Jameson Street is a place you go to find warmth on a cold night or cool on a hot summer’s day. To see old friends and meet new ones, but most importantly, Jameson Street is somewhere you can go to while you leave your baggage and worries elsewhere.
Jameson Street, kicks off with the title track, a full force Céilí romp and possibly the most authentic trad sound I’ve ever heard coming out of any Celtic punk band. Once inside Jameson Street there is truly a meeting of old and new friends, all living Mahones past and present contribution to the album.
Rise Up (Be Strong), brings us back on a trip to the classic days of 1990s Mahones when the Mahones were the only game in town with their Pogues meets Waterboys meets The Replacements sound. Devil In Every Bottle, has you drinking arm in arm with your mates and you all in this together. Freeway Toll, also harkens back to the classic 90s days though this has just a touch of 90s alt-pop. While Watch Me Fall, has a raggle-taggle campfire feel. Lonesome Boatman, an instrumental, gives a loud nod to Celtic-rock granddaddies, Horslips, while winking at the Pogues at the same time. Holloway Jack, the first single off Jameson Street, started life on the Mahones debut, the cassette only, Clear the Way!! This is the definite version. While, Fiddle On Fire, is a manic Celtic jig – authentic as feck and if this doesn’t raise the dead and get them dancing I don’t know what would. She Comes For Love, is the second reworking of an older Mahones track (originally from Here Comes Lucky) this has a nice Replacements vibe.
The album closes appropriately with, Last Call At The Bar, which send us packing into the night as the barman yell’s “go home to fuck”.
Tacked on to the end of the album is a special bonus live cover of The Pogues, If I Should Fall From Grace With God, recorded when the Mahones toured Canada with Terry Woods and the late great Philip Chevron.
Jameson Street is in a toss up with, Angels and Devils, as the best Mahones album since the masterpiece, Here Comes Lucky.
As much as I hate the term supergroup – it gives me visions of Led Zeppelin or 80’s metal bands made up of exes and put together by some A&R guy (Flogging Molly fans check out Katmandü for a giggle). UltraBomb is a supergroup – in a good way. The punk power trio is made up of Finny McConnell of The Mahones, stickman extraordinaire, Jamie Oliver of the UK Subs, and the legendary Mr. Greg Norton of Hüsker Dü – Hüsker Dü being of course the Saint Paul, Minnesota hardcore punk band that almost singlehandedly established and defined alternative rock in America during the 1980s.
So, give the three members, what does UltraBomb sound like? To my ears, its fast, powerful punk rock with great melodies, kind of like, well,…………Hüsker Dü, but with Finny’s distinctive vocals and Replacements-influenced guitar style – scratch any Mahones track and you’ll hear. Time To Burn, is really great stuff and despite various setbacks (canceled tours due to covid and Greg’s health), Time To Burn, is gonna EXPLODE!
Just got to hear an advance copy of the new Mahones album, Jameson Street, and it’s really impressive. In some regards it’s a throwback to the early Mahones releases and features multiple guests including Dave from the Peelers and Nick from the Dreadnoughts as well as members of the original legendary Mahones line-up. There is also a special treat on the album for Pogues fans.
Shite’n’Onions – First of all apologies for being so late to the game – I read a write up on you in London Celtic Punks a couple of months back and was so impressed by what I read that I ran out and bought your album “All Manner of Ways”. After a few spins, I really like it but I’m struggling to put a label on your sound. I hear outlaw or alt-country – you remind me of people like Townes Van Zandt and Blaze Foley, yet I also hear Christy Moore – it’s almost country with a Celtic soul. How would you describe your music and who influenced you?
