Old Man Markley The Ship & Anchor, Calgary AB, June 19
Published Jun 20, 2014Los Angeles-based punk/bluegrass band Old Man Markley were in redemption mode for their appearance at Sled Island this year. After having their show shut down last year on the night of the floods, they appeared happy as pigs in shit to be up onstage doing their ultra-high-energy take on bluegrass. Guitarist/vocalist John Carey commented on how good it was to be back as the band stormed through a set of crowd-pleasers like "For Better, For Worse" and "In a Circle Going Round," the latter of which got the packed audience into a full-on bluegrass circle pit (a lot friendlier than the circle pits seen at most punk and metal shows). Being short one member in their band namesake and washboard player Ryan Markley didn't phase the other six players in the band who were spot-on, every note and strum perfectly in place, autoharp player and vocalist Annie DeTemple joking that it was a whole lot of strings for them to master all at once.
She started counting how exactly many, but then just left it at that; between guitar, banjo, autoharp, standup bass and fiddle, it's easy to lose count. Taking a break from their rousing material to hit a couple of covers, a tribute to fallen No Use for a Name singer Tony Sly in "Feel Good Song of the Year" and Screeching Weasel song "The Science of Myth," both fitting seamlessly into their set, the band brought it all back with the contemplative "Stupid Today" from their latest seven-inch on Fat Wreck Chords. They then played the suitable "Blood on My Hands," with its chorus of "when it rains, it pours," dedicating it to Calgary. Perhaps it was pent-up energy from last year's cancellation, but Old Man Markley's performance this year at Sled Island was super-charged.