The Miners
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The Miners

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | SELF

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2007
Band Americana Country




"Grateful Web Interview with The Miners"

Philadelphia’s alt-country and Americana quartet, The Miners, recently released their first full length album, Megunticook on Match-Up Zone Music. Named for the lake in Maine band leader Keith Marlowe has visited since he was a child, and the ten original songs capture the songsmith’s sincere, authentic take on life experiences and highlight tight vocal harmonies, driving guitars and the undeniable country sound of the pedal steel guitar.

Grateful Web sat down with Marlowe to discuss the new record, being influenced by Gram Parsons and Jason Isbell, and their annual charity concert event that donates proceeds to survivors of breast cancer.
GW: The album, Megunticook was named for a lake in Maine where you spent your childhood summers. What inspired you to name your album for that body of water and that time in your life?
Keith Marlowe: The area in Maine where Megunticook Lake is located is called Mid-Coast Maine and the town where the lake is primarily located is Camden, Maine. I did spend my childhood summers there as my parents had a summer cottage on the pond that feeds into Megunticook Lake (the pond, Norton’s Pond, is a song off The Miners’ first EP, Miners’ Rebellion). The area is special to me not only for the great memories I had there as a child, but we continue to visit there almost every summer with my wife and kids also having great affection for the area. When coming up with album titles, I was thinking through lots of options including using song titles, names that related to the band’s name and names that may have personal meaning. I got down to two names, Megunticook and Leaving for Ohio (the second song on the album). When discussing with my graphic artist the two names I was considering, he loved Megunticook because even though he also lives in Philly, he frequently visits Maine and has been to Megunticook Lake. So that it was almost destiny. I sent him some pictures I had taken over the years of the lake and he ended up using a photo I shot as the front cover, which I took from top of a popular hike called Maiden’s Cliff. At the top of the cliff is a large metal cross (visible from certain spots on the lake) where, in the 1800s, a young girl fell to her death when her hat blew off and she went to retrieve it.

GW: You weren't the original frontman of The Miners, and now you're both the frontman and primary songwriter. How did that change come to be?

Marlowe: The Miners was formed by me and a friend, Matt Maguire, who played in another Philly-based band in the late 80’s/early 90’s (I played in another band during that time that was more of an indie/college radio rock band). Around 2006, Matt started to play some solo acoustic shows. We had written and recorded some songs together over the years so he asked if I would be interested in joining him for future shows, playing guitar and even singing a few songs I had written (I took a 15-year hiatus from playing in bands but continued to write and record music during that period). This was start of The Miners, which ended up morphing into a full band, with me playing lead guitar and singing a handful of songs I had written.

After playing live shows as The Miners for a couple years and doing some demos in my home studio, Matt decided he wasn’t into playing live shows. I was really enjoying being in a band again and, for the first time in my life, writing and singing my own songs (I had written music in my former band but was not the frontperson/lyricist). I decided that since I was already singing a few songs of my own, I would keep the band going and take a stab at being the frontman, focus on writing new material, and push the band towards the sound I wanted, which was more of an alt-country sound (my songs were more alt country than Matt’s, which leaned more in the power pop direction). I decided I wanted to find a pedal steel guitarist to countrify the band’s sound and take it in the direction I was envisioning. I was able to secure one and that was how The Miners came to be with me as the frontman and the instrumentation that is still in place (though with a different lineup of players.)

GW: Without You was written for your wife after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience of songwriting to process your emotions around such a heavy time in your lives?

Marlowe: Songwriting seems to help me cope with losses or difficult situations. “Doggone” off of Miners’ Rebellion, for example, I wrote after losing our Yellow Lab of thirteen years. When my wife told me she was diagnosed with breast cancer, my first thought was I didn’t want to lose her as we have known each other since 4th grade. I wasn’t necessarily trying to write a song about her having breast cancer, but it was weighing heavily on my mind when I started writing music as an outlet. I don’t recall the specifics, but I do remember that this song seemed to all come together fairly quickly with me writing both the music and lyrics (or at least coming up with the lyrical concept) at the same time. I am typically a music first, lyrics last writer. But in writing “Without You” both the words and music seemed to flow out together. One note about “Without You” is that there are no clues that the song is about breast cancer and the only clue that it’s not about a break-up, a divorce or being lonely (I have noted that it was written pre-COVID so, it’s not about missing someone during COVID) is the line “when I heard that you got sick.” That’s the only clue. This was not done intentionally, just something I have realized now that people ask me to talk about the song.

GW: You write a lot about people you know – your wife, your daughter, your grandmother, your drummer – what is it about real people that inspire you to tell these stories?

Marlowe: I find it easier and most satisfying to write about my own experiences and people I know (save for a few exceptions.) Sometimes these experiences inspire me to write a song or sometimes when I’m trying to think about what to write about, I start thinking about my own experiences or people close to me. We talked about my wife (“Baby Boots” is also about her.) “Leaving for Ohio” is about my daughter leaving for college (she is my oldest child.) “Natalie” I call my “Allison” (the Elvis Costello song), about seeing my grandmother suffer through dementia and eventually pass. Finally, “Day the Drummer Died” is about my high school drummer who was killed in a car wreck at sixteen. It took me years to be able to write something about him that I felt was able to honor him appropriately.

GW: You also write about people you don't know and imagine what their lives are like. How did you come to write about "Black Bart?" How did his story grab your attention?

Marlowe: For Miners’ Rebellion, I wanted to write a song that had a tie to the band name. I started doing research on stories about miners and ended up writing a song about the Battle of Blair Mountain, which was a bloody fight by miners attempting to unionize in the 1920’s that resulted in 100 miners being killed, which ended up as the title track. “Black Bart” was one of the first songs I wrote after Miners’ Rebellion was released so maybe I was thinking that because Miners’ Rebellion worked, maybe I should try and write another song about an historical event or figure. I have always liked the old West, cowboy movies, outlaws, etc. so I started looking into the stories about famous Western outlaws. The story of Black Bart intrigued me because he supposedly never killed anyone when he was robbing stagecoaches and he left a poem he had written at the scene of each crime. I took some of those poems and used them in the chorus of the song.

GW: You draw a lot from the bands who inspire you like Neil Young, Burrito Brothers, Jason Isbell. How do those artists inform and inspire your own songwriting?

Marlowe: This is not a novel statement, but I believe all musicians are influenced by what they listen to and draw from the music they like. Some musicians wear their influences directly on their sleeves and others it may be harder to discern who those influences are. The goal is to take those influences, write your own songs, and try and achieve a sound that is your own. That sound may not be totally unique, which is fine, because there are tons of great bands and songwriters that weren’t attempting to do anything totally unique, and they are some of the greatest artists of all time. Many great early country artists were merely trying to be copycats of the then current successful artists (everyone was copying Hank Williams in the 50s). For me, musicians/bands that I love inspire me to write songs that are as good as theirs, even if I never get there. Certainly, some of the artists you cite may have a more direct connection because our sound may be somewhat similar. I may hear a song that I love and try and write in that vein but I know I can never be Jason Isbell or Gram Parsons so I try and listen to what makes their songs great and then try and apply that to my own songwriting. That could mean structure, that could mean instrumentation like inspiring me to write an acoustic driven song or maybe even a general lyrical topic like writing about loss, love, etc.

GW: You played Philadelphia in January to benefit Breast Cancer research – which has become an annual event. Tell us about how you started organizing these shows.

Marlowe: This ties back to “Without You” and my wife’s breast cancer diagnosis. Once my wife was through her treatment (and fortunately she caught it early and is OK), I told her I wanted to do something to help some of the organizations that supported her through her treatments. I came up with the idea of putting on a benefit to raise money. I told my wife to pick the charity that the show would benefit, and I would handle everything else like securing a venue, booking other bands, and promoting the event. I got World Café Live onboard, which is a great Philly venue that is in the same building as WXPN, and we have held the show every year since 2015 (save for 2020 for obvious reasons). The event has been close to a sell out every year in the smaller room at World Café Live which holds about 220 people. All the bands donate their services and we have raised over $10,000 for charities like Living Beyond Breast Cancer, which helps woman live with the disease both through and after their treatments. The event features us and one or two other bands playing throughout the night but the charity takes some time onstage to inform everyone about the organization, has an info table, holds drawings, etc. Besides the charity angle, what differs from a typical show of ours is that people aren’t there just to see the bands (though the bands to provide much of the draw). There is always a group of breast cancer survivors there to support the charity, and we have a strong group of attendees that have come almost every year no matter who is playing. This year’s event was rescheduled from the 2020 event that was cancelled due to COVID.

GW: It took you a few years to write this album. Tell us a little bit about that process and what you learned about making an album over that period of time.

Marlowe: The songs were actually written over a ten-year period. The oldest song, “Call Me Up”, was written before I actually became The Miners frontman but it just didn’t make onto Miner’s Rebellion. Megunticook is essentially all of the songs that I had written for The Miners since formation but had not yet been released. Most of them we had performed live, they just never got onto tape (or computer.) I started thinking about the follow up to Miners’ Rebellion in 2015 but it really took until almost 2018 to start making demos and the process for recording the album began at the end of 2019. Some of that was due to lineup changes and having a group of musicians that played enough live shows together for me to be comfortable to go into the studio with them (and likewise they were motivated enough to join me.) I joke that this album took longer than Boston’s third album to release! Off course once we began working on the album and were in the midst of mixing the first batch of songs when COVID hit, which denied us access to the studio we were working in for some period. Fortunately, the overdubs were recorded at my home studio so I was able to work on them during shutdowns since for a bult of the parts like guitars and vocals, I was recording myself. Eventually, we got comfortable enough with masks and social distancing that I was able to get my pedal steel players and some others to do their overdubs at my house. But we lost about six months in the process when the studio where we recorded basic tracks and mixed had to shut down for several months.

