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.