Dylan – Yeah, Eddie & London-Celtic-Punks do great work in raising awareness for artists, glad to have had their support recently. You know yourself, most publicity is bought & paid for, so when people like yourselves reach out to an artist, on your own time, purely based on the fact that you’re actually interested in the artist & their work, well, it’s more of a genuine thing isn’t it? I’ve never paid for PR myself & I self released that record, so I expect it to continue to reach people as time rolls on, rather than it having reached a lot of people from the get-go. Naturally, when you first release a record, after all the hard work that goes into making it, you do what you can to get it heard. My drive for getting an album heard, is always geared towards the gigs. I’m a live artist, not so much a studio artist, so other than working on the songs themselves, I’m always thinking of the gigs. As much as that record is considered a studio album, my own performance is completely live on there, I didn’t use click tracks, headphones or overdubs or anything like that. I sat in the room, in front of a couple of mics & played the songs live. With having moved to Nashville from Dublin, via London, I did have distribution issues in getting hard copies across seas to folks, but we live in a digital age, so it was available to be listened to anyways. I’m sure all this played a part, in the album reaching people quite some time after its release, but a lot of new listeners found that album during the pandemic.
I guess All Manner Of Ways is the sound of my life’s journey. That album wasn’t designed with a certain audience in mind, like how a lot of genre based albums are. When other musicians join in on my songs, I only really know when it’s not right, which is more of a feel thing, I don’t to ask them to play a particular way. I’ve never had a contemporary sound either, so I think that record will always sit a little outside of whatever is current, ye know? Songs inspired me, not genres. In my formative years, I just followed the songs. I was brought up on Christy Moore & at that time, I wouldn’t have even known what a genre was. Of course, eventually, we learn more about the journey of songs & where they came from, which helps us to describe their sound, but artists like Townes & Blaze just had great songs & I believed them, that’s what was most important to me. Townes sang Dirty Old Town & Christy sang Song To Woody. A lot of the Irish folk song pioneers, of the 60s & 70s, were immersed in American song traditions in their formative years & of course, Irish music is a root of American Roots music, so I never really felt any restraints in that regard. It was immediately obvious to me, how connected it all was. Van Morrison would be the most obvious example of that. As soon as I became aware of genres & the likes, I knew the artists that communicated important things to me, wrote outside of those restraints. I enjoy the fact that you mentioned Celtic country here & that you came across me in a punk article. That makes me feel good. ‘Celtic soul got country’, we’ll go with that for All Manner Of Ways.
Shite’n’Onions – You are originally from Dublin and you followed the natural route of many Irish musicians to London but now you are based in Nashville. How did you end up in Nashville? I’ve been there a few times and it’s a culture shock to me (and I’ve been in Boston 25 years). How do they accept an Irish guy playing in Nashville? Is there a good alternative scene in Nashville (outside of Music Row and the Broadway Honkey Tonks?
Dylan – Yeah, I was born & raised in Loughlinstown, a very working class area on the south eastern outskirts of county Dublin. From an early age, I had a hunger to experience the diversity I imagined a big city would offer. By my late teens, I had my eye on New York, but I ended up in London instead. For the guts of ten years, I lived all over London, in places like Kentish Town, Crystal Palace, Tottenham, East Finchley, Acton & Forest Hill. I had arrived in London with a guitar & songs to sing, but it was during my London years, that I learned how to be a live solo performer. Towards the end of my time in London, I began to venture over to the continent of Europe, which led to me performing at Muddy Roots fest in Waardamme, Belgium in 2013. Muddy Roots fest is run by a label of the same name & they are based out of Nashville. In 2014, I was invited over here to the States, to play some gigs & record for that label. During that visit, I met my now wife. So initially, it was music that brought me over here to Nashville, but eventually, I moved here to be with my wife.
Nashville is an interesting town, it’s very much its own thing. There’s nowhere else like Nashville, not in my experience anyways. You could draw some comparisons with Austin, Texas maybe, but even then, Nashville could still be considered, to be more of a self-interest-music-biz-town in a lot of ways. Many people move here, in an effort to further themselves within the music industry, but I don’t tend to be around those people much, as it’s not really where I’m at in life. I become friends with people, for who they are, not for what I think they can offer me, ye know? I think you can find alternative scenes in most towns & Nashville has a lot going for it, but you would definitely have to dig a little deeper, to find alternative scenes here, especially if you’ve lived in a place like London, or even Dublin for that matter. This isn’t Country Music City, It’s Music City, but in fairness, you’d be hard pushed to even find some of the more mainstream genres, like Reggae or Celtic Punk. Bill Herring of 1916 just moved here from Rochester, New York & there’s a strong possibility, that he may very well be, the only active Celtic Punk singer currently living here. No joke. My wife & I love Nashville & it’s a town full of great people, but we do keep an eye out for other places to live though too.