GW: What do you hope listeners take away from the album?

Marlowe: I hope people enjoy the songs and the music. I am a big music listener/consumer myself and I just love to discover great new music. If the music or song touches someone in a certain way, inspires them, or helps them through a tough time, then even better. I write music for myself and try and write songs that I really enjoy listening to and playing. Songs that easily fit into my music playlists or if I’m having a vinyl listening session in my living room, I want to put on the turntable (Megunticook is now out on vinyl). My hope is that others with similar tastes in music will like the album whether that is listeners or those in the media (print/digital, radio, podcasts). If so, then that gives me some affirmation that people beyond my inner circle think we have something worthwhile. And so far, those that have listened to Megunticook, seem to really like it. The challenge is getting people to discover and listen to it.

GW: What's next for the miners?

Marlowe: Right now, it’s getting people to listen to the album. That and playing some live shows this year. Finally, starting to write new songs. When we started on Megunticook, I decided to intentionally stop writing songs as I didn’t want to wrestle with whether I should add a new song to the album given how long it took to start and finish the album. I have definitely been thinking about starting to write again and then from there, who knows. Could be another release but I think that may depend on how Meguniticook is ultimately received. - Grateful Web

"Isolation Drills: Keith Marlowe (The Miners)"

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area had been staying at home because of the pandemic, learning to adapt to a “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’d been doing during this unprecedented time.

Marlowe: The pandemic has certainly impacted people in many different ways. Fortunately, at this point, my family did not lose anyone to COVID, nor did anyone in my family have a case that caused them to be hospitalized. But like most, COVID disrupted the way we had previously conducted our lives and, for me, impacted both my band, the Miners, and my home/work life.

I am not a full-time musician. And while I don’t consider the Miners just a hobby, as it is much more than that, my main source of income is as an attorney running my own business-law practice. So the pandemic did not have the economic effect I know others in the music industry suffered, including friends who are full-time musicians, venue owners, and bookers. However, it greatly impacted the Miners release of Megunticook (our album that was issued on October 22 of this year), our live performances and my own focus on music.

For the Miners, the pandemic’s biggest impact, was delaying the completion and release of Megunticook. In early 2020, we were in the midst of working on the album and had completed basic tracks for all but two of the songs at MilkBoy Studio in Philly. Overdubs were being recorded at my home studio, which I call Match-Up Zone Studio, and then we went back to Milkboy to mix. While working on mixing the first batch of songs, the pandemic struck, resulting in MilkBoy being shut down due to Philly’s stay-at-home order. I was attending mixing sessions at MilkBoy, and even when not attending, refinements were being done in the studio by engineer Cody Cichowski.

When the studio shutdown, all the work on the album being done at MilkBoy came to a hault, resulting in a five-month delay in the mixing process. Fortunately, because most of the basic tracks were completed pre-pandemic, I pivoted and started focusing on overdubs at my home studio. Initially, this was not a problem, because a large portion of the overdubs were being done by me including lead vocals and nearly all the guitar parts. But once I had completed a good portion of those, I needed my pedal-steel player and others to come in and cut their parts. Initially, those players and I were apprehensive about getting together in my basement to record parts. But we eventually, in the summer of 2020, got to a point where we were comfortable enough doing sessions wearing masks, which allowed the project to move forward again. And once MilkBoy opened back up in late summer, we were able to resume mixing.

Along with delaying the recording process, which was completed in early-July 2021 when the album was mastered, the pandemic continues to impact the vinyl release of Megunticook. I made a decision early on the album would be released on vinyl, and when, in early 2021, I could finally sense the album would finally be completed, I began contacting vinyl-production plants about producing our album. At that time, plants were busy but were still quoting anywhere from a six-to-12 week turnaround time, though a few were telling me they were looking at 2022 if I committed in early 2021. When I was finally ready to commit around June 2021, a lot more of them were out to 2022 including the one I was ready to use.

I had to circle back with several plants and expand my search further, but I finally got one to commit to delivery prior to our release date of October 22 or at least prior to our record release show on October 29. Unfortunately, supply-chain delays outside of the control of the plant caused them to miss those dates (we did a record-release show with no records), but we finally have records.

Like every other live performer, we had several gigs cancelled due to the pandemic—the first, and biggest, being our annual Breast Cancer benefit held upstairs at World Cafe Live. The scheduled date was April 2020, and we were already selling advance tickets to the show, which has sold out nearly every year. World Cafe Live’s booking agent contacted me in mid-March about re-scheduling, and at that time, were hoping to re-schedule before year end. (Who knew?) That obviously did not occur, and the show is now our next scheduled show on January 8.

The next domino to fall was a May 2020 show at Jamey’s House Of Music, which their booking agent was hoping to reschedule in fall 2020. We were finally able to re-schedule that show for October 2021, and it ended up as our record-release show. Lastly, my late-’80s/early-’90s band Tornado 5 was scheduled to reunite for our first show since 1995 as part of a performance put together in honor of J.C. Dobbs and bands that played there during its heyday. That was supposed to occur in September 2020 at the now-closed Connie’s Ric Rac and never happened, though there is talk about trying to put it on next year at the soon-to-be opened Dobbs location.

We did, however, manage to play one live show during the summer of 2020, which was an outdoor show for the Cheltenham Township Summer Concert Series, which is held in a large arboretum/park. The township, subject to our comfort, decided to go on with the show since it was outdoors and there was ample space for people to spread out. (You could literally stay hundreds of feet from people if you wished to.) We rehearsed in masks at my house beginning in July 2020, and the show went on without incident in August.

Our first indoor show since the pandemic broke was this August at MilkBoy Center City supporting a touring act. Since the band was fully vaccinated, we were all comfortable playing the show and welcomed the return to playing live. The show went on as scheduled, though it wasn’t quite a return to normal. There was still some apprehension by fans to attend a show as the Delta variant was beginning to surge and the city re-imposed its mask mandate the day before our show. (Most venues at that time were not yet imposing vaccine requirements.) Our recent Jamey’s show definitely felt closer to normal, with a near full house and less apprehension by people seeing shows at venues requiring vaccines and, in some cases, mask requirements on top of that.

There was a positive for me that came from the pandemic, which was giving me time to focus on learning pedal-steel guitar. I had been playing for about two years on and off. With the band’s live schedule essentially being non-existent and recording moving at snail’s pace, I was able to focus my free time on learning the instrument. Although, I had a local teacher who was not giving in-person lessons due to the pandemic, I was able to find a teacher who did remote lessons (from Washington state) and enroll in some online classes. While I don’t profess to be any good at the instrument, it did accelerate my learning and probably took me from a solid beginner to low-intermediate player.

Shifting from music, the pandemic had a greater impact on my work/homelife. As noted, I am a business lawyer with my own practice, which I have conducted from my home since 2009. In that sense, the whole “work from home” shift didn’t impact me as much as others; although I did all of the sudden find myself on video calls multiple times a day instead of communicating through emails, cell-phone calls and the occasional in-person meeting. But because my wife is a sixth-grade teacher and in 2020, I had two children who were seniors (one in college and one in high school), instead of me working from an empty house during the day, it was all of the sudden filled with my wife teaching classes from home, and two kids attending classes from home when their respective schools shut down in-person learning and shifted to remote learning. (And forcing my kid in college to come home from school.) While eventually everyone adapted to remote teaching/learning, both my kids only experienced what I call COVID graduations and missed the full graduation experiences and everything that went with that like proms, senior days, graduation parties, etc. - Magnet Magazine

"Keith Marlowe of The Miners: “‘Megunticook’ is a Reflection of Where the Band is Today”"

When the original frontman of Americana quartet The Miners left the band, lead guitarist Keith Marlowe took over, moving them in the direction of their now alt-country sound. Both the band and his songwriting skills have grown over time with him as leader. And according to Marlowe, their latest endeavor, Megunticook, is an elevation in terms of songwriting, musical performances, production and final output measured against debut release Rebellion.

“The Miners is the first band I ever fronted,” Marlowe tells me. “I was a guitarist and wrote music for my prior bands (more indie/alternative than alt country) but I didn’t write lyrics for those bands. I took ten years off from playing in an original band and during that time started writing and recording my own songs. However, I sang a few of my own tunes I had recorded before The Miners were formed.”

Written over the span of nearly ten years, the songs that make up Megunticook capture the sound Marlowe has worked hard to develop since he’s been with the band. Some are self-portraits. Some pack an emotional punch. Almost all are accented by the enchanting, weeping tones of the pedal steel. The Miners have evolved from trying to gain a foothold to the material of Megunticook: a testament to the band’s collective confidence in the versatile sound Marlowe originally conceptualized.

“Since I was now the sole songwriter, it forced me to write more songs and Megunticook is really the result of the songs I have written either post-Rebellion or that didn’t make it onto Miners’ Rebellion,” he explains. “I think if you listen to the two releases back to back, Megunticook is much more diverse in terms of the songwriting and style of the songs — and that is a reflection of where the band is today, which can go from a quieter song like ‘Without You’ to a rocker like ‘Call Me Up’ to a more heavily country-flavored song like ‘Walnut Lane’ and still sound like The Miners. Every song has some country flair to it, though it comes through on some songs more prominently than others.”

