Tag Archives: Dropkick Murphys

Dropkick Murphys: grilled by Barnacle Brian

October 27, 2003

Dropkick Murphys Interview With Al Barr, and Mark Orrell aka (The Kid) October 27, 2003 Portland, Oregon
We got ahold of Al and Mark, for X-58 Radio (a local radio station) before the Portland gig at the Crystal Ballroom, Here’s what we got…

I know you guys have come along way since the barbershop basement days, where do you see the Dropkick Murphys in 3-5 years?

Al: That’s a tough…That’s hard to say, I mean we’re always growing, (know what I mean) in numbers in the band (laughs).

The Kid: We can’t predict the future.

Al: We like to think our music is growing and not changing, but getting better, hopefully. So just doing pretty much the same as what we’re doing now, we’re just trying to put out the best music we can, and touring…

The Kid: We’re pretty healthy, so I figure we’ll still be around…

Al: well some of us..(laughs) Some of us have been avoiding the doctor for years.

Brian/S’n’O: You’ve been leaning more & more towards using traditional Celtic instruments, Is that going to continue on future recordings?

Al: From the inception of the band, we’ve always used those instruments. In the studio records like Sing Loud Sing Proud, we got guys in the band that were in the punk scene, but played Celtic instruments, so we were able to take that on the road. Before we had a ceiling, so we weren’t gonna put alot of those intruments on the records because, If we can’t recreate it live, it’s a bumout, know what I mean?, Now we have the instrumentation, so we will continue to incorporate that.

The Kid: We’re looking at a didgerido player. He’s gonna be coming in for the next record. It’s gonna be pretty cool.(Trys to keep a straight face – but starts to laugh)

Al: Yeah, we’re gonna fly him in from Australia (laughs) No, that’s not gonna happen.

As of today, who are your favorite bands? Extra points for naming Hudson Falcons.

Al: Not the Hudson Falcons.(laughs) Although they are friends of ours. I’m being honest, but favorite bands right now? Jesus, the new Joe Strummer record…

The Kid: The new Joe Strummer record is REALLY good.

Al: Yeah the new Joe Strummer record, and I don’t wanna cheapen that answer with any others, so i’d just say the new Joe Strummer record.

Tell us about the Boston Bruins gig, you guys have lined up.

Al: Well, what we’ve been told is we’re gonna play the FleetCenter, on the 15th of November, when they play Vancouver, and we’ll see how that goes, I mean it’s the first time we’ll play…

The Kid: At the FleetCenter, at a sporting event.(Laughs)

On the ice or what? (laughs)

The Kid: No, they’re taking out handicap seats and building a stage for us, so it’ll be pretty cool. We wanted to play in between the periods, that would be cool. Hopefully people will stick around for the set after the game…

Al: We’ll see who sticks around and see who throws shit at us!

The Kid: Ahh, It’s too loud!!! (regarding some “older” fans)

Heather/X-58: If you were on the ice, i’m sure people would stay! (laughs)

Al: Maybe we’ll just rush the ice, and…

What do you think of this whole Celt-Punk genre? And do you think websites like Shite’n’Onions are doing a great job? (This question was originally for Ken, who i’ve been told is an S’n’O fan)

Al: I ‘m not really familiar with the website (Bastard – that the last time we’re ever nice to you – S’n’O), and obviously there’s a lot of bands that are doing the whole Celtic punk thing. There’s a lot of bands bands that have been doing Celtic music for a long time. I think with the Dropkick Murphys, we’ve always been a punk band first, and then we incorporate the celtic influences later. But yeah, there’s alot of bands doing it, and doing a great job with it. We are just doing what we do, and letting the people decide.

What was it like working with Woody Guthrie’s lyrics on Blackout?

The Kid: An honor. Al: Yeah, It was an honor, and a daunting task to be asked to write music for unpublished lyrics for someone as great as Woody Guthrie, know what I mean? We had music already that was written. We were calling the music for that “Reggae Ramone” actually, because it sounded like a reggae meets The Ramones song. So we had that music, and actually Kenny and I were in the basement of his house looking though the Guthrie lyrics saying “How in hell are we gonna tackle this job?” because it’s not something we though of as being easy. We had a little handheld cassette recorder of our band practice in the background with these guys playing the music to what became “Gonna Be A Blackout Tonight” and Kenny picked up the lyrics to that, and was reading it, and (the music) just happened to be playing, and said “What do you think of this?” and we said “yeah that’ll work!” and it just kind of fell together.

The Kid: Hopefully, he’d not rolling around in his grave right now.

Al: Hopefully we did him proud. I think in spirit, it’s in line with what he was all about.

Brian/S’n’O: Especially with your background…

Al: Right, it’s in keeping with the whole thing.

So, any chance of flying me out to the St. Paddy’s Day show in Boston?(Laughs)

Al: We don’t even know where we’re gonna be doing this and where we’re gonna be doing that. Know what I mean, we know we’re gonna be playing some shows in Boston, but there’s now talk of possibly doing some West Coast shows in California that same week. So we don’t really know. (looks at the mic) Don’t plan your calanders around what I just said, because that could all change tommorow. We definatley will be playing Paddy’s Day week. Definatly be playing shows in Boston. As far as how many? Last year we did four…

The Kid: Seems like, No, we did five.

