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Middletown Transcript
  • Mighty Merkin brings unique covers to Tom Foolery's debut

  • For their debut at Tom Foolery's Restaurant & Bar on Saturday, the Mighty Merkin will usher in a mix of familiar covers by adored bands like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Green Day, but not without throwing patrons for a loop.
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  • Predicting the Mighty Merkin's setlist for a show is like peering into a crystal ball that's malfunctioning. You'll see bits of the future, while the rest will appear fuzzier than Kimbo Slice's beard.
    For their debut at Tom Foolery's Restaurant & Bar on Saturday, the Mighty Merkin will usher in a mix of familiar covers by adored bands like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Green Day, but not without throwing patrons for a loop.
    "One song could be by Bon Jovi and the next one would be by Digital Underground," said guitarist and vocalist Scott Testerman, 38, formerly of Middletown and now living in Bear. "You never know what you're going to get when you come out to see us. We like to keep everybody on their feet."
    On a few occasions, even the guys in the band have found themselves dumbfounded by songs they've covered.
    "I'll throw a curveball and whip into some Prince, or something, and [my bandmates are] like, 'what in the world is he doing?'" boasted Testerman.
    Bassist and vocalist John Smith touched on some unique '80s covers in their catalog, including a classic by The Commodores.
    "We're [incorporating] Cameo and 'Play that Funky Music' by Wild Cherry," said Smith, 36, of Elkton, Md. "Sometimes we play 'Kiss' by Prince and 'Brick House.'"
    TRADITIONAL SONGS
    Keeping their repertoire fresh is a must, but the Mighty Merkin also knows its roots lie in traditional covers that most people can, or should, expect to hear.
    Page 2 of 2 - "Playing in this area, you have to hit a certain type of staple with a lot of the songs, for instance: 'Summer of '69,' '867-5309/Jenny,' stuff like that," explained drummer Rob Connors, 33, of Coatesville, Pa. "We really try to incorporate a lot of that in there."
    They also like to stitch in new tunes to keep younger listeners interested. The newest song the Merkins learned was "Locked Out of Heaven" by R&B-pop heartthrob Bruno Mars.
    Since the Merkins cover a wide range of music, the guys are always confident they can put a Kool-Aid smile on a listener's face.
    "The music's kind of all over the place, so you're hitting everyone there," said guitarist and vocalist Roger Holcomb, 38, of Elkton. "If you don't like this song, you'll probably like the next one. If you don't like that one — I guarantee you're going to like the next one."
    WHAT'S A MERKIN?
    A merkin might sound like the name of a magician or sea monster. But it's actually a pubic wig. Actresses/actors have donned merkins in Hollywood films to avoid inadvertent exposure of genitalia during nude or semi-nude scenes.
    When asked if Smith thinks the band's name is taboo, he responded: "Considering the music we play and the people that come out to hear us, they're going to wonder what it is; and then they ask, and they get a chuckle out of it," he quipped. "I don't think it's taboo at all."
    IF YOU GO
    WHAT Mighty Merkin in concert
    WHEN 10-1 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23
    WHERE Tom Foolery's Restaurant & Bar, 714 Ash Blvd., Middletown
    COST Free
    INFO tomfoolerys.info or 449-2211

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