Marshall Railroad takes a tour break to busk in Asheville

On tour from their home in Phillipsburg, NJ, Jason Deemer and Joe Varga stop to busk near Pack Square in downtown Asheville, NC.
On a DIY summer tour to promote their new album, Jason Deemer and Joe Varga of the Phillipsburg, NJ,-based Marshall Railroad didn’t actually have a show date in Asheville. But, as is often the case with bands on an East Coast leg of a tour, Asheville proved a handy stopping point between gigs, and a good place to busk for a little gas money. (It also helped that the band had friends in town who were willing to put them up for the day.)

In terms of performers you’re likely to encounter in the Asheville busking scene, Marshall Railroad are unusual. It was actually a little jarring to encounter their more mainstream alt-rock sound, rather than the folk-influenced singer/songwriter tradition or the jazz/blues movement that tends to rule the street corners here. What’s more interesting is that Deemer and Varga both seemed truly surprised that there was a busking scene in town, and said they hadn’t planned on performing at all while visiting. This, in turn, was a surprise to me, as most of the buskers I encounter came to Asheville specifically to busk.


Published by

Steve Shanafelt

Steve Shanafelt used to think he was a writer. Lots of other people thought he was a very good one, and they paid him to write everything from news articles to erotic comic books. Then, a few years ago, he started to realize that writing was just one very tiny piece of the puzzle. He started recording podcasts, producing field recordings of busking musicians, making short video series and learning how to make websites. Along the way, he learned lots of ways not to manage businesses and how to promote those businesses online. Now, people pay him surprisingly large sums of money to show them some of the things he's picked up.