Speaking of honky tonks, Broadway & alternative scenes, there is a very healthy local honky tonk scene here in Nashville, away from the downtown areas. Over towards East Nashville, there are important events like Honky Tonk Tuesdays, which have to be seen to be believed. It’s a revival of sorts I guess. You could also maybe say, that there’s another folk revival currently in bloom too. When it comes to traditions, I’m not much of a fan of the term ‘revival’, continuity has always been there for me, but those traditions have been entering mainstream culture again, in an obvious way. There are a handful of honky tonks on Broadway, that the locals will still go to, like Robert’s Western World or Layla’s, & some of the best & hardest working musicians are in those places to, but for the most part, locals don’t tend to visit the majority of honky tonks on Broadway or the bars over on Music Row.
All in all, we’re spoiled rotten here for music, both in quality & in quantity. It’s a very vibrant town & like everywhere else, it’s fast changing. As for myself, I really haven’t played in Nashville much, during the time I’ve been based here, but that’s about to change.
Shite’n’Onions – Speaking of Celtic-punk you have written/recorded with James Fearnley of The Pogues and The Walker Roaders. How did that come about? Any plans for future collaborations? And you have toured with Flogging Molly, The Mahones and the odd metal band – how did those tours go?
Dylan – Well, most of those things would be linked. I met Flogging Molly here in Nashville in 2016. We got chatting, they had a listen to my music & I got an invite to perform on their punk rock cuise in 2017. The Flogging Molly Cruise was an amazing experience. The cruise ship left from Miami & it travelled through the Bahamas for a few days, with bands like DeVotchKa, The Skatalites, NOFX, The English Beat, Voodoo Glow Skulls & of course, Flogging Molly too. Flogging Molly’s accordion player, Matt Hensley, is also a renowned skateboarder, so they had a skate ramp up on deck, between the pools & the stage. Matt got his old skateboarding crew together & they skated away while the bands played. The cruise ship had various venues throughout its decks & we all performed multiple times over the course of the few days. By my last performance on there, quite a crowd had gathered for my set. Flogging Molly’s singer, Dave King, joined me on stage too & that helped a lot with the momentum of things. Dave & his wife, Bridget Regan, couldn’t have been more supportive of me. I’ll always be very grateful for that. Once I finished out, the last song of my last set, Dave & Bridget told me that they wanted to take me on tour with them. Later that same year, they did just that. I went on a US & Canadian tour, as the third & opening act, with Flogging Molly & The White Buffalo.
I didn’t write with James Fearnley of The Pogues, but James did add accordion to two of my songs from from that album, All Manner Of Ways. I’ll try not to make this confusing, but again, it’s all linked up. My actor & musician pal, Zander Schloss, was also performing on The Flogging Molly Cruise. Zander had his then manager, Tom Barta, on board with him too. Zander has been in many bands, such as The Cirlce Jerks, The Weirdos & The Latino Rockabilly War with Joe Strummer, but Zander & his then manger, Tom, were also in a band together, known as The Low & Sweet Orchestra. Well, James Fearnley was also in The Low & Sweet Orchestra. So Zander, Tom & James were all in that band together, they are all friends & they are all based out of LA. Are ye still with me? Hah. Just to further confuse things, at that time, Tom had also started to manage James Fearnley’s new band, The Walker Roaders. While I was on the punk rock cruise with Zander, Tom said that he also wanted to manage me. So, for a time, Tom Barta ended up managing Zander, James & myself. My tour with Flogging Molly & The White Buffalo, started at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California, so my wife & I flew out to LA, a day or two before the first show of the tour, to meet up with Tom Barta & James Fearnley there. I kept in touch with James after that & he added accordion to a couple of songs on All Manner Of Ways for me. We’ve already spoken about the flavour of that album, so it was important for me, to have someone like James on that record. Especially on the songs that he performs on. I grew up on The Pogues & having James on Where Dublin Meets Wicklow, the only song on that album that references home, really grounded the spirit of the album for me. James used the same accordion, that he used on The Pogues album, Rum Sodomy & The Lash too. Back in Nashville, I had recently opened for Spider Stacy, who was also in The Pogues, so it was all a real buzz for me & a serious honour.