Al: We did five?

The Kid: No, four, but it seems like every year we add a day on.

Al: Or they try to add another day..

Brian/S’n’O: A whole work week!

The Kid: Exactly.(Laughs)

(Heather/X-58 radio)
When you guys were in elementary school, and the teachers asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, what did you guys answer to that?

Al: I Don’t know if would have answered a Singer, but since I was in grade school, I was singing in concert choir. I was always singing along with Elvis, or The Beatles, when I was 10, or 11.Then when I was 12 or 13, I heard some harder stuff like punk, you know, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Clash, that kind of stuff. So I always loved music, & I always loved singin’ along. I had a little Hi-Fi, you know, it looked like a suitcase, and you could open it up and it was a record player.

Heather/X-58: I had one of those.

Al: Yeah you know what I mean. I would always just sing along with music. My father gave me all his Beatles records, my first record was a “Hunka, Hunka Burnin’ Love” by Elvis in 4th grade. I think you get caught up.. Everybody tries to outdo themselfs with the whole (little snotty kid voice) I wanna be a spaceman,I wanna be a fireman,a policeman, oh yeah? well i’m gonna be a friggin’ G.I. Joe. ya know? (laughs) But yeah, I think I’ve always loved singing and loved being on the stage. Like I said, since I was a kid, I was doing the concert choir and stuff, so we’d perform in front of all the old folks, and parents, and that kinda thing, so.

The Kid: I kinda wanted to be a hockey player. I was playing hockey, like for the Lakers, back in Worchester.I always wanted to be a hockey player, I looked up to Wayne Gretsky, and Bobby Orr and stuff. They were always my favorites. Basically I wanted to be a hockey player. I don’t have a long drawn out story like Al did! (Laughs)

Al:(laughs) That’s just cause i’m long and drawn out!(laughs)

(Heather/X-58 radio)
What’s your favorite song to play live?

Al: Right now, i’d say the “Workers Song”

The Kid: “Workers Song” yeah, Definatley, it’s a rockin’ number.

Al: It’s like you said, a rockin’ number. Just the way it kicks in, and the way the audience responds to what the lyrics are saying. You see everybody singing along with that, and as soon as we kick that song in, everybodys eyes bug out, and they’re psyhced. Know what I mean? It gets the hair on the back of your neck to stand up.

(Heather/X-58 radio)
What’s your favorite album of yours?

Al: I’d say Blackout.

The Kid: Blackout, yeah, yeah, definatley.

(Heather/X-58 radio)
Were you influcenced by The Pogues?

Al: I would say that musically…Obviously there are influcences there because The Pogues were doing, what we were doing, years ago, but more in the traditional sense, they had that punk edge, just because I think Shane MacGowan’s attitiude more than anything else, and the time that The Pogues started in London, there was a punk explosion going on at the same time, and his other band The Nipple Erectors were also definatly a punk band for that time period.
We as a band have never sat around, I mean when it comes to writing we don’t sit around to music and write like… I don’t know, I’m 35 years old. I get my influences when I write music from my daily life. So that’s kinda how I write.

(Heather/X-58 radio)
So, how many of you are Irish? Or have Irish in you?

Al: I’d say everybody in the band except me.

The Kid: I’m half Irish, & half English.

Brian/S’n’O:Your part English? (Laughs) So you guys are the butt of all the jokes in the band?

Al: and I’m the Scottish Kraut, you know what? First of all, (stares at the mic) I don’t wanna be Irish. (Everyone laughs) Because the curse is true!

The Kid: Al’s holding up his pinky right now! The Irish curse.

Al: The Irish curse, I don’t wanna part of that. I don’t wanna stuff socks in my drawers! (Laughs) So, you can have the Mick’s. The Mick’s can…You know.. Whatever. My oldest friend, Peter Donovan’s a Mick, I love him. I’ve grown up with Irish my whole life, Irish American, but, yeah, I’m a Scottish Kraut.

Heather: I’m Irish, & German, so I can make the beer and then drink it.

Al: There ya go!

Brian/S’n’O: (Laughs) Either way around huh?

Heather/X-58: Either way, it’s good. So, what’ your favorite beer?

The Kid: (points at a bottle) Budweiser brand beer.

Al: I don’t drink beer anymore, I drink dark rum. That’s what I’ve found keeps me out of fights, headaches, and hangovers.

The Kid: Everytime Al drinks beer he loses some teeth. (laughs)

Brian/S’n’O: Really? Nice work! Yeah! (thumbs up)

Al: Not really, not alot of fun, I don’t recommend it to the kids out there.

Is there anything you want to add?

Al: (pauses) Ahh……No. (laughs) Thank-you for the interview, we appreciate the interview, but we’re not much on the whole soapbox thing… You kids out there you need to do…Y’know? No, just live your life, and we’ll live ours, and if we’re in town, come check it out.

The went on to play a hell of a show.