Marlowe writes songs as a way of working through life’s multifarious challenges, and as a way of coping with emotional situations. “I tend to write about my own experiences save for a few songs like ‘Black Bart’ from Megunticook and ‘Miners’ Rebellion’ and ‘’W.T.A.’ from Rebellion. ‘Without You’ is me dealing with my wife’s breast cancer diagnosis and is probably my most emotional song, though not directly evident from the lyrics.”

Marlowe wrote “Natalie” after his grandmother who died of dementia. “Left behind all your paintings and memories,” he sings in the song’s chorus atop winding steel. He calls it his “Alison” — as in the Elvis Costello song. “Day the Drummer Died” is the lone track on the album in which Marlowe contributes his own pedal steel. “‘The Day The Drummer Died’ was me remembering my high school drummer/friend who was killed in a car accident at 16 (though written some 30 plus years later).”

“Cardboard Sign,” featuring mandolin, banjo, and fiddle, speaks from Marlowe’s experience seeing a teenage homeless girl and thinking “What if that were my daughter, what her own parents may be thinking, and how she got to such a place.”

Megunticook’s pedal steel arrangements, vocal harmonies, and other instrumental nuances align with the subject of each song. “Leaving For Ohio,” recently premiered on ABS, is a perfect example. “‘Leaving for Ohio’ was me dealing with my first child going off to college,” Marlowe says. The song is an honest look at the grief associated with your baby, not a baby anymore, flying the coop. When I think of what gives a band like Son Volt their purposeful presence, I think of hallmarks such as unpretentious immediacy, steel hooks, wistful vocal refrains — all of which are revealed in the track.

“I am very proud of the record’s production and performances and I have gotten great feedback from musician friends whose opinions I really respect on the release. The pedal steel (Brian Herder) really is integral to our sound and that is why it is on almost every song. I just love the instrument and what it adds and certainly makes our sound somewhat unique in a place like Philly. While there are other bands with pedal steel in Philly, it’s not as up front and center as it is with us.

“The overall production is a big step up from our EP, which was recorded entirely in my basement studio (on 8-track reel-to-reel). Megunticook was recorded partially at a large studio (basic tracks for the most part were recorded at MilkBoy the Studio in Philadelphia) with overdubs done at my home studio and then mixed back at MilkBoy.

“The current lineup has been together for close to five years and Brian is the best pedal steel player I have played with so that really helped get the performances I was looking for. I did have the advantage of doing nearly all the overdubs at my home studio so that gave me the luxury of working on my own parts (guitars, vocals and even pedal steel on one track) and engineering/producing when Brian or others came in for overdubs.”

“Walnut Lane” has a rousing countrypolitan meets Mudcrutch sound, with steel of course. In fact, the whole album maintains a honky tonk grit with refined production, which also reminds me of the super clean sounds of Flying Burrito Brothers. As a huge Gram Parsons fan, Marlowe is pleased to hear this. “I did try and get some different sounds that I was reaching for depending on the song. As a few examples, you mentioned ‘Walnut Lane’ which is one of the more country songs on the album but definitely has a ’70s California country-rock type sound I thought the song was trending towards when I started putting the guitar tracks down. Then a song like ‘Natalie,’ I was reaching more for a multi-electric Drive-by Truckers feel. ‘Call Me Up’ I was going for a sort of ‘70s Stones feel with the slide guitar and grittier electric.

“From a process standpoint, since I self-produced and, along with Cody Cichowski from MilkBoy, mixed the record, I had the sounds in mind going into the recording. So it was a matter of through both the recording and mixing process, getting onto “tape” (or in this case, computer) what I had in mind for the songs’ sounds. I always love the recording process and read magazines like Tape Op so putting something out that sounds like what I imagine does make me proud. I always say, every time I record I seem to improve on the last release and I think personally this is the best product I have ever released.”

As for the album title, Megunticook Lake in Camden, Maine is Marlowe’s family’s happy place. “Though my parents sold the (summer) house when I was young, my wife and I started going back to the area every year and still do. When I was batting around album titles, I was down to two and ran it by the graphic artist I hired from Philly and he was 100% behind Megunticook because he had been there!”

Marlowe wrote a song for the 2012 EP Rebellion called “Norton’s Pond,” which is named for the pond that feeds into Megunticook Lake. “From a music standpoint, I liked that tie between the two releases to the area. Finally, the front cover photograph I took from a hike we do every year called Maiden’s Cliff. The shot is from the top of the cliff where there is cross marking where in the 1800s a young girl fell to her death when her hat blew off her head and she tried to retrieve it.”

For a band that started by accident to begin with, Marlowe wasn’t necessarily looking at what they could bring to the ecosystem of Philadelphia music. When the band started, he had been out of the music scene entirely for so long that he didn’t know how to get a gig. Nonetheless, The Miners found bands close to the genre they could do shows with, which has built a culture of support and camaraderie. Now it seems they bring something big to a small but burgeoning Americana/alt-country scene.

“These went from country cover bands focusing on classic country to bluegrass bands to some other Americana/alt country bands. At the time we started, there were very few bands that were straight ahead alt-country in the vein of Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown, Son Volt, Blue Mountain, etc. and that was what we were going for. Maybe some thought that genre had run its course the way we were doing it. As the Americana moniker seems to have grown, I think there are now more bands we can find that are complementary music-wise to play with than back in 2007. And certainly as a big city, Philly gets the name alt country/Americana acts coming though town especially since there are more good venues in the 300-3000 capacity than there ever has been in Philly. Finally, we do have one of the best NPR music stations in the country in WXPN, which in addition to playing Americana artists in regular rotation, even has an Americana show once a week.”

Megunticook is available now via Marlowe’s Match-up Zone Music on 12” 180-gram vinyl and also digitally. The Miners have been performing in support of the new album, including their upcoming sixth annual event at World Cafe Live benefiting breast cancer charities on Saturday, January 8, 2022. - American Blues Scene

"Video Premiere: The Miners “Without You”"

The debut full-length album from The Miners has been a long time coming. It’s taken the best part of a decade to put together the songs on ‘Megunticook’, the follow-up to the 2012 EP ‘Miners’ Rebellion’. Frontman Keith Marlowe explains “‘Megunticook’ is a big step up from Miners’ Rebellion with everything from songwriting, musical performances, production and final output all being at a higher level. The songs, while written over a span of nearly ten years, have the thread of mostly my own personal experiences and feelings and capture the sound of the band I have been developing since taking over as frontman in 2009 (two years after the band’s formation). My songwriting and singing has developed over that time allowing me to expand the band’s sound from ‘Miners’ Rebellion’, though I am still proud of the songs from that EP and those songs fit seamlessly into our live sets alongside ‘Megunticook’s’ tracks. Though I started thinking about the follow up to ‘Miners’ Rebellion’ in 2016 with band lineup changes and life events, it wasn’t until 2018 when demos were finally recorded. As I joke, ‘this seems to have taken longer than Boston’s third album to finally be released’ considering the nine-year span between releases and me talking about our new upcoming album for past three years.”

This gorgeous country ballad is the opening song on the new record and it immediately captures the listener’s attention with close harmonies and the irresistible sliding beauty of Brian Herder’s Dobro and pedal steel. There’s an engaging, disarming sincerity in the lyrics, which carry a real depth of feeling and were inspired by Marlowe’s wife’s diagnosis and subsequent recovery from breast cancer back in 2014. Marlowe’s pure delivery, underpinned by warm backing vocals, does justice to the subject matter. In the accompanying video, premiered here on AUK, Bob Sweeney has managed to capture the band’s skill and musicianship. Together, these excellent players create a rich, full sound and it’s delightful to see them perform.

‘Megunticook’, named after the Maine lake that Marlowe frequently visited as a child, is out now. For fans of authentic country and timeless Americana sounds, The Miners’ debut is a joy. check it out. - Americana UK

"Interview: The Miners’ Keith Marlowe Talks “Megunticook,” Learning Pedal Steel, And Vinyl Love"

Philadelphia-based alt-country and Americana band The Miners have released an album long in the making, Megunticook, which takes in a span of a number of years of songwriting for band leader Keith Marlowe. Their first release in 2012, the EP Miner’s Rebellion, set the tone for their future work, but Marlowe’s songwriting was only just getting started and Megunticook brings out some very personal storytelling and commentary, tracking universal human experiences, but grounding them in specific experiences drawn from Marlowe’s life.

The Miners’ single “Without You” debuted on Americana Highways and illustrated this trajectory for the album, taking an experience from Marlowe’s life, his wife’s battle with cancer, and expanding on it to encompass feelings of separation, uncertainty, and connection that just about any audience could find relevant. We spoke with Keith Marlowe about the genesis of the new songs, his own journey into learning how to play and write for the pedal steel, and the joys of collecting vinyl.

Americana Highways: I know you have an album release show coming up, but I also know that a lot of the song on the new album go back in time for you. Have you played all of these live at some point yet?

Keith Marlowe: Yes, almost every song that is on the album have been played live. There are a couple where the type of song means that the instrumentation is something that we don’t typically play live. But I used to do solo or duo acoustic shows, and if you count that, every song has been played live. I think the oldest song on this album may go back to 2008. These are really songs that we’ve played but I never recorded and put out.

Then, when we got into the process of deciding to record and put out an album, I wanted to make sure there was a group of songs that we could focus on getting out there before writing new songs. My fear was that I was going to start writing a new batch of songs, and then I’d confuse myself, and wonder if I should put them on the new album. I cut it off! Other than “Day The Drummer Died” and “Cardboard Sign,” those songs are regulars in our sets.

AH: When you’ve written something new, when do you bite bullet and play it live? Does that make you nervous to do, or is it more natural to you?