On the back of that momentum, I met up with a Swedish booking agent, to arrange a solo headline tour of Scandinavia. During that meeting, the agent put the idea to me, of touring Europe & the UK in 2019, with the Swedish heavy metal band Avatar. Avatar had brought a one-man-band on their previous tour & they were looking to keep some of that flavour for their next tour. Originally, I was asked to be the opening & third act, on a bill with Avatar & a Canadian psychobilly band from Montreal called The Brains. The Brains weren’t able to do that tour in the end, but their drummer also drummed for The Mahones, so The Mahones joined the tour instead. That was one hell of a tour. I also joined The Mahones on stage for most of those shows & towards the end of that tour, I ended up being the only support act. When you’re a solo acoustic act, people can have a very limited perception or vision of what your gig can be. Some promoters, gig goers & event organisers, fail to understand, that it’s not only about the amount of people on stage, the type of instruments that are being played, how well known the act is, or how upbeat the music is considered to be. All most solo acts require, is the potential of an atmosphere to work with. All in all, it boils down to being able to communicate. There isn’t going to be much of an atmosphere, if you put a solo act on early, before a crowd has time to settle, or if you put a solo act on a tiny stage, off to the side somehwere, while a DJ in the background drowns them out. If you give any performer, the chance to communicate within an atmosphere, it can often become something far more special than any wall of sound could ever offer. I will say this though, if you do put on a solo act, in front of a large crowd, make sure their volume is at a decent level, otherwise they’re fucked. It’s not that you need to be loud to play to a crowd, but if there isn’t that loud place to go to, the performance can feel far less dynamic & attention spans may drift as a result. So, over the years, I was kind of on a mission to see how far I could take the solo acoustic thing & that was kind of it, being the direct support act to a Swedish heavy metal band, in countries were English is their second language. Some nights, I just stood there & sang A cappella, to a crowd waiting for a pyrotechnic metal show. That tour definitely divided opinions, but there were many beautiful & spirited moments & the magic that comes with that, will make any challenge worth the risk. That was the last extensive tour that I’ve done too.
Shite’n’Onions – This has been a great interview, Dylan. Final question. So, what’s next for you?
Dylan – No bother John. Thanks for your time & consideration. As for what’s next, I really don’t have any solid answers for that. Everything has been so unpredictable of late, ye know yourself. The pandemic hasn’t been a creative period for me, as I tend to do everything at the same time. Touring encourages me to write & vice versa. Like I was saying earlier, most of what I do is geared towards the gigs, but things are starting to pick up again & I’m getting out on the road whenever possible. I had an amazing gig at Muddy Roots Music Festival this year, it was my first time back there in five years & it couldn’t have gone better. That’s the same crowd I was also mentioning earlier, the same label that brought me over here to the States back in 2014. It was a very grounding & wholesome experience to reconnect with all that. I was in Maryland & North Carolina, there last weekend, doing a couple of great shows & that local Nashville residency has just started too. I’m currently booking for Europe & the UK, for March & April in 2022, which I’ll finish out with a visit home to Ireland as well. So hopefully that will all be able to go ahead come the time. I also recently started my own interview show, The Stirring Foot, which you’ll find on all the usual streaming platforms. Episode one was with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, episode two was with Steve Ignorant of Crass & episode three will be with John Sheahan of The Dubliners. It’s more of an audio montage series, than actual conversations, but it’s been amazing catching up with those artists through zoom calls. They’ve reminded me of why I started playing music myself, at a time when I really needed to be reminded. So I’ll keep my website updated with any further news & hope to see ye down the road. Thanks again pal
A second opinion on Finny McConnell’s solo debut from our Springfield, Mass scribe Brian Grady.
The Dark Streets of Love, is the strongest reminder that Finny McConnell is one of the best Celtic-rock minds of our time
Is this a love letter to all things Celtic rock, or rock and roll in general, maybe? Finny McConnell has penned some of my favorite songs in the genre, one of which is my wedding song (Little bit of Love). So watching him on social media building this album and working on it before and through the pandemic, I was excited to hear it when it came out. Having a mix of new and older music on it, the new versions of existing songs have such heart and soul. I’m in love with them in a completely different way.
