The Mickey Finns – Half Door, Hartford, CT (February 2007)

The Sort of Mickey Finns

It was certainly friggin cold out this night we ventured out down to the Half Door for this first time checking out this band “The Mickey Finns”. I guess it was to be expected, it was February, but the month before during an Enter the Haggis show it was so warm out we ate outside! So when I had to park on the street so far away we couldn’t see the door, my passengers moaned and groaned, I told ‘em all to shaddup and quit whining!

The Mickey Finns are the latest in the New York Irish rock, compiled of the same twenty or so roaming musicians that rotate in and out of different bands. The best way to describe the scene there is if you know someone you are welcomed wholeheartedly into this wildly energetic and extremely talented group of bands and solo musicians. However if you do not know someone to introduce you to this musical madness, you’ll pass right over this group without ever knowing it, literally if you take the 7 train into Sunnyside/Woodside area of Queens. Some of these bands have made it out and become quite popular like Black 47 and The Prodigals. Others you should know, but probably haven’t even had a clue about are bands like Trigger, The Temp and the band of focus in this article, The Mickey Finns.

With a style uniquely New York Irish, The Mickey Finns don’t even try to punk rock a trad song, or Pogues out and original song. The sound is stripped down; the drummer plays two congas a high hat and a kick drum. The singer plays the acoustic guitar and there is the fiddle player. Oh the fiddle player, there is always one star to a group and in this case it is the other worldly playing of Matt Mancuso. Matt and I used to drink together years ago when I lived in Queens. I would go and watch him and his band Raglan Road play every Sunday night at Taylor’s Hall, then we’d all trek down to The Wall (now McGuire’s) which was a few blocks away on Roosevelt in Woodside, under the 7 train. It was a two or three day a week scavenger hunt to find what group of musicians were playing under what name and at what bar. I’ll tell you though that when any of these bands got rocking and the crowd was right you could easily spend all night there, not emerging from the pub door till the sun came up.

Back to the boys in the band, however cold it was and whoever replaced Matt the whole style of the band was definitely built for the Irish pub of tomorrow. The musicians do honors to the music and make it there own by not changing it to some gimmick, but by playing the hell out of what was handed down to them for generations. And improvised jigs and reels got all the drunken forty something’s up and dancing, however I missed Matt’s hornpipes he did with Raglan Road. All and all these guys despite their CD not being ready yet, were able to rock out as if this were the way the band always sounded, and I made the suggestion that the stand in for Matt, a great banjo player should become a permanent member, come on how about it?

Review by The Rover

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