KM: It’s not a nervous thing. The band doesn’t play live that often, but we also don’t rehearse a lot. Early on, when I’d try to bring in song ideas and develop them, we’d never have enough time to work on them, and they’d never get completed. So I changed things up and wrote songs on my own, recorded demos at my home studio, and then would send that to everyone as something we’d work on. Then we’d rehearse it and debut it live. I was in a band in the late 80s and early 90s, and I’ve never been afraid to put a song out there as quickly as possible. If we like it and it sounds good, we throw it out there to see if it works. We’re looking for a reaction to it. But to be honest, I write for myself more than I write for an audience. If I like it, that’s fine.

AH: I think it can be about energy, too. If you like it, and you bring that energy to it, people are much more likely to respond to that, and be positive also, right?

KM: Yes, definitely. I remember the first time we played “Without You” was pretty rocky, but we winged it, and it developed, and it ended up being the first song we put out as a single.

AH: Did the song change based on all the playing before recording it?

KM: Yes. It’s interesting that you ask that because I went back and listened to the demo before releasing the single. I realized, “This is really different.” It wasn’t different structure, but it’s now an acoustic song that kind of starts slow and builds in, then eventually gets to full instrumentation and drums.

When I recorded it, it was all electric guitar and started full on, going all the way through with the same instrumentation from start to finish. There were a lot more electric licks, so it definitely changed a lot in terms of the feel of it. The other thing is that it was recorded a step below, key-wise. When I started to play it with the band, I realized that it was a little low and didn’t project enough.

AH: Something that I find interesting about the way the album works is that I know it is drawn from your life, and has autobiographical aspects to it, but it seems like it’s been made as universal as possible in terms of the phrasing. Was that something you thought about it or did it just turn out that way?

KM: When I write, I’m a music-first person, generally. The Miners is the first band I’ve ever fronted, and I wasn’t the original front person for the band. In my old band, Tornado 5, which was an alternative rock band, I was the guitar player and I wrote all the music. The vocalist wrote all the lyrics and had a vocal line for the music. So I’ve always been music-first. Usually I think what I’m going to write about as a topic, and then mold the lyrics around that. I try to write lyrics that I think are good and I appreciate great lyrics, but I’ve also heard terrible lyrics.

I’m a big consumer of music, and I always have been. I’ve always tried to find things that most people don’t listen to. So I think those types of people aren’t trying to write hits, they are just trying to write good music.

AH: They write in a less commercially-minded way?

KM: Right, and that’s how I do it. I write something where I can think, “I like this song. I’d listen to it.” If it came up on my Spotify list, I’d check it out. That’s my goal. The hope is that other people might like it after that, but I don’t write lyrics wondering if they’ll be loved. I wrote “Without You” because I was dealing with my wife’s diagnosis, and I needed a way to deal with it, though my wife loves the song.

AH: With that song, I feel like there’s enough ambiguity in there, that it could be about many things. It could be about a bad fight with someone, or it could even be a breakup song. The emotion is the main thing, isn’t it?

KM: Yes, it could be about someone who died and there are a lot of possible interpretations. I didn’t think about that so much, but there’s only one line in there about getting sick. Something I also noted is that this wasn’t written about Covid-19. I’m hoping that people don’t think I came up with this as a Covid song.

AH: It just works in a lot of ways. Also, similarly, the song, “Apologize,” has a lot of detail in it, but could be about many things. I actually really like the level of detail in it since I don’t often hear a song that gives a male perspective on struggling with conflict like that. We don’t often hear a voice talking about really trying to struggle against their temper, against the conflict.

KM: That’s one I remember playing and having a friend say, “I love that song.” I wrote it because of an incident that happened. Ultimately, I didn’t realize at the time that my son was having problems with ADHD and it was causing him to have outbreaks. That was causing me to react in ways that I shouldn’t have been reacting. I was dealing with that and wrote the song as a way to say, “I get it. I understand that I’m not doing the right thing here.” That song, in terms of the way it’s written, is nothing like the other songs on the album, though.

AH: Since you are music-first, does the sound of the music ever suggest the subject matter of the lyrics to you? I notice that on “Walnut Lane,” the subject is the 1970s, and the sound also has more of an older feel. The sound and the setting seem to go together.

KM: When I say, “music first,” I tend to come up with musical ideas, whether it’s a lick or a chord-structure. Then I start to think about some words or ideas. Then I adapt the phrasing to whatever I come up with musically. In that case, the idea of “Walnut Lane” was about buying weed in high school. But I often know the vocal melody before the words. Usually I’m writing with too many words, later, and paring them down. I’m doing a lot of editing. Once you’re singing it, too, that may have more impact on editing. You may have to change the diction of a word or how it’s phrased. I wasn’t a singer before, so I learned more about that through taking vocal lessons about what makes sense.

AH: Are there other things that you’ve taught yourself or learned as part of the evolution of the band?

KM: I probably spend some time doing something with music four to five days a week. I play pedal steel guitar, and there’s one track where I play pedal steel on the album. I’m not that good. The reason that I decided to learn pedal steel is that I always kind of wanted to learn. Because I loved the sound of the instrument and was intrigued by it. We had a pedal steel player, and then he left, and I was searching for a new one.

We had someone in who played lap steel, but he owned a pedal steel, and lived kind of far away. So I bought a pedal steel and kept it at my house, hoping he’d play. I kind of wanted to learn, because at minimum, it would help me communicate with my pedal steel player. It turned out that he left, then I was out there searching for a pedal steel player again. I started learning, taking some lessons online and that kind of thing. When I started auditioning pedal steel players again, I could actually hear the difference between a good player and a not-so-good player.

Obviously, I’d like to get to the level where I can play with the band, but I did end up recording one track for the album. On “The Day The Drummer Died,” I played pedal steel on that. I took a stab at it, and I sent it to my pedal steel player and my pedal steel teacher, asking, “What do you think of it?” I wanted them to tell me if it wasn’t any good, but they liked it.

AH: Is this your pedal steel debut on an album?

KM: Yes, it is. I’ve never recorded anything pedal steel on an album. If someone needed a pedal steel player, I might try it, though I’m only a high beginner or low intermediate at this point. The hardest part for me about pedal steel is that I’ve never been a deep musical theory person, and you have to have a decent grasp of theory to play. It’s also a very improvisational instrument, and I’ve never really been a jam person. I’ve always been more of a writer. Even for guitar, I write parts. I’m not an “on the fly” type of person, so that’s been the biggest hurdle for me. I have to learn to improvise rather than going to the safe one or two licks that I know. But there are classical players and there are jazz players and they think very differently.

AH: I noticed that somebody in The Miners likes records and vinyl. Is that you?

KM: Yes, there are a couple of people, but I’m a big vinyl consumer. I will listen in other ways when I’m in my car or out walking, but when I’m home, I listen to vinyl. And I don’t stream, so it’s vinyl 95% of the time. I probably buy vinyl records way more than I should. I’m constantly going to record stores. So putting Megunticook out on vinyl was something that I wanted to do. I think there’s something special about it. I don’t usually get the digital versions of albums. If I want it, I get it on vinyl. Though I probably buy more used vinyl than new vinyl. If we travel somewhere, the first thing I do is see what the best records store in the area are.

AH: With traveling, especially with used vinyl, you never know what you’re going to find. It’ll be different each place you go, I find.

KM: Depending on the store, you can find cheap vinyl. I look for a lot of old country stuff as the first thing I go for, and you can find gems for nothing. A lot of these stores have a little country section. You comb through bins and I’ll see something for a dollar.

AH: That gets me to try stuff and be more educated. If I haven’t heard it before, I’ll try it for a dollar.

KM: Exactly, and both my kids are into vinyl. They are 23 and 20 and they love going to record stores. I actually never got rid of my vinyl. I always held onto it, and I always had a turntable. For awhile, I was mostly buying CDs, but I started to really get into reading about stuff and going onto forums about music. I was surprised that people were saying that vinyl sounded really good, but I bought a decent turntable and then I had to agree, it did sound good.

Back when vinyl wasn’t that popular at all, people would find out that I was into vinyl, and friends would give me boxes full of their old vinyl. I’m sure that wouldn’t happen now, because now that vinyl is popular, and everyone thinks it’s worth a lot!

Find more on the Miners here: - Americana Highways

"INTERVIEW: On Megunticook, Philly Alt-Country Band The Miners Stick to Their Knitting"

The Miners are an original alt country band based in Philadelphia, PA (yes, there are alt country bands in Philly). The Miners are: Keith Marlowe (lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitar), Gregg Hiestand (bass), Vaughn Shinkus (drums, vocals), and Brian Herder (pedal steel guitar) who leads a rotating cast of local pedal steel, lap steel and electric guitar players.

Originally formed in 2007, The Miners are known for their country-infused, guitar and pedal steel guitar laden, alt country originals influenced by the likes of Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown, Gram Parsons, and Merle Haggard. The Miners live shows are always an event and, beginning in 2015, they stage an annual sold out benefit at World Cafe Live (upstairs) in Philadelphia to raise money for breast cancer charities. The Miners play the Philadelphia area’s top venues including World Cafe Live (downstairs and upstairs), Milkboy Philly, 118 North, Bourbon & Branch and others. The Miners have also graced the stages of festivals including the Jenkintown Arts & Music Festival, the Philadelphia Country Music Festival and the Awbury Arboretum Harvest Festival.

I loved the band’s 2012 album The Miners’ Rebellion, a wistful, nostalgic view of childhood. On Megunticook, the Miners do what they do best — and in our interview, Keith Marlowe explains how he keeps it simple.