Interviewed by Brian, and Heather, from X-58 radio (A big thanks to Matt for scheduling the interview)


Stiff Little Fingers, Lost City Angels -The Paradise, Boston (September 6, 2001)

Irish punk legends Stiff Little Fingers started their fall American tour at the Paradise – a Boston club they haven’t played since their first Stateside trip, 21 years ago.

Some of the NFL’s New England Patriots made the Paradise notorious a few years back when they stage-dived onto regular-size people at an Everclear concert. It’s understandable how a brutal, high-octane band like Everclear can whip anyone into a stage-diving frenzy; nonetheless the negative attention led authorities to close the Paradise for code violations.Now back in business, the Paradise looks exactly like it did before the closing, with its polished, Euro-hip decor. The joint may host techno dancing much of the time, but it can be a great venue for infrequent big punk shows. The room is fairly small and shallow, with its wide stage looming nearby wherever you stand, creating anintimate atmosphere. Tonight it was sold out. Younger scenesters and fans filled the floor, and the old fogies milled up on the balcony.

Lost City Angels were a perfect choice to open. The talented five-piece band of punks play upbeat, melodic hard rock songs on the long side with tight arrangements and cool dynamics. A lot of the kids up front sang and shouted along as the singer, a natural-born performer, and the harmonizing bassist belted out their original anthems. The crowd was suitably warmed up when LCA finished.

On a Celtic punk note, the sound guy played the Tossers, among other music, over the P.A. during the agonizingly long set change.

Finally, everybody’s favorite ‘80s-Irish-mulleted little guys took the stage in matching “Stiff Little Fingers” soccer jerseys with their respective last names stitched on the backs. The crowd went nuts to a few old hits like “Nobody’s Hero.” Explaining that they’re hoping to get a new record deal, the band soon trotted out several brand-new songs, not one of them bad ordifferent from what you’d expect. A standout was the slow reggae number “Listen to Your Heart.”

The last new song Jake prefaced with “I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of seeing five young boys in vests doing backflips and calling that music…this is a song called ‘I Believe In the Power of Guitar and Drum.’” The anti-MTV anthemic ode to rock and roll snapped the crowd out of their temporary funk, the song’s sentiment alone getting fans to pogo again. “I see we’re of like mind on that one,” Jake said as the band finished to loud roars.

Next up was “No Surrender,” and a fight broke out. The combatants were quickly ejected. “To our more boisterous brethren up front,” Jake good-naturedly chided at the end of the song, “We’re up here singing about reconciliation and peace, and you’re fighting! Get a boxing license.” Soon SLF kicked into awesome mode with a string of old hits: “Wasted Life,” “Fly the Flag,” “Tin Soldiers,” and finally “Alternative Ulster.” Pogoing and singing along were at all-time highs. Their set had already clocked in at an hour and five minutes, but the boys came back for an encore, covering the Clash’s “White Riot” and closing with “At the Edge.”

It seems that over two decades SLF have lost none of their energy. Jake’s singing voice is as plaintive and hopeful as ever. And the band seemed as happy and excited to be up on stage playing as the crowd was to see them.

By Pat Kennedy

Dropkick Murphys/Sick Of It All/Tiger Army – American Pride Tour 2001, Chicago, Il (October 19, 2001)

Punks, Skins, Hardcore kids, Psychos…All were in attendance as the American Pride Tour rolled through Chicago on Friday night, October 19th. Heading up to the venue – the Vic – I noticed the familiar faces of Chicago’s finest skins and punks that normally roll out for the DKM, but what amazed me was the sheer variety of the crowd. Not that it should have. America’s finest bands in three categories were in town. Tiger Army, the west coast’s premiere “Psychobilly/Punk/Rock’N’Roll” three piece, NYHC hardcore legends, the mighty Sick Of It All and the ever popular trailblazers of American Paddycore/Mickrock, the Dropkick Murphys.

As show time approached, the greasers adjusted their quiffs, the skins looked hard and psychos flooded the front. You could almost hear the switchblades gleaming and the pomade drying as Tiger Army scampered up on stage first. Being a fan of all things psycho, I readied myself. The Army played a helluva, albeit short set. This is a group that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. Playing such hits as “Nocturnal” and the Army anthem “Never Die”. Nick 13’s crooning and the hard-driving, haunting, howling sounds from the band left the psychos dying for more. Newer numbers like “The Power Of Moonlight” and “FTW” were already audience favorites, as the crowd wrecked along to every word. If you’re not familiar with Tiger Army, imagine a gang of 50’s rockabillies cutting an album with the grit of the Clash, and lyrics influenced by old horror movies and Glenn Danzig. Maybe Gene Vincent meets the Misfits meets East Bay Hardcore? Stand-up bass player Geoff Kresge was amazing – quite a showman he was – all energy, pacing back and forth like, well, a caged tiger (yeah, yeah…bad, bad pun.) Nick 13 kept the crowd moving, and all in all, I wish they would’ve played for another 30 minutes, as their material is definitely strong enough to warrant it, and they kept the crowd involved the whole time. American roots music updated with a punk rock flair and horror show style. Hell, I even saw some skins smiling. I haven’t had this much fun with greasers since Fonzie donned water skis and jumped a shark all those years ago.