Stars (Oscar Wilde) is one of those songs with a completely new arrangement and feel, you can hear a strong swell of emotion throughout this song, a vibe you get in most of this album, these are personal, almost breaking his heart to sing, it just about puts a tear in my eye to listen to them. You’re on a journey with Finny on this CD, one that may be slightly uncomfortable, but you’re going to love him even more deeply and appreciate this album the more you listen. Technically this has a garage band recording quality towards it, that feels intentional, and something I personally love. There are points you can hear him give notes to the band under his breathe in Atlantic City that clearly were meant to stay and add an atmosphere that your there in the room with him while they were recording, is this style for everyone? Maybe not, but I love it and think it adds so much more to this experience than just listening to some songs on a digital download. Also, there are points in some of the songs you can hear him well up with emotion, and my God that’s some artistry opening your heart to everyone like this, some people are great at singing on an album, but it takes a real artist to perform like this on a solo album. So the summary is its 11 tracks, some you’ll like, some you’ll love, and if you’re like me you’ll absolutely fall in love with Finny all over again. I found the album on Amazon, they are selling it on the label’s site too, and I’m sure it’s all over Spotify and Apple too. My suggestion is to get it, listen to it a bunch of times to get the fullest out of it, you’ll pick out your favorite songs, and probably keep them in a Playlist. If you’re not already following the Mahones or Finny on the socials, I suggest doing that as well, tell him I sent you.
The Dark Streets Of Love is Mahones leader Finny McConnell’s first solo effort in his thirty plus years of taking Celtic-punk to the four corners of the earth. To most people, Finny is the Mahones, so why the solo project? While The Mahones have previously done an acoustic album, The Dark Streets Of Love, allows McConnell to step outside of The Mahones and the preconceived notions of what his songs should sound like and put a different (non-Mahones) touch on his music. I’ve said it before that McConnell is a very fine songwriter but often the sheer quality of the songs gets lost behind the force of nature that is The Mahones. Here, everything is stripped down to it’s raw essence. This is McConnell’s Nebraska – in fact a cover of Springsteen’s Atlantic City (from Nebraska) opens the album. Other influences are covered too, Shane MacGowans, A Pair of Brown Eyes and Pale Blue Eyes by Lou Reed. The real strength though is McConnell’s own material previously recorded with The Mahones such as the lament, So Far Away, and the sleazy lounge lizard, Cocktail Blues. The emotional tribute to his old mate, Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip in the cover of Fiddlers Green (for Gord) is stunningly good.
I didn’t put out a best of 2019 list on St. Patrick’s Day 2020 and the whole world went to shite. So, in my attempt to fix the strange vortex we have been in since, here with no further ado is the Shite’n’Onions best of 2020 (and 2019)
The Top 6:
#1 The Go Set: Of Bright Futures….and Broken Pasts
#2 Greenland Whalefishers: Based on a True Story
#3 The Walker Roaders: The Walker Roaders
#4 The Real McKenzies: Beer & Loathing
#5 The Tan & Sober Gentlemen: Veracity
#6 Bodh’aktan: Ride Out The Storm
Best 30 Year Retrospective:
The Mahones: This Is All We Got To Show For It (Best Of 1990 – 2020)
1990 – 2020 means 30 years (!!!) of one of the original and greatest of all the Celtic-punk bands, The Mahones. Starting out from the back room of a pub in Kingston, Ontario, The Mahones have brought their own brand of Celtic-punk to a world wide fan base. To celebrate reaching middle age, The Mahones have released, This Is All We Got To Show For It, on glorious green vinyl. While this is not the first best of….. from The Mahones, it is the first on wax and the first opportunity we have to hear almost all of the songs here on vinyl.
Side one opens with the monstrous Shakespeare Road and its classic after classic till Celtic Pride closes-out side B. While long time fans may argue about what songs were included and what were excluded (where is The Queen and Tequila?), the 10 tracks here perfectly sum up the best of 30 years. This is a limited edition release so get it before it’s gone and hopefully the entire back catalog gets a vinyl release someday.