Who are some of your musical influences?

My early music influences were not necessarily country but were varied. I think this comes from the era grew up in; the 70s and 80s. I was weaned on classical music (my father was a concert pianist) and The Beatles. But my early exposure to pop, rock and country came via 70s AM radio. Playing in and writing songs for an alt country band, friends who have known me since high school ask me, “since when do you like country music?” as my biggest influences in high school were bands like Rush and The Police. But I have always liked classic country or country influenced rock and alternative bands. I again hearken back to 70s AM radio where in any hour you would hear Glen Campbell side-by-side with Kiss, the Bee Gees, Queen and Abba. MTV (I watched religiously from Day 1) and college radio further exposed me to New Wave, punk, ska and even metal and my first original alternative bands were influenced by R.E.M., Hoodoo Gurus, and The Smithereens and later bands like The Pixies, Throwing Muses, and Sonic Youth. But I also always dug bands that had had country influences in their sound including R.E.M., Long Ryders, X, Dave Edmunds/Nick Lowe, and the southern rock bands. When a band like R.E.M. cited Buck Owens as an influence, I went out and started to buy Buck Owens records. The breaking of alt country in the early 90s got me diving deeper into both bands of that era like Uncle Tupelo/Son Volt, Whiskeytown and the Jayhawks, earlier country influenced music like Gram Parsons and classic country such as George Jones, Merle Haggard and Hank Williams.

Explain the title of your album.

Megunticook is a lake in Maine that I spent summers on as a kid and still frequent as an adult. The Penobscot Nation called the area where the lake resides Megunticook, which means “great swells of the sea” as the area, while coastal, has mountains that appear to rise from the sea. For me, the area in mid-coast Maine is my “happy place” that conjures up great memories from my childhood while creating new ones yearly. A song off our EP Norton’s Pond, is about the pond where our summer house was located, which feeds into Megunticook lake, thus tying the two releases together. The album cover’s photo is one I took of the lake from the top of a hike we do every summer. The vantage point is “Maiden’s Cliff” where, in the mid-1800s, an 1year- old girl fell to her death when a gust of wind blew her hat off and she tried to retrieve it. The area where she fell has a giant cross and plaque describing the event.

Do you have any songwriting tips you can share?

Everyone writes differently but I think there is a balance between copying another band’s sound versus using the music you like to influence your sound. Everyone is a copycat to some extent but the great bands take their influences and meld it into something unique, even if it is obvious who their influences were. So listen to the bands you really like and figure out what makes them great and how you can use that in your own writing. And stick to your knitting. Trying to write in too many different styles can cause you to lose cohesion in your sound. Finally, write to your strengths and your band’s strengths and avoid the weaknesses. There are great bands that don’t have top Nashville A-Team musicians. If you lack great lead players use
musical breaks and bridges versus guitar solos in every song. Keep the songs and parts simpler so you can sound good versus writing difficult structures and parts.

Do you start off with the music or lyrics first? Why?

I typically am a music first writer. I think this comes from the fact that before The Miners, I was the primary songwriter for my late 80’s/early 90’s indie band, Tornado 5. However, we had a female lead vocalist who wrote the lyrics and then came up with vocal lines to the music I had written. For The Miners, I still tend to come up with musical ideas and then start to think about vocal melodies and lyrics. I do sometimes have a lyrical concept or theme in mind but typically I do not approach writing the lyrics until I have a base musical idea to work with.

Do you play covers at your shows? Why or Why not?

Yes, we always like to throw in a couple covers into our set. Most of our shows are one-set affairs and if we are playing 10 songs, we like two of them to be covers. The reason I like to do covers is to provide something recognizable for people who may not know our songs and also to possibly expose people to music they may not typically listen to. I especially like to do this with traditional country songs as our crowd is not only Americana, alt country or traditional country music fans. I often get a kick when we play an old country cover and someone comes up to us after the show and say they like the Dead song we played and they are not really country music fans but liked our music. I then explain to them that not only was the song they liked not a Dead song, but a George Jones song that they heard the Dead cover, but that the Dead were really a country-based band and Jerry Garcia was steeped in country influences. Our covers typically are from Gram Parsons, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Uncle Tupelo and even R.E.M. (we do a cover of (“Don’t Go Back to) Rockville” that always seems to be a crowd pleaser). Our newest cover is a Tom Waits song.

What’s the first concert you ever attended? What do you remember about it?

My first concert was The Who with The Clash, Santana and The Hooters at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia (the same stadium Live Aide was held) during my freshman year of high school. What I remember most is being far enough from the stage that when Pete Townshend did one of his famous windmills with his picking arm to strike a chord, it seemed like it I heard the chord five seconds after he played it. I also remember it being really hot. But the excitement of seeing some bands I loved and the energy, excitement and even scariness of being in a large crowd to see music (JFK stadium held 100K people for concerts) had me hooked on live music. These concerts at large stadiums packed with three or four big selling bands seemed to be the flavor of the times as my next concert was to see The Police on the Synchronicity tour with Joan Jett and Madness. The opener of that show was a young band touring behind their first full length major label album, R.E.M. - Adobe & Teardrops

"The Miners Premiere Americana Gem, ‘Leaving For Ohio,’ From Forthcoming ‘Megunticook’"

Alt-country and Americana quartet The Miners announce the release of their first full-length album, Megunticook (Match-Up Zone Music), on October 22. Named for the lake in Maine band leader Keith Marlowe has visited since he was a child, the ten original songs capture the songsmith’s sincere, authentic take on life experiences and highlight tight vocal harmonies, driving guitars and the undeniable country sound of the pedal steel. The band will celebrate the album’s release on October 29th with a performance at Jamey’s House of Music in Lansdowne, PA.

A labor of love, the origins of the album’s material date back to the early 2010s — shortly after Keith took over as The Miners’ frontman.

“Megunticook is a big step up from Miners’ Rebellion,” Keith states about their 2012 EP, “with everything from songwriting, musical performances, production and final output all being at a higher level. The songs, while written over a span of nearly ten years, have the thread of mostly my own personal experiences and feelings and capture the sound of the band I have been developing since taking over as frontman in 2009 (two years after the band’s formation). My songwriting and singing has developed over that time allowing me to expand the band’s sound from Miners’ Rebellion, though I am still proud of the songs from that EP and those songs fit seamlessly into our live sets alongside Megunticook’s tracks.”

“Though I started thinking about the follow up to Miners’ Rebellion in 2016 with band lineup changes and life events, it wasn’t until 2018 when demos were finally recorded,” the songwriter continues. “As I joke, ‘this seems to have taken longer than Boston’s 3rd album to finally be released’ considering the nine-year span between releases and me talking about our new upcoming album for the past three years.”

From Megunticook, ABS is proud to premiere “Leaving For Ohio,” an honest look at the grief often associated with your baby, not a baby anymore, flying the coop. When I think of what gives a band like Son Volt their purposeful presence, I think of hallmarks such as unpretentious immediacy, steel hooks, wistful vocal refrains — all of which are revealed here in this track.

I wrote “Leaving For Ohio” soon after my daughter left our Pennsylvania home for her freshman year at college in Wooster, Ohio. I tried to express the feelings of sadness, pride, concern and recollection that my wife and I were going through (and probably most parents go through).

I put lots of hooks in this one with the intro guitar riff and the simple, catchy, repeating refrain, “She’s Leaving for Ohio.” I also love the split solo that features both pedal steel and b-bender guitar.

In addition to their album release show on October 29th, The Miners will perform select dates in support of Megunticook including their sixth annual event at World Café Live benefiting breast cancer charities in January 2022. Since their inception in 2007, the band has played in many of Philadelphia’s premiere venues including World Café Live, MilkBoy Philly and 118 North and have supported national touring acts that include John Wesley Harding, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers and Don Dixon. - American Blues Scene

"Song Premiere: The Miners “Without You”"

Americana Highways brings you this premiere of The Miners’ song “Without You,” from their album Megunticook, due to be released on October 22. The song was written by Keith Marlowe. The album was produced by Keith Marlowe; engineered and mixed by Cody Cichowski (MilkBoy the Studio) and Keith Marlowe (Match-up Zone Studio); and mastered by Joe Lambert at Joe Lambert Mastering.

“Without You” is Keith Marlowe on lead and backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars; Brian Herder on pedal steel guitar and dobro; Vaugh Shinkus on drums and percussion; Gregg Hiestand on bass; Joe Kille on fiddle; and Bob Lowery on backing vocals.

This song is an earnest love song written by Keith Marloew in the face of real gut wrenching challenges. His writing somehow manages to be both sincere and poignant, yet charming.

This song has nothing to do with experiences during COVID-19!

I wrote “Without You” about my wife of 28 years, Lise, after she revealed to me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I wrote this song to help me cope with the fear, sadness, and other emotions I was going through when I learned of my wife’s diagnosis.

I couldn’t imagine a life without Lise. We first met in 4th grade when Lise was “dating” (to the extent 4th graders “date”) one of my best friends. Though we lived in the same neighborhood, we attended different schools until 8th grade. We became close friends in high school (though outside of one date, never dated) and eventually we began dating the day after our senior prom (which we attended with different dates) and have never been apart since. So obviously, a scare like this, in which I could possibly lose my best friend and life partner, shook me to my core.