Testosterone levels were running high, and the change was aching to be picked up, as New York’s Sick Of It All followed. If you’ve seen SOIA, then no explanation of what followed is necessary. Motherfucking Mayhem. As Ken Casey noted, these guys ain’t no openers – there were TWO headliners for tonight’s show. Lou Koller made sure that everyone took care of each other as the band blasted through hit after fucking hit. I have always been a fan of the bands older material, (although I do also dig their newer stuff) and was pleased to hear them represented by “Clobberin’ Time” “GI Joe Head Stomp” and “Us Vs. Them” among others – it was a virtual hit parade. SOIA also pulled out all the stops on newer ball-busters like “Call to Arms” and cuts from their latest “Hello Pricks” and “Disco Sucks, Fuck You.” Band-wise, Pete Koller is a sight to behold: total fucking energy, never stops moving throughout the whole set. Near mid-set, Lou asked everyone to play the “Braveheart” game, re-enacting the scene from said film where Wallace and the Scots charge the Irish portion of the English-ruled Army (the Irish were the expendable ones, after all) and rather than commence combat, they stopped and embraced. So, the game went: rather than run headlong into one another and ‘battle’, stop and embrace. It was positivity and unity like this that the crowd (and country) needed to have thrust their way. All this from fuckin’ Yankee fans, I couldn’t believe it… (just kidding, I’m just bitter that my fucking “normally-worthless- yet-this-year-first-place” Cubs blew it in the last 3 weeks of the season this year. They say rooting for lovable losers is honorable, but Jesus Christ, can we catch a break sometime soon? More opinions on that later.) While America and New York may have been wounded, Sick Of It All are on the scene making sure that we kick start ourselves, brush off the ashes and head right back into the good fight. Cheers, gentlemen.

After SOIA left the stage, the crowd was treated to an unannounced surprise. The Chicago Police Emerald Society Pipe and Drums band took the stage. The Chi-town pipers/drummers set consisted of patriotic American tunes like “God Bless America” and I swear at one point I heard strains of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” as well. It was amazing to see the band’s lead drummer, well into his fifties, playing almost punk-rock speed as the crowd spurred him on with chants of “faster, faster.” When I talked to him post-show about how well he and the band had played, he just smiled and said “Hey, I’m a fan, just like you.”

Being a piper myself, I knew the pipers and drummers were paying a hefty tribute to those lost in NYC on 9/11. They were, in words stolen from the aforementioned film “Braveheart”: saying goodbye in their own way, playing outlawed tunes on outlawed pipes…..Then, they broke into the familiar call to arms of “Scotland the Brave” and I could almost hear Mills Lane’s raspy mantra in the air: Let’s Get It On.

If patriotism, positivity, hard work and guts represents the necessary tools for the old-school American success story, and the results could be personified into a band, that band would be Dropkick Murphys. Ken Casey has created an Irish-American band based in punk rock, Oi! and the American working-class tradition, but one that expanded into so much more. The cliché review of “this band represents American values and the working man….” never rang more true, never sounded less clichéd, as that is exactly what the Murphys are about. Having seen them in their earliest appearances in Chi-town (playing Thurstons with the Business was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen) I can tell you they have been about these messages since day one. In the wake of recent events, I can think of no other band that could heal a cities battered and wounded subculture like the Murphys. As the lights dimmed, the familiar strains of Boston legends DYS “Wolfpack” started over the speakers (and I chuckled as the hardcore crew next to me asked themselves who it was.)

The familiar crowd chant “Let’s Go Murphys” echoed off the cavernous ceiling like a packed Wrigley Field and the band responded – The Murphys took the stage like a band possessed, like men with missions. The usual hit parade was present and old classics like the opener “Do or Die” and “Never Alone” had me front row and fighting off a sea of the mad. My favorite from the new record “Heroes From Our Past” got my boots moving, as did the normal drinking anthems “The Wild Rover” and “Finnegan’s Wake.” As is now tradition, the ladies flooded the stage for “The Spicy McHaggis Jig” (including some particularly well-endowed ladies at that) and Spicy looked slightly bemused by it all, shaking his head and laughing.

