Cross-over bands have been gaining popularity in recent years and bluegrass punks Old Man Markley are clearly one of today’s standouts. Topping Billboard’s bluegrass charts while being predominantly accepted by the Fat Wreck Chords crowd, OMM have pulled off what would have seemed impossible five years ago.
The band recently found made their way to the Asbury Lanes, in Asbury Park, New Jersey in support of their new album “Down Side Up” and I was lucky enough to cover the occasion. You can check out my full review and phone camera quality pictures here.
It should be known that the Asbury Lanes is not your typical music venue by any means. The venue’s stage is situated between fully functional bowling lanes. The standing area by the stage is minuscule, but there are plenty of chairs and couches to accommodate a decent sized crowd. There is a bar and food counter, and a few steps away there is yet another closed off bar area adorned with punk rock inspired art. The atmosphere of the joint tends to attract most punk rock bands that have find themselves to the east coast.
The opening band, Secret Country, a country act from a few towns over walked on stage at 9:15. By that time the crash of pins could be heard from all directions, and punks, bikers, and cowboys were bowling in harmony. Not many people seemed too interested in their set, and only a couple of people found their way over to the stage to watch their performance. They kept the banter to a minimum, simply introducing their songs as “another song about beer and whiskey” and “a song about hot dogs and beer”. The crowd was generally unresponsive, save for the times they mentioned Old Man Markley, but that did not seem to deter the band one bit. They pulled their merch guy, obviously a close friend, on stage to sing vocals on their final song of the night, which received a decent amount of applause and sent several people over to their table to pick up some CDs.
After a quick tuning and sound check, it did not take Old Man Markley long to come on stage and for the small crowd to quickly fill the floor. Thanks to the recent expansion of the venue’s stage, the seven-piece band fit comfortably with plenty of room to move around. The band immediately jumped into their set, starting with “Hand Me Down” off of their recent release “Down Side Up”. In the middle of the set an audience member shouted out a request, and the band graciously played the tune. Frontman John Carey took a few minutes to thank everyone for coming out, and state how the show was almost canceled due to their bus breaking down and an unexpected mid-march snowstorm. (Side note: It seems that every time Old Man Markley has come to New Jersey, their bus has broken down.) Even so, kazoos were played, high fives were given out from John Carey to the audience members, and the promised to hang around after the show. Although the band was high in energy and spirits, and bassist Joey “Balls” reminiscent of the energizer bunny, the crowd did not loosen until more than halfway through the set. During “In A Circle Going Round”, everyone was instructed to dance, and invited to dance on stage. Old Man Markley ended their set with “For Better, For Worse,” leaving everyone on high spirits. Although, a few minutes later they re-entered the stage after much chanting to perform an encore. The band played “Guts ‘N Teeth”, “Do Me Like You Do”, “Too Soon To Say Goodnight” their cover of Dr. Dre’s “Forgot About Dre” to close out the show. Even though Old Man Markley packed 24 songs into a nearly two hour set, it felt much too short, and the good night did in fact come too soon.
“Hand Me Down”
“Science Of Myth” – Screeching Weasel cover
“At The Bottom”
“Living And Learning”
“Up Side Down”
“In A Circle Going Round”
“Hard To Understand”
“Come Around Here”
“Blood On My Hands”
“Train Of Thought”
“For Better For Worse”
“Guts N Teeth”
“Do Me Like You Do”
“Too Soon To Say Goodnight”
“Forget About Dre”
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