Writing songs to express emotion to deal with often times sad experiences is what artists do and I am no different. When I lost my yellow lab of 13 years, I dealt with the loss by writing “Doggone” off The Miners 2012 EP, Miners’ Rebellion. Similarly, I have two other songs on Megunticook, The Miners forthcoming album, that deal with loss and sadness including “Natalie”, written about the loss of my last surviving grandparent, and “Day the Drummer Died”, written about my friend and drummer who was killed in a car crash in high school. However, Without You is the most emotional song I have written to date as its subject is the closest to my heart and expresses the thoughts going through my mind if I were to lose the love of my life.

The song’s lyrics are not readily apparent that I am dealing with my wife’s cancer diagnosis. A listener could easily interpret the song as a breakup song but not for the line in the first verse “when I heard that you got sick, like a candle without a wick, my live would be so dark without you”. This contrasts one of my favorite songs about loss, “Elephant”, by Jason Isbell, which deals directly with the subject matter of someone battling cancer (who unfortunately dies of the disease); I literally could not listen to “Elephant” for a year after learning of Lise’s diagnosis, and had to skip it anytime it came up on my playlist.

My writing process is typically music first, lyrics second, but “Without You” seemed to come together as a combo of the two as I knew he wanted to write about how I was feeling after learning of Lise’s diagnosis. I typically record demos of the songs on my own before presenting them to the full band. The original demo, recorded in the summer of 2016 in the key of D, has full drums throughout the song and features electric guitar from start to finish, with electric country inspired licks played throughout, including the tag lick ending the song (which is played on acoustic guitar on the Megunticook version). I played all the instruments on the demo (electric guitar, acoustic guitar and bass) and used software to program the drums. I recorded only lead vocals and no backing vocals. Once the band started rehearsing the song, I realized the vocals were a little low in my vocal range, especially for live performances, and moved the song’s key up a step to E. Additionally, the song seemed to gravitate to more of an acoustic focused song, with me starting the song with me singing and playing acoustic guitar unaccompanied and then slowly building as in the version off of Megunticook.

The song on the album is similar to the feel captured in The Miners’ live performances of the song. The Megunticook version of “Without You” begins with acoustic guitar and dobro and then Marlowe comes in with the first line “Never thought you wouldn’t be here with me”. Fiddle the compliments the dobro until the first chorus when along with the dobro and fiddle, bass, sparse drums (just hi-hat and bass drum) are added along with a vibrato electric guitar playing some twangy low-register licks, which continue for the rest of the song. Starting in the second verse, the dobro is replaced by pedal steel guitar and fiddle moves to the background for the remainder of the song. The drums become more prominent with rim shots on the snare and the bass moves from whole notes to a more traditional I-V type bass line. Finally, beginning in the second chorus, everything kicks in with drums moving to full snare and backing vocals supporting my lead vocals, which continue through the song’s end.

I produced “Without You” (along with the rest of Megunticook) and like most of the songs on the album, the song was recorded in stages beginning at MilkBoy the Studio in Philadelphia by engineer Cody Cichowski, where basic tracks of drums, bass and the main acoustic guitar were recorded during the first session for the album in November 2018. Overdubs were recorded over several months by me at my home basement studio I call Match-up Zone Studio where I recorded my lead vocals, backing vocals and the electric guitar parts. I brought in The Miners main pedal steel player, Brian Herder, to record the pedal steel and dobro parts and local musician Bob Lowery to assist on the backing vocals. Miners’ drummer Vaugh Shinkus also recorded some percussion parts. Local fiddle player, Joe Kille, recorded the fiddle parts though they were done back at MilkBoy. After the parts were recorded, Cichowski and I mixed the song back at MilkBoy over several sessions. Joe Lambert of Joe Lambert Mastering, mastered “Without You” along with the rest of Megunticook.

Although a scary diagnosis and a terrible disease that unfortunately claims thousands of women’s lives every year (including several of Lise’s friends), fortunately, Lise’s cancer was caught at an early stage. She was able to get through her treatments, is officially cancer free, and can be found attending almost every Miners show. However, the impact I felt from my wife’s cancer diagnosis didn’t end with me penning Without You. After Lise’s initial treatment was over and her prognosis for beating the disease was good, I decided to do something to help other women going through similar experiences with breast cancer and proposed the idea to Lise of holding a benefit to raise money for breast cancer charities. This resulted in me organizing an annual benefit concert at World Café Live (upstairs) in Philadelphia, PA and having Lise direct which charities would receive the proceeds from the events. We held the first benefit in 2015, and it has been a huge success, selling out almost every year and raising well over $10,000 for Living Beyond Breast Cancer and other breast cancer charities. Though cancelled last year due to COVID-19, this year’s event will be held on January 8, 2022. - Americana Highways

"The Miners Release Their Alt-Country "Megunticook" on 10/22"

Alt-country and Americana quartet, The Miners, announce the release of their first full-length album, Megunticook (Match-Up Zone Music) on October 22nd. Named for the lake in Maine band leader Keith Marlowe has visited since he was a child, the ten original songs capture the songsmith’s sincere, authentic take on life experiences and highlight tight vocal harmonies, driving guitars and the undeniable country sound of the pedal steel. The band will celebrate the album’s release on October 29th with a performance at Jamey’s House of Music in Lansdowne, PA.

A labor of love, the origins of the album’s material date back to the early 2010s -- shortly after Keith took over as The Miners’ frontman. Megunticook (Muh-GUN-tuh-cook) opens with gentle ballad, “Without You,” inspired by the songwriter’s wife’s 2014 battle and recovery from breast cancer. Americana Highways premiered the single and enthused, “this song is an earnest love song written by Keith Marlowe in the face of real gut-wrenching challenges. His writing somehow manages to be both sincere and poignant, yet charming.”

Immediately following is “Leaving for Ohio” -- a heartland rocker that would fit seamlessly into a Crazy Horse set that laments his daughter’s growing up and leaving home to start her life anew at college. The early 70s country-rock groove of “Walnut Lane” offers a look back on the tree lined street where kids from the rich part of town would visit to buy drugs and “Natalie” paints a portrait of Keith’s grandmother as a vibrant woman that ultimately lost her life to dementia. “Call Me Up” dates back to the band’s beginnings and is a smooth, southern rocker. “Black Bart” recounts the life of the infamous outlaw stagecoach and train robber who used to leave poems behind and uses one of Black Bart’s actual poems for its chorus. “Apologize” is about the tension between a parent and child with the gentle reminder, “it’s never too late to apologize” and “The Day the Drummer Died” captures an untimely death of Keith’s high school drummer and is buoyed by a harmonica solo that reminiscent of Neil Young. The album’s penultimate “Baby Boots” is a honky tonk western stomper and the bluegrass-tinged finale, “Cardboard Sign” was inspired by a young homeless woman that Marlowe imagines is missed by her family back home.

“Megunticook is a big step up from Miners’ Rebellion with everything from songwriting, musical performances, production and final output all being at a higher level,” says Keith. “The songs, while written over a span of nearly ten years, have the thread of mostly my own personal experiences and feelings and capture the sound of the band I have been developing since taking over as frontman in 2009 (two years after the band’s formation). My songwriting and singing has developed over that time allowing me to expand the band’s sound from Miners’ Rebellion, though I am still proud of the songs from that EP and those songs fit seamlessly into our live sets alongside Megunticook’s tracks.”

“Though I started thinking about the follow up to Miners’ Rebellion in 2016 with band lineup changes and life events, it wasn’t until 2018 when demos were finally recorded,” the songwriter continues. “As I joke, 'this seems to have taken longer than Boston’s 3rd album to finally be released' considering the nine-year span between releases and me talking about our new upcoming album for past three years.”

In addition to their album release show on October 29th, The Miners will perform select dates in support of Megunticook including their sixth annual event at World Café Live benefiting breast cancer charities in January 2022. Since their inception in 2007, the band has played in many of Philadelphia’s premiere venues including World Café Live, MilkBoy Philly and 118 North and have supported national touring acts that include John Wesley Harding, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers and Don Dixon. Megunticook is the follow-up to their critically lauded 2012 EP, Miners’ Rebellion. - Grateful Web

"HEY! LISTEN: The Miners -- "Miller's Cave""

"Miller's Cave" is The Miners' first release since their 2012 album Miner’s Rebellion -- and in my opinion, it's long overdue. This is The Miners version of the Jack Clement-penned classic, which was recorded previously by the likes of Gram Parsons, Hank Snow, Bobby Bare, Charlie Pride and Doug Sahm. The Miners give this murder ballad a wistful air -- one that makes sense when you get to the song's twist ending. It's a nuanced interpretation of a troubling trope, one that shows just how badly the Miners' thoughtful alt-country is needed seven years later.

The Miners core lineup of Keith Marlowe (vocals, guitars), Gregg Hiestand (bass) and Vaughn Shinkus (drums, backing vocals) recorded the track and Jim Callan added pedal steel guitar. "Miller's Cave" was produced, engineered and mixed by Marlowe at his own Match-up Zone Studio and mastered by Joe Lambert (Mt. Joy, Sharon Van Etten, Hiss Golden Messenger, etc.).

Fortunately, The Miners are hard at work on their follow-up to Miners Rebellion, with 10 new songs. It'll be out on vinyl and digital in early 2020, and you'll certainly be hearing more about it here. - Adobe and Teardrops

"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 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" they are us. - No Depression

"Review - The Miners - Miners' Rebellion"

When David Horton featured The Miners on his blog, Popa's Tunes, he needed only to say two words to grab my attention: alt-country and Philadelphia.

As A&T favorites The Sparklers and The Tressels have shown, there's something in the mighty Schuylkill that breeds gritty, lived-in alt-country bar bands. In reality, it's not the water. It's the subliminal messages flashed from the PECO building's LED display. This hypothesis is based on Science.