Spicy was like a man-at-arms all night, playing his “instrument of war” as if the bands lives REALLY DID depend on him, like Scots Pipers did all those centuries ago. Mark Orrell is a wonder-kid, with Angus Young-style flash on the lead guitar, balanced out by the equally grand James Lynch, who is more like a guitar version of bass player John “The Ox” Entwistle of the Who – all power, no mess, no fuss, just pure impact. I couldn’t hear Ryan Foltz as well as I have in the past, which might’ve had something to do with the fact that I was front row, stage right the whole night. I know from the past, however, the kid’s a talent, playing both mandolin and whistle, both of which are a bugger to play. Matt Kelly, as usual, keeps things moving, and his mix of punk rock/Celtic-style drumming makes him the best in the biz. Al Barr, as most know, is a legend. Barr controls the chaos and winds the crowd up when necessary and brings them back down when needed. He definitely is exercising more vocal control and range with the Murphys than he did with the Bruisers. Ken Casey – well – Ken is the visionary. Thanks to Ken, the world of punk rock is enlightened. While Oi! comparisons don’t really fit musically anymore, the spirit is the same – sounds from the streets created by neighborhood guys who lived it. Giving the laborer a voice. Rallying around the country’s needs. Seeing that patriotism isn’t viewed as a negative. (Anti-Flag anyone?) As a songwriter, Ken is, to me, like a Brendan Behan figure. A working class kid who’s been through a lot and who knows how to string sentences together to evoke emotional responses from his audience. It’s as simple as that. Call-and-response. Big choruses that fit right in at any barroom sing-along. Lyrics that make the old fellas in the neighborhood nod and wink, inhale their smoke, take a pull off their well-worn flask and bask proudly in the glory Casey evokes in his songs. And a wicked bass player to boot. Too bad he’s a Bruins fan. Go `Hawks.

The event offered numerous thoughtful surprises – the band dedicated the old classic “John Law” from the “Tattoos and Scally Caps” 7″ (has it been that long?) to all the policemen and firemen who lost their lives battling the terror that was 9/11. I don’t know if I’ve been happier or more proud to hear a song in my life. “Far Away Coast” packed a similar emotional wallop, in tribute to the soldiers that are defending God’s Country as we speak. The audience themselves came alive and embraced the unity the Dropkicks preached – There were soldiers embraced with skinheads, cops arm-in-arm with punks (yes, it’s true) and greasers and psychos and just regular guys and girls. It was a sight to witness. Ken stopped several times to point out that America needs to remember their forgotten, to honor their fallen – to never forget. He led the crowd in “Amazing Grace” and noted that a portion proceeds from the show are going to the New York Firefighters 9-11 Relief Fund.

When all was said and done, when the last strains of “Skinhead on the MBTA” were no more, the boys thanked the crowd, packed it up and left the stage. No encores. None were needed. This show was about American Pride, not band pride. Point well taken. The Murphys came to us that night like the boys from the old brigade, called back into action when we need them most. They came to town to raise the flag high and raise spirits even higher. Mission accomplished, lads. Slainte. Much thanks to them, Tiger Army and Sick Of It All.

By Sean Holland

Dropkick Murphys – The Showbox, Seattle WA (October 2005)

Just got back from a really great DKM show here in Jet City! DKM rocked The Showbox with a nice, tight, energetic, fast-paced show that left little time if any time for the good sized crowd to catch it breath moving from song to song briskly but orderly. (If orderly can be used in this context.)

Starting off with “You’re Spirit’s Alive”, they moved through some of their new stuff, naturally, like “Sunshine Highway”, “Walking Dead”, “Citizen CIA”, “The Burden”,”Captain Kelly’s Kitchen”, “warrior’s Code” their older stuff, “Worker’s Song”, “Which Side Are You On?”, “Skinhead On the MTBA”, the “Spicy McHaggis Jig” with the ladies in the crowd on stage of course and ended with a cool cover of “Halloween” (yes, the one by the Misfits!) I’m sure I might have left one or two out but my ears are still ringin’. They never do “Good Rats” though…

During the set they also did a rather subdued version of “Fields Of Athenry” in honor of fallen USMC Sergeant Andrew Farrar who said in a letter to his family that he wanted the Murphy’s version of the same to played at his funeral if he didn’t make it back from Iraq. Sadly, he did not. The band has done a special limited edition of this and has made some copies available for sale with all proceeds going to the Farrar family.

On a side note, Ken Casey did a really cool thing during the show. There was a mohawked young kid at the front of the crowd with his father who was apparently having a bit of a problem with the crowd so Ken had one of the roadies get him out of there and on the side of the stage for a breather. Marc Orrell gave him a neat up close show as well.

Good on ya lads!

The opening acts, Lost City Angels and Gang Green were pretty good too. (Darkbuster was supposedly on the bill as well but I didn’t see ’em.) LCA did a nice set but the highlight was Marc Orrell from DKM doing vocals on Gang Green’s cover of “Sin City” by AC/DC. Speaking of Orrell, this guy is a dynamo on stage! He rarely takes a moment off and is gangbusters throughout.

Afterwards, there was a meet and greet along with a benefit for the Farrar family at a local pub. This was great fun as well with the band meeting everyone and auctioning off some signed goodies.

I was struck by how “everyday” these guys were. They were having a great time meeting and talking to everyone and didn’t come off with any kind of negative vibe at all. This was a great ending to the night.

All in all it was well worth the time and money. If you have a chance to see them, do it, you won’t be disappointed.

Definitely better than both their Moore Theater and Warped Tour gigs but those were venue related. The Moore HAD seats all the way to the stage, thus no pit, until there was some creative “redecorating” and the Gorge, as great as it is, is too big. Dropkick Murphys are best enjoyed in close and with full volume.

