family. Music hanging on the tree, waiting to be harvested.
The Miners…metaphorically from A to Z:
A. Keith Marlowe (lead vocals, guitar), Andy Shahan (drums, vocals), David Thornburgh (pedal steel and lap steel guitars), and Scott Donnini (bass, vocals).
B. The Miners’ original lineup consisted of pieces of two late 1980’s Philadelphia bands, Tornado 5 (Keith Marlowe and Andy Shahan) and The Bensons (Matt Maguire and Jeff Smith). In early 2009, Matt and Jeff left The Miners, but Keith and Andy decided to push on and retool the lineup with Keith taking on lead vocal and songwriting duties.
C. Deciding to lead The Miners deeper into the alt country sound they had become known for, they employed Reckless Amateurs lead guitarist, David Thornbugh, to play pedal steel and lap steel guitars. They also brought in former Hogan’s Goat bass player, Scott Donnini, thus reuniting the Hogan’s Goat rhythm section (Andy played drums in Hogan’s Goat as well).
D. Andy, the drummer, and Keth have been playing together since high school. Tornado 5 played Philly joints and even a few NYC gigs at CBGBs and Kenny’s Castaways. They opened for bands like Yo La Tengo and other mostly alternative acts that came through Philly. Andy’s father is the lead bass player for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Andy is opening a restaurant/bar in Mt Airy. Keith is a lawyer.
E. David the pedal steel player, is an economist and the executive director of the Fels School of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.
F. Scott used to practice law, and now runs a vineyard in South Jersey.
There are thousands of weekend warriors who strap on guitars, plug into amps and arm themselves with drum sticks and picks, and spread out in search of a place to play and an audience to listen. They don’t get much recognition, hardly any dough, certainly no fame. Often they are inspired and creative. And often they are evocative and dull.
The Miners are an interesting bunch. And I like their tunes.
Keith tells me his personal musical pathway: Rush, Police, REM, Hoodoo Gurus, Pixies, Long Ryders, Uncle Tupelo, Big Star, Buck Owens, Hank Williams and Roger Miller. The Miners are “compared to everything from Wilco to Uncle Tupelo to Green on Red to Flying Burrito Bros to New Riders of the Purple Sage”, says Keith. “My personal view is a mix of Whiskeytown and Son Volt, with some more traditional country thrown in.”
I’ve been listening to this EP off and on for a few weeks and it makes me feel good. And I respect it…respect in the sense that they started as kids, still take the time to create new music and have a passion to pass it down. It has a place at this table. Its another story of “everyman”…as they are us.
No Depression: https://www.nodepression.com/profile/TheMiners