The Miners continue to prove my theory correct. The Miners' Rebellion is a stunning EP. Together, the songs tell that familiar American story, the one that began as soon as Columbus's boots hit the dirt: exploitation, redemption, nostalgia for a past that may not have existed. Taken separately, they're six extraordinarily hard-hitting songs packet with lyrical genius.

Philly, get your asses out to see these gents. Gents, get your butts over to NYC soon. We may not have the PECO building's mystique or Wawa, but at least we'll let you buy beer and food in the same establishment. But if Philly keeps pumping out bands like The Miners, that's really the only thing NYC will have on the City of Brotherly Love.

You will see this album again at the end of the year. - Adobe and Teardrops

"Review - The Miners - Miners' Rebellion"

On the face of it this tremendous six song mini album could be looked at as a solo project by Keith Marlowe, albeit with the support of some quality musicians. This, thanks to the fact that he wrote all of the songs, plays guitar and takes all lead vocals, also having produced and recorded the album in his own basement studio. As you listen to the album repeatedly it becomes obvious that this is very much a ‘band’ album thanks to the depth of feeling that has been put into these excellent songs by a crew of talented musicians.

The core band is made up of the already mentioned Keith Marlowe, with Andy Shahan on drums and backing vocals, David Thornburgh played pedal steel guitar and usually Scott Donnini is on bass and backing vocals, but did not appear on this album. Other musicians that helped out are Jim Callan, Joe Kille, Matt McGuire and Jeff Smith. There is some tremendous playing and singing on this album that can really be described as ‘classic alt. country,’ having a nice modern feel with it’s chiming, jangling, hard driving guitars always supported by the gorgeous pedal steel guitar. Marlowe’s vocals are perfectly suited to this music, having a nice raw edge but with an ability to vary the tone and atmosphere.

The songs are all melody driven and some of those melodies are incredibly catchy whilst the songs evoke various sentiments and depths of feeling, none more so than the incredible album opener and title track Miners’ Rebellion. This is a tremendously sad story with chiming electric and steel guitars with excellent vocals on a tragic tale about the ‘Miners Rebellion.’ This could well be the bands defining song with the arrangement, playing, singing and raw passion being just about as good as you could wish for on this powerful tale. It is followed by I Recall a real country song of regret with nice fiddle and steel guitar giving tremendous support to the evocative vocals and edgy harmonies. There is the mid tempo jangling country ballad Doggone, as well as several other excellent songs, all sitting comfortably withing the boundaries of alt. country with perhaps a little country rock added for good measure!

The album can be purchased for just a few dollars and you can do so with the knowledge that those dollars could be helping a talented and hugely promising band to afford to record a full album in the future. The title song is worth more than the cost of the album alone and I for one am looking forward to hearing more of them in the future! - American Roots Music (UK)

"Review - The Miners - Miners' Rebellion"

This is a six track EP and a debut offering from four piece alt country band The Miners who hail from Philadelphia, not a hot bed of the format but this is a very authentic version of the genre. All songs are written by frontman Keith Marlowe who not only takes on the lead vocals but plays electric and acoustic guitars and bass, but not pedal steel guitar which is mainly provided by David Thornburgh and which oozes through most tracks giving the record a pleasing edge and a real country feel with more than a nod to the outlaw side.
There are various influences at work here, with hints of The Jayhawks but most notably on the title track “Miners Rebellion”, a protest song almost predictably, which is a dead ringer for The Decemberists “Calamity Song” from their superb 2010 album The King is Dead. The remaining tracks are if anything stronger with soul searching on “I Recall” a longing for bygone days on “Nortons Pond” and an entertaining life gone by song “W.T.A.” which is taken at a really quick pace. It is finished off all too quickly with the standard hard luck song “Cold Steel”. The Miners have a lot of talent as this EP shows, let’s hope a full length album is not too far behind. - AmericanaUK

"Review - The Miners - Miners' Rebellion"

If you are ever struggling to define the term Americana to an uninitiated observer, there may be a solution at hand. Just quit the talk and get them to listen to this 30 minute EP from Philadelphia based band The Miners, titled MINERS’ REBELLION. At the end, that person will be none the wiser on the jargon we use but their ears will have been exposed to as clear a musical definition as you could find.

The core 4 piece band led by vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Keith Marlowe along with his percussion colleague Andy Shahan, have managed to create a sound that perfectly fuses country and indie rock in the true style set out by Gram Parsons all those years ago. This is no homage to the stadium rock being courted by the mainstream just the vibrancy of good honest down to earth garage rock n’ roll given the golden coating of sublime pedal steel. This is certainly a fine example of alt-country being played at its best.

David Thornburgh provides the regular pedal steel guitar but he is joined on a couple of tracks by fellow practitioner of this fine instrument in session player Jim Callann. Scott Donnini on bass completes the core line up with guest fiddle coming from Joe Kille.

All six tracks are meaty efforts with the fusion of crashing guitars and pedal steel greeting you within a few bars of the opening tune ‘Miners’ Rebellion’. The band shows that within their great sound they can combine storytelling and meaningful lyrics with this historical account of a West Virginian industrial conflict. There is definitely more of a traditional country feel to the second track ‘I Recall’ where the strains of fiddle are introduced to ramp up the roots sound. This song contains some memorable instrumental interludes in its second half and succeeds in hitting the right spot.

The third track ‘Doggone’ is yet more pedal steel driven bliss amidst a heartfelt account of an absent one. With so many candidates for top track on this debut release, it is tricky to choose but if pushed you wouldn’t go far wrong with the nostalgic ‘Norton’s Pond’. Not surprisingly Marlowe and the boys continue the twang theme, in a slightly anthemic five minute recollection of a lost place, that stills holds fond memories in the mind. It would certainly be an effective set closer for any Miners’ live show.

This short but highly impressive release heads towards its finishing line with a more up tempo number ‘W.T.A.’ where the band tackle domestic difficulties with the inevitable ultimate conclusion, all delivered in a frenetic style. More crashing guitar leads us into the album’s finale ‘Cold Steel’ where an armed robbery is continually referred back to in the repeated line “cold steel against my head, one slip and I’d be dead”.

There may or may not be a vibrant alt-country scene in Philadelphia but this release by The Miners shows that high quality music is bubbling under the surface. If they so desire, there is a market ready to embrace them in the UK and Europe but this may require a visit one day. In the meantime enjoy this fine album and if you ever need to explain the term Americana, you know what to do. - Three Chords and the Truth (UK)

"The Miners deliver a strong debut EP"

It’s great to hear a band that is willing to go against the norm and write their own rules when it comes to producing music. So many try to fit whatever cookie cutter formula is selling. Thankfully, there are those who are willing to stick to their guns and work inside whatever mold that fits them best.

The Miners are an alt country band from Philadelphia, PA. Their debut EP, “Miners’ Rebellion” blends elements of country and folk with original lyrics and compositions.

The EP leads off with the title track, telling an amazing story with a strong pedal steel driving the prominent unique vocals of lead singer Keith Marlowe. His voice is so unique one would think it would not lend itself to harmonies. With the backing vocals of drummer Andy Shahan, he not only pulls it off, but does it beautifully.

“I Recall” is perhaps their deepest dive into their country roots. While the musicianship is tight, the heavy twang distracts the listener from the unique alt-country sound we were privileged to in the previous track. For the old school country lovers, it is sure to please.

The trademark sound of the band comes back with a vengeance on “Doggone.” The harmonies are spot on and the pedal steel, commanded by David Thornburgh and Jim Callan is excellent.

Midway through the EP, the tempo drops down for the nostalgic “Norton’s Pond.” While the potential is there, the writing is not as strong and the song becomes somewhat repetitive towards the end. A key change midway through the song builds towards a crescendo, but falls flat.

All is forgiven on the next track with the up tempo “W.T.A.” which is a guaranteed toe tappin’ dance floor packer. The vocal cadence is fun and refreshing, but unfortunately is somewhat lost in the mix. The desired alt country sound is perhaps best represented on this track, and it is certainly the highlight of the EP.

Getting back to storytelling, the EP wraps with “Cold Steel.” The lyrics are strong and the guitar work of Marlowe is the best of the album.

“Miners’ Rebellion” was recorded and produced at Match-Up Zone Studio (Keith’s Basement) on 8 track half-inch tape. Our hats are tipped to them for dedicating their recording process to the analog format. The payoff is in the sound, and the format serves them well. While the album is not available on wax, we would love to hear it. The depth of the sound is well represented, even on the CD. This is a strong debut from a band doing it all on their own, and we are very excited to hear more from them in the future!

The CD

The CD release is well produced, especially for an independent first release. Great photography and high quality production make this CD a welcome addition to our collection.