Thanks for the awesome show guys! See ya next time…

Review by The Blackstuff

Dropkick Murphys, Good Riddance, The Casualties – The Crystal Ballroom, Portland OR (October 27, 2003)

Today was a great day, The Dropkick Murphys were in town, and I was scheduled to interview Al, & Mark around 5:00 or so. I got there during soundchecks. I watched them reherse the song Forever, with some local fiddlers. Sounded good. Decided to do my part and slap Shite’n’Onions stickers on everything, and everybody. (Yeah, that was me, no big deal) I eventually interviewed Al, and Mark aka (The Kid) BTW, they were very cool, and very down to earth. (For those keeping score) A couple hours went by…

I missed the first band, but got there just in time for The Casualties. They remind me of The Exploited minus the accent. They sure seem to enjoy opening up for Celt-Punk bands, cause the last time I saw them, they opened for Flogging Molly. Next up, Good Riddance, I heard they were straight edge, so I went straight to the bar and ordered the drinks that they decided to pass up on, pretty good, but not what I came out to see, if you know what I mean…

It seemed like forever for the Dropkick Murphys to take stage. Random chants throughout the sold out crowd. “Let’s Go Murphys!!” My voice was shot before the band even played a note. My feet were numb from stomping the ballroom floor over and over. (I also knew that they were downstairs, so I stomped twice as hard.) Finally, after what seemed like eternity, Scruffy took the stage with his bagpipes in a headlock, and played Cadence To Arms. The hungry Portland crowd became so fucking loud that you could barely even hear the pipes! Out came the band. And the crowd got even louder. Damn! What a fine bunch we had tonight. I think the sound guys had to turn up the volume a bit, because the distortion was a bit high. Meanwhile the band continued to play various songs from their new album “Blackout” and a bunch from previous records. I was having too much fun to keep track of each and every song. I worked my way down to the front of the pit. Interesting crowd once again. There were no bouncers on stage, so quite often it would get a little crowded with stagedivers up there. Eventually, the Dropkicks roadie crew had to run out and push people off every so often. I have always laughed at the Crystal Ballroom’s “Security”, especially tonight. I swear they took the night off.

Any of you tall people know what I mean when it comes to crowd surfers, I think I broke a personal record tonight, as far as boot-to-face ratio went. I probably had a bloody nose, black eye, lump on head, whatever…I still wasn’t going anywhere. It had been a couple years since i’ve see the Dropkick Murphys. Then it happened… Someone stood on my heel, and off went my shoe… Shit. This has happened plenty of times before, and i’ve always gotten it back, but I guess tonight was my night. (The night you see your shoe fly across the stage!) I decided to stay put. Fuck it, I said. Then without warning, STOMP! Moments later, STOMP!! My foot probably looked like a crushed three day old calzone by now. I held my ground… STOMP! Okay, fuck it. I decided to retreat to the bar and watch from there, calzone foot and all. Eventually, the show was finished. The crowd screamed for more, but it was over. As I limped out the ballroom, I thought, ” Once again, a damn fine show, by the Dropkick Murphys.” I then wiped a little crusty dried blood off from under my nose and smiled. I can’t wait to do it all over again.

If anyone found a dirty brown right footed size 11 shoe (Vans) let me know, I’ll buy you a beer!
Review by Brian “Gimpy Foot” Gillespie

Shamrocked, Part 2 – Inside the Shamrock-N-Roll Festival (September 2011)

September 15, 2011

John Curtin is the drummer Tin Whistle and  Bodhran play for The Gobshites (and a stand-up comic but not with The Gobshites – that’s Pete Walsh’s gig).  John posted recently on his blog, “This Is Not A Rant”, an non-rant about the Shamrock-N-Roll Festival stop in Bangor where The Gobshites played – I thought it would be cool to post as a review of the show and an insider view of what was going on. So, in John’s own words……

This weekend was pretty exciting.  The Gobshites played Shamrock-N-Roll Festival in Bangor, Maine with headliners Dropkick Murphy’s, as well as Stiff Little Fingers, Street Dogs, the Mahones, Chuck Ragan, and the Parkington Sisters.  We were part of the local band “Undercard” that included Pubcrawlers, Bar Stuards, Beantown Boozehounds, and the O’Tooles.  Our set wasn’t until 3PM, but we had to be there at 10 in the morning, which meant leaving the house at 5.  Ah, the life of a rock star.  Due to a couple of last minute cancellations, I ended up playing drums (And a HUGE thanks to the O’Tooles for letting us use their kit.  Lifesavers, so y’are!), and we borrowed Travis from the Pubcrawlers (Another big thank you) to play tin whistle.

It was a long day, but boy was it fun.  The local bands hung out in the field behind the “B” stage, and it was like a cookout without the grill.  Everyone brought their amber-colored liquid of choice (mine, of course, was iced tea), and Jess went into teacher mode and organized the snacks along with the Pubcrawlers’ ladies (Who brought sandwich making materials.  We brought plenty of crunchy stuff, plus popcakes and Nutella.  We definitely made some converts that day.).  Everyone came out to watch each other’s sets, and there was actually a pretty decent sized crown there from the start.  We’ve played festivals where no one really shows up until the main acts start, so it was nice to see folks supporting the local acts too.  It definitely added to everyone’s energy on stage, which resulted in some really fun sets from everyone.

