Tag Archives: The Tossers

Podcast# 68, 999 Years of Irish History (part 1)

January 19, 2013

Battle of Clontarf

The Prodigals – Boru’s March

Ceann – Blame The Viking

1014 is the best place to start Mustard Finnegan’s history of Ireland. It in that year Brian Boru defeated the Danes. For hundreds of years, Ireland was known as the Isle of Saints and Scholars – the image of monks in monasteries; smoking pot, lovingly illustrating copies of the gospels, praying and guiding the heathens in Europe outta of the Dark Ages. Though not  all of that is necessarily the true. Ireland was made up of a bunch of small kingdoms with kings more like Afghan warlords or the Bloods and Crips – I’m the king of from here to that rock over there and I’m gonna steal your cattle and run back to my ring fort. Ireland had big problem with the Vikings. The Vikings were a bunch of dudes from Scandinavia with helmets with horns sticking out of them who loved to vacation in Ireland and plunder the Irish monasteries and murder the monks. After a few hundred years of this the Vikings started to stay around and started, like all the cities in Ireland and meddled in Irish politics (bit like the EU these days).

Vikings. Horny fellows coming to rape and pillage
comely Irish maidens

Brian was an ambitious sort of fella and conquered one Irish kingdom after another and made them pay tribute to him (this is not like Michael Jackson’s Tribute, Brian would take hostage of the kid of the lesser kings and if the lesser king didn’t do his bidding and pay taxes and send solders when Brian needed them then that was the end of the young fella). Once the Irish were under his heal he went after the meddling Vikings of Dublin. Coming face to face for battle on Clontarf beach on Good Friday 1014 – the Irish warriors kicked serious Viking ass along with kicking the asses of the Dublin Viking’s mates from the Isle of Mann and Denmark – many of whom after the beat down drown in Dublin Bay trying to escape the Celtic axemen, starting the long tradition of pollution in Dublin bay. Unfortunately, for Brian, who being wicked old (he was about 73) and was praying in his tent as the battle raged so he did not notice a sneaky Viking who suck up on the big B and buried an axe in Brian’s back and that was the end of him.

The Norman Invasion

Belfast Andi – Irish Ways Irish Laws

Diarmait does the dirty deed dirt cheap
Strongbow gets the girl and the Kingdom

After 1014, Ireland went back to it petty warlords fighting with each other over this bit of bog and that sheep over there and all was good and dandy until a woman got in the picture. In 1167, Diarmait Mac Murchada (that’s Murphy in English), King of Leinster (the east bit of Ireland) ran off with Derval (the woman in question), the daughter of the King of Meath (the rich bit of Ireland in them days and these day) and the wife of Tighearnán Mór Ua Ruairc (Terry O’Rourke in English), King of Bréifne (a strip of fields and bogs that ran from Meath to Sligo these days called Leitrim). Tighearnán was pissed off of course and with the help of the High King, Rory O’Conner, they ran old Diarmait outta the country. Diarmait being a schemer and a general a-hole approached a Norman Knight called Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke also known by the name Strongbow (Strongbow is much more Knightly and Ciderish name, Richard de Clare sound more like the name of the owner of chain of ladies hair saloons). Diarmait promised Strongbow his daughters hand in marriage, who by all accounts was a pretty hot chick, as well as succession rights as King of Leinster, if he’d help him out. Strongbow not having much going on as the King of England when not hammering the Scots was beating up on his own Knights, took him up on the offer and arrived with his mates (Fitzgerald, Fitzgibbon, Burke, Butler and Prendergast) and the best in 12th century military technology gold pieces could  buy. Shortly there after Diarmait was back being King of Leinster but over old England, old Henry II didn’t like the idea of one of his knights becoming a king of anything and setting up a rival kingdom so he called up the Pope and asked for the OK to invade Ireland (of course this is the one time the Pope is a bloody Englishman) and once permission given Henry arrives and declares himself Overlord of Ireland.

The Pale and Beyond

Blood or Whiskey – Follow Me up to Carlow/Holt’s Way

BibleCodeSundays – Clew Bay Pirates

The Dreadnoughts – Grace O’Malley

We can skip ahead to the 1590’s now, the Norman Knight have gone native (more Irish then the Irish themselves) and the English rule is now pushed back to the general Dublin Area – known as The Pale. Ever heard the expression “Beyond The Pale”? Meaning being outside proper behavior, well that was where the wild Irish lived with their new Norman mates, fighting with each other over this bog and that bog and the odd goat.

Grace O’Malley telling Lizzie 1 to stuff it.

One of those Chieftains was a woman called Grace O’Malley,  the Pirate Queen who was so fearsome that she show up bare breasted in Queen Lizzy’s court in London to demand the removal of the Queens representative in Connacht.

The Flight Of The Earls

Black 47 – Red Hugh

Queen Elizabeth was a tough old boot in her own right and took a leaf outta ol’ Brian’s book raising the sons of the Gaelic Chieftains in her court. One of these lads was Red Hugh O’Donnell of the Tyrone. Hugh and his mate O’Neill of Ulster (The O’Neills are the oldest and biggest family in Europe, there is something like 3,000,000 descendants of Niall of the Nine Hostages the original Neill running about, the O’ meaning descended from, talk about virile) played a good game with the Queen. When in her court they played along by English rules and when back home in Ulster they did what ever they bloody pleased. But Lizzie’s henchmen in Ireland keep pushing in on O’Neill and O’Donnell business and enough to piss’ em off that they stopped playing the game and rebelled. The Irish chieftains were able to push the Perfidious Albion almost out of the country but were finally defeated a the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 – Kinsale is as far as you can get from Ulster, being on the south coast in Cork. O’Neill and O’Donnell and most of the other O’s fled the country for Spain and that was the end of Gaelic Ireland.

The Plantation Of Ulster

The bollocks of Henry the Eight

Being traitors to the crown, all of the lands of the O’Neill and O’Donnell went to the crown who decided that the best way to control the Irish was to get rid of ‘em and replace ‘em with good English protestants – this was after the reformation of course.

“Here’s a health to the Protestant Minister And his church without meaning or faith For the foundation stones of his temple are The bollocks of Henry the Eight” – Brendan Behan

This plan didn’t work out so well as most of the smart English with ambitions for advancement went to the America’s and stole the Indians land so in Ulster the numbers had to be made up with low class, lowland Scots. The Irish got kicked out and the planters got the good land (and the natives the views).

Cromwell in Ireland


Flogging Molly – Tobacco Island

The Fisticuffs – Young Ned of The Hill

Ollie Cromwell, Lord Protector and general bastard. Warts’n’all

The 1600’s was an ugly time to live in Ireland. When the civil war broke out in England the Catholics of Ireland, Gaelic and Old English supported the cause of Charles I and took the opportunity to try and get their lands back from the planters – much slaughter followed. With the end of the war in England and Chuck’s head on a spike Cromwell turned his eye on Ireland and took revenge in the Irish for rebelling and waged holy war on the population. Cromwell was by far the biggest Fu#ker in Irish history, his soldiers laid wasted to much of the county, butchering the citizens of Wexford and Drogheda when the garrison of those cities didn’t surrender fast enough. When he didn’t murder you, then he transported you to Barbados to your death as a slave in the sugar plantations or worse to Connacht and eternity as a bogger. Allegedly Rihanna is descended from one of those Irish transported to Barbados…..I told you Cromwell was a fu#ker. Cromwell eventually dies (of malaria of all things) and the Stuarts are back on the