The EP can be purchased from select record stores around Philladelphia, The Miners Website, and their Bandcamp page. - Get It On Vinyl

""Miners' Rebellion" - The Miners - A Review"

This group is a Philly Band with a real bend towards the country rock sound and nothing fancy, just original songs by their leader Keith Marlowe. Marlowe seems to have his hand into a little bit of everything. This six song EP is called Miners Rebellion which is the first track on the CD. Marlowe recorded this album in his basement using an eight track half inch tape reel to reel recorder. The tone is solid without a lot of effects, but the ones he used were quality. Track six has some great guitar work on it. Marlowe is responsible for all of the great guitar work on the six songs, some has more emphasis like on a fiddle or pedal steel, He has two pedal steel players on the six songs. We do not have a glut of pedal steel players here in Philly, He said He basically knows all of them, I'm sure He is right. We just do not have the country bands like we used to, so for me to stumble upon Keith was refreshing.A few years ago ,there was a great band called the Patsy Foster Band, that gal was awesome, she could sing. But the club scene and coffee house scene has changed a bit since the nineties. Marlowes' country lyrics are very interesting, they can take you to another place in history,not a bunch of pop songs with pedal steel (if any ), like a lot of modern country music. There is a very good fiddle player on track two (Joe Kille), a nice ballad. The pedal steel players really add a nice part on this somewhat sparse recording. They each add a different strength in their playing. Norton's Pond is probably my favorite song, which just has a special feel to it. Plus it also has a great melody and some really nice vocal work. My other favorite song is Cold Steel, which is a masterpiece in my opinion,another song with a real good melody plus great vocals and three guitar parts. This EP has the feel of the great alt/country groups of the last three decades,The Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons,there is one song that reminds me of Charlie Robison. Their gigging bass player lived way too far away to make it up on this side of Philly, so Scott Donnini was replaced by former bass player Jeff Smith on a couple of tracks and Keith played bass on the other tracks. Andy Shahan played drums and did backing vocals,David Thornburgh played pedal steel on four tracks and is their regular steel player. Jim Callan played pedal steel on two tracks. Matt Mcguire did backing vocals on two tracks. Joe Kille played fiddle on one track. Last, but far from least, on lead vocals Keith Marlowe,electric and acoustic guitars Keith Marlowe,on backing vocals ,Keith Marlowe,and finally on bass, tracks 1- 4 Keith Marlowe. Produced and recorded at Match-Up Zone Studio, (his Basement) Keith Marlowe, Mixed by Keith Marlowe and Joel Metzler at MilkBoy The Studio, Philadelphia,Pa. Mastered by Tommy Joyner at Milkboy The Studio, Phila, Pa. This album has had a real positive effect on just about everyone that has heard it, Please go check out The Miners website where you can listen to the whole CD and Buy it. I have enjoyed this review, I got to meet Keith, He delivered the CD so I could review it, He lives about ten minutes away ,so I hope to hear a show this year. - Jim's Country Music Reviews

"The Miners, Shark Tape and Superfive - Tonight at Milkboy!"

The Miners headline as they drop their debut disc, Miners' Rebellion, a six song cornucopia of lilting, mournful melodies that feature the dazzling pedal steel of David Thornburgh and Jim Callan. Lead singer and songwriter Keith Marlowe's no-nonsense vignettes recall the dusty charm of Green on Red's Dan Stuart, but even more they evoke memories of the late, great Philly roots rockers The Rolling Hayseeds. - Teenage Kicks

"Review - The Miners - Megunticook"

This is another album that was released in late 2021, and although it’s a few months late I felt I just had to get something down in ‘print’ about it, because If ever there was a recording for which the word ‘grower’ was invented, it has to be Megunticook. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed it from the start, as I knew I would, having played the Miners previous recording, Miners’ Rebellion, an e.p/mini album (where does one start and the other finish?) to death over the previous ten years! It’s just that the melodic flow lulled me a little into thinking it was predominately a ‘very pleasant’ album of incredibly catchy melodies, good songs, vocals, playing and indeed arrangements, which it most certainly is.

As you listen to the recording more, not only does it seem to get better with each listen, but you start to lose yourself in the depths of the mini epic dramas that are set to this beautifully melodic music and tell stories that will remain with the listener for a very long time. That is the beauty of this album, lyrically many of the stories, whilst echoing snippets of life, rarely bring resolutions, instead leaving it to the listeners imagination to resolve a variety of situations and problems rather than a neat little package with a start and finish.

Then you add the fact that lead singer Keith Marlowe is a ‘classic alt. country’ vocalist in the same league as Jay Farrar, Ryan Adams and just a few others who ‘define’ the alt. country term. Of course, no one can really define that throwaway term, but the fact is it does exist and is in constant use and is generally a split between country and rock, the percentages being both variable and arguable. But whatever this album is, it’s not really that, it is far more weighted towards country although it does include some strong rock elements. In many ways it probably has more in common with a countrified Jayhawks than Uncle Tupelo but without the over production and with a vocalist that appeals, certainly to me, more than Gary Louris.

Founded back in 2007 in Philadelphia, PA. the Miners consists of Keith Marlowe on lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, Gregg Hiestand, bass, Vaughn Shinkus on drums and vocals, with Brian Herder on pedal steel guitar and the songs are all Keith Marlowe originals. For those wondering where the word Megunticook comes from, it is actually a popular hiking, mountain and river area in the state of Maine, U.S.A.

It's certainly been a long wait for this album, but you can’t rush a good thing, and this is certainly very, very good, in fact it figured highly in my 2021 albums of the year list and on reflection I can’t think of a better band album from the various high-quality lists that were around at the end of 2021.

Album opener Without you gets under way with the sound of a lovely dobro and acoustic guitar on a heart-rending sad song. As things pick up the fiddle and electric guitar come in underpinned by the steel guitar as well as restrained but excellent harmonies on the chorus of this beautifully melodic tale of lost love. The sadness is far more tangible than on the average lost love song and the heartbreak in Keith Marlowe’s vocal performance is quite palpable. The melodicism of Leaving for Ohio has much in common with the Jayhawks, with the electric guitars, repetitive chorus and excellent lead and harmony vocals, and as applies to virtually every song on this recording, a gorgeous melody on the story of a daughter who is finally leaving home. This band have the knack of coming up with perfect for purpose arrangements and making excellent use of the varied instrumentation that usually includes steel guitar. The changes in tempo and subject matter, that often echo life, and of course the tremendous melodies, all combine to produce an outstanding album by this talented band. Rocked up guitars and thudding percussion get Call me up underway on a story that seems to be told by the son about his father and leaves many unanswered questions about the man, although the lyrics describe the basics of who he is. It’s very cleverly written, as just thoughts going through the son’s mind in the four and a half minutes of the song, leaving the listener wanting answers to those questions. Because of the strong characterization I found myself, as many will and no doubt have, trying to contrive those answers. On first listen I thought this was a pretty good song, but it is fast becoming, at least to me, the strongest on the album. Apologize is a song that emphasises ‘it’s never too late to apologize’ although in the case of the characters in this familial tale it seems as if it could well be. Of course, being just a short time span in their lives perhaps the troubled main character in this tale will eventually do so. We never know, and that’s the beauty of an album that deals in the main with real life situations, resolution is not always there. Acoustic guitar, banjo, dobro and mandolin introduce Cardboard sign a beautifully descriptive commentary of a homeless teenage girl. Again, no resolution, perhaps that’s for another song, or album, but again you can’t help but wonder what will happen to this attractive girl, as well as fear for her on this beautifully arranged story.

I’ve been playing The Miners e.p and a single that was released a couple of years ago, dozens of times on my radio show. It’s lovely to now have a ten-song collection that I will never tire of to take over from those old worn tracks on the show. Hopefully it won’t be ten years before their next recording but if it is a long way off, I’ll be content to play this great album until such time as it does appear. - American Roots UK


Megunticook - Album - Released October 2021 (vinyl, CD and digital)

Miller's Cave - Single - Released September 2019 (digital only)

Miners' Rebellion - Six Song EP - Released November 2012 (CD and digital)



The Miners are an original alt country band based in Philadelphia, PA.  Originally formed in 2007, The Miners are known for their country-infused, alt country originals influenced by the likes of Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown, Gram Parsons, and Merle Haggard.  Co-founded by Keith Marlowe (lead vocals, acoustic and electric guitar), the current line-up also includes Gregg Hiestand (bass), Vaughn Shinkus (drums, backing vocals) and Brian Herder (pedal steel guitar), who heads a rotating cast of local pedal steel, lap steel and electric guitar players.

 The Miners released their first full-length album, Megunticook, on October 22, 2021.  The album features 10 Marlowe-penned never released originals and is available on 180-gram vinyl (including limited edition red vinyl), CD and on most digital music services.  The album’s first single, “Without You” premiered on Americana Highways with the accompanying video premiering on Americana UK and the follow up single, “Leaving for Ohio”, premiered on American Blues Scene.  The album was named one of the top albums of 2021 by American Roots UK, was named a Best of 2022 by AltCountryNL in the Netherlands and is receiving national and international airplay including on WXPN's Americana Music Hour.  In 2019, The Miners released their cover of Miller’s Cave, the Cowboy Jack Clement Classic previously recorded by Gram Parsons, Bobby Bare, Hank Snow, Charlie Pride and Doug Sahm among others.  The single received airplay in the U.S. and the U.K. and was reviewed by Americana-focused blogs such as Adobe & Teardrops.  The Miners debut six-song EP, Miner’s Rebellion, was released in 2012 to critical acclaim and notable airplay including a featured write-up in No Depression, inclusion on Bill Frater’s Freight Train Boogie podcast, and praise from alt country/Americana blogs both in the U.S. and overseas (UK & Netherlands) where it was named a Top-10 release for 2013 by Adobe & Teardrops, was chosen as the #1 Debut Release of 2013 by the blog Popa’s Tunes, and a Best of 2013 by UK radio show Standing in the Shadows of Lev.

 The Miners purposely limit their live shows to a half dozen or so per year at a variety of Philadelphia’s top venues including Ardmore Music Hall, World Café Live, MilkBoy Philly, 118 North, The Royal Glenside and Jamey’s House of Music.   The Miners have opened for national touring acts including the Outlaws, John Wesley Harding/Wesley Stace, the Waco Brothers and Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers.  For six years, The Miners have hosted a highly successful benefit concert at World Café Live to raise money for Breast Cancer charities. 

Band Members