As for our performance, well, it could have been better in my opinion.  But nonetheless, we were well received.  Actually, the crowd seemed to appreciate everyone, which was nice.  For some reason, I kept dropping sticks.  I don’t know if it was exhaustion from the long drive or what, but my right hand just could not seem to get a proper grip on the drumstick.  Weird.  Plus I could barely hear the rest of the band, so I don’t even know if I was playing in time.  Oh well, it’s punk rock, it’s not supposed to be pretty.  At least I had the Nutella handy to wash all of my frustrations away…

The main stage started up around 6 or so, with the first act being the Parkington Sisters.  Not an act you’d typically expect to see at a show like this.  But what they lacked in sonic boom-ness, they made up for in profanity.  There’s just something about a hot chick that can wail on a fiddle and swear like a stevedore.  I’ve been listening to a lot of rootsy music lately, so they were a welcome interlude.  Not everyone liked them, but Jess and I did, so they made at least two fans that day.  Mahones were up next.  We opened for them in Boston last Summer, but I unfortunately had to miss that show, so this was actually the first time I’d ever seen them live.  Wow, they put on a great show.  Their whistle player is simply amazing, and their accordion player was lively and leggy.  Mama’s got a squeezebox, indeed.

Chuck Ragan had a good set, although I had gone to get dinner during much of it.  His low growl and emotion really drove his folk punk songs.  I need to pick up some of his music.  We’ve played withStreet Dogs before, and they’re about as good a punk rock band as there is nowadays.  Mike and Johnny really know how to fire up a crowd, everybody was moving and having a good time during their set.  If they come to your town, make sure you don’t miss it.  For reals, these guys scorched the stage.

The band I was most excited to see was Stiff Little Fingers.  Punk rock legends.  Northern Ireland’s answer to The Clash.  As with the Mahones, I had to miss the show we opened for them a few months ago, so this was a second chance to bask in the glow of one of my all time favorite bands.  They pulled out almost all the hits.  I found myself singing along like a twelve year old girl at a Justine Bieber concert (No, I’m not linking to his website.).

We didn’t stay for the entire Dropkick Murphy’s set, because by then we’d been walking around and rocking out for nearly 12 hours.  So I missed the acoustic part of the show, and the part where Ken Casey stepped on my friend Gina’s head (She’s fine, she actually got kind of psyched about it.).  I’ve seen them many many times, and they’re a great live act, but we were totally spent and decided to call it a night.  Luckily, Jess has family not too far away, so we sacked out there with two of the biggest dogs I’ve ever seen and a kitten with double paws, who seemed and acted like a long lost relative of Finn.

Sunday’s drive home was long, but fun (I retained my Punchbuggy crown), and we ended the weekend at Secret Society Tattoo and Art Gallery in Worcester.  They were having an art opening for a local artist, and Jess was pouring the whisky (she spells it without the “E”, so I will too).  The food was good, and I met some cool folks from the Worcester arts scene.  Jeff Gemma and Danny Gunns, the guys who do the ink slinging there, were in attendance (Jeff is actually the owner), and it was a cool, laid back way to finish the weekend.

Tonight, the Gobshites try out a new drummer, and we’re playing out on the deck again this Friday at Mick Morgan’s in Sharon.  Last time there was an absolute blast, so I’m definitely looking forward to this show.  Stop by and say hi if you can.

Souveniers are available in the gift shop…

John Curtin


Dropkick Murphys: 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory

December 27, 2017

Released much earlier this year, 11 Short Stories just seemed to disappear from conscious. Unfortunately while it’s a solid enough album with some highlights such as Blood, Sandlot, Had A Hat and 4-15-13 there is no knockout tracks and if I’m going to spin some Murphy’s this isn’t the album I find myself reaching for.

Continental: Millionaires

April 27, 2015

Millionaires is the second full length release from Continental, Rick Barton’s post Dropkick Murphys vehicle. If your familiar with Rick’s post DKM stuff it’s more of the same – big guitars, big hooks, Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer drinking cheap whiskey and riding boxcars, and not a single bagpipe wail in earshot. The album is on vinyl from the nice folks at East Grand.

Continental: All A Man Can Do

August 31, 2013

Rick Barton is a Boston punk legend going back to the early eighties with The Outlets and then as a founder member of the Dropkick Murphys. Rick wrote I believe pretty much everything on the first two DKM album then left the band. Rick has spent the last decade or so off the music radar with the exception of a full-length in 2002 as Rick Barton and The Shadow Blasters. Rick couldn’t say away too long though and got into production, producing the Street Dogs 2010 self titled release.  Rick put together Continental in 2009 with his son Stephen on bass and 2013’s All A Man Can Do is their first full length (following up on an earlier 6 track ep). All A Man Can Do is in very much in the vein of the Shadow Blasters, American punk’n’roll that pay’s homage to the roots of rock’n’roll. An easy reference would be the Street Dogs or early DKM meets Johnny Cash. Highly recommended.

