MILLHEIM - David Bielanko and Christine Smith are the two dedicated musicians who make up Marah Acoustic Duo. Marah - as a project - has been through a great number of changes and evolutions over the years.
Take a taste before their show by visiting www.marah-usa.com.
Marah will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at Elk Creek Cafe and Aleworks, 100 Main St.
Marah Acoustic Duo will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at Elk Creek Cafe and Aleworks, 100 Main St., Millheim.
APRIL LINE: What can people expect from a live show? Is it just the two of you now or do you have a whole band?
DAVID BIELANKO: Right now, we're just doing these acoustic shows. Having played so many rock 'n' roll shows in our lives, it's something we enjoy a great deal. People take an entirely different thing away from the duo. It's very appropriate at this point in time, especially when we go hole up and make records, it's cool to be able to go out and share it comes out on a different level lyrically and musically. It's more profound.
AL: I thought your songs available online were profound. I liked what you were doing with mixing.
DB: Recording has always been very experimental for us. Even our first record had tons of horns and street noise from Philadelphia. We were just unintimidated. It seems like some of the best art out there is made by people who don't exactly know what they're doing. They're kind of fearless and take on anything.
AL: Talk about the decision to use old school recording methods, reels, rubbing alcohol, tape and the like.
DB: Honestly, I was just losing the ability to perform in front of a computer. It seems so fleeting and we were constantly saying, "we'll fix it later." We started to get less and less musical with each other. Songs were written, but even that gets affected, because you don't have the feeling of what it's like to play with people in a room. We're trying to get back to that. Inevitably, it'll be something deeper when it's done like that and we're trying to stay intimately involved.
AL: How'd you find your way to central PA?
DB: This place means more than any other place in the world to me. From the time I was 12 or 13 years old, we were coming to a deer camp here in Sugar Valley. I experienced the first cool things in life here, like listening to a Ramones record [and] whatever other things teenagers get up to [laughs]. We'd come up here to get our thoughts together and go back to the city. In 2009, we realized we could rent an old house and finish a record. We were like, "this is not Brooklyn anymore," but it felt like home.
AL: Tell me about the songwriting process between you and Christine.
DB: As long as we're not punching each other out! You learn as you grow up that you have to put it away sometimes. Christine is a super talented musician, so there's nobody else I'd rather be leading this ship with. It's working right now and there are a million different things to explore. I come from a rock 'n' roll background and she comes from a different one. From day one, it opened a whole bunch of music that I was really interested in.
AL: So you're due to put a new album out this year? Talk about how that's going.
DB: We're working on two separate things. This is my favorite time to be in a band, when the creative process is full on. It can get really tight financially, but it's fun, and you figure out ways to keep going.
AL: Tell me about touring in Spain.
DB: It was beautiful. That's a place we've gone twice a year since I was 25. I love playing to those audiences. It's an awesome culture, they're fantastic people. They love music. They will call you out if you're not doing it for real.
AL: I noticed you seem to have a relationship with Elk Creek Cafe & Aleworks. Do you?
DB: I'm glad you asked. The whole situation is that we're very close friends. They embraced us as soon as we got to this area. The community and people who run the place are just inspiring. It's like a renaissance is happening there. It'd definitely be worth it for folks in your reading area to go out there. It has integrity and an idea, and it's really cool to see it happening. You don't see that in South Philly or New York.