Dropkick Murphys: Going Out In Style … or, ‘How Dropkick Murphys Kinda Sorta Enriched All Our Lives If Only Just By A Little Green Drop’

April 23, 2011

‘Dropkick Murphys’. Very few band names have ever looked so good written down, or spoken out loud. That was a pretty good start. We are born and our parents give us a name and we often are that name, somehow. Likewise with bands. The best ones sound like the music itself. The actual name ‘Guns’n’Roses’ – no matter what may have happened since – sounds like the music on Appetite For Destruction. Rose Tattoo SOUND LIKE a band called ‘Rose Tattoo’. One of the best pairings of bands I’ve ever seen was indeed Rose Tattoo and Dropkick Murphys. The combination somehow showcased DKM at their best; a raucous soulful rock band with some bagpipes in the mix. A simple and spirited equation. Mean and clean and going toe-to-toe with Rose Tattoo. It looked and sounded better than other combinations I’ve seen them with play with. Hardcore bands, or skinhead bands, playing in support of Dropkick Murphys always seems too flatulent & ‘underground’ for my liking. Rose Tattoo, for fuck’s sake?! THAT’S more like it, and the two bands’ respect was clearly mutual.

I bought a black t-shirt with a skull and hockey logo (what else??) and left the venue uplifted by the utter lack of bullshit.

And I’ve bought a few more t-shirts since. We all have. Again, that name just looks so damn mean and right, written down above a skull. Throw in a shamrock or two and you’re part of a mythology. A hundred other bands have copied it, but who do you reckon you’ll remember?

Doesn’t matter how many by-numbers punk dandyisms you might bear witness to in a DKM audience, the music and delivery, at its best, has always been more akin to a Springsteen-and-denim approach than anything else. And thus Springsteen’s appearance on the new album’s sentimental singalong Peg O’My Heart seems pretty earthy and right, and not novelty at all. And despite a merchandise catalogue that brings to mind Iron Maiden in its lurid flair and Madonna in its range of products (kids’ pencil cases), the paradox is that the Murphys maintain the credibility of Springsteen himself. They are mentioned in the same breath as fart-joke suburban mega ‘punk’ acts like NOFX (Fat Mike lends his tired whine to the new album) and yet they invite Dubliners and Pogues into their studios. The Church of Dropkick Murphys is a very broad church indeed.

But this Church has its tenets. From the mock-brawling skinheads who cheerfully incorporate the hockey skull into their own narrow regalia, right through to the lonely suburban kid with a cheap Dropkick Murphys flag pinned up in his bedroom, the audience know that the Murphys are on our side. The Murphys are on YOUR side! Solidarity must count for something, and there is power in the union.

And pirates are fun. The best song on Going Out In Style has to be the opening track, Hang ‘Em High. We don’t know who exactly the enemy is but we know we’re going to fight ‘em to the death, with our presumably vintage weapons, and that we’re all going to swing into action Captain Blood-style and the whole thing is going to be fucking mad fun. And only Dropkick Murphys can deliver that sort of fun. Jesus, they’ve out-pirated Flogging Molly ten times over by now. This song is like Master And Commander writ large in rock font. It’s got as much clout as Shipping Up To Boston and could only have been performed by the Murphys, (and I can’t even say for sure that the nature of the fighting is nautical, but there is a shark reference, so that’ll do).

Another tenet of the Church, of course is; Though Shalt Honour All Things Irish. Well, not all things Irish, but some things. Well, a couple of things. Irish equals tough. We’re in a black & white time capsule somewhere between James Cagney and On The Waterfront. That suburban kid in his bedroom, with his flags of punk piracy on the walls, he might be a Germanic Midwesterner, but if he squeezes his eyes tight, he can recall his great-great grandfather O’Flynn and proudly realize his imperative for clannish, rebellious, rough diamond behaviour. If he is, on the other hand, a lad in, say, the midwest of Germany, he can always get drunk on Guinness while listening to the new record, or settle for a show with some clone paddypunk band from Bavaria.

And so, everyone belongs, and everyone is sorta Irish. But there’s more to the Church than this, and also less than this, because the Murphys pepper their lyrics with in-jokes and hometown references – the title track is a case in point – in such a way as nobody can accuse them of over-tailoring their act for maximum audience haulage. This too is something of a paradox. In this sense, you can say they have stayed true to their roots, a cliché that has rarely meant much at all.

I saw a blaze of Dropkick Murphys t-shirts for sale at a market stall the other night, skeletons grinning away alongside Motley Crue and Iron Maiden, stacked up nicely against a leering AC/DC Angus-devil. Begorrah! Never mind all the blarney – and certainly don’t mind the bollocks, and the ever-present little punk mafias with Cock Sparrer patches pinned alongside Barroom Hero – we in Australia understand perfectly well that highland bagpipes belong in rock’n’roll. Those of us who saw the Murphys sing ‘Long Way To The Top’ as an encore, on the same bill as Rose Tattoo, certainly do hold this truth to be self-evident.

Let’s Go Murphys.


Will Swan
Sydney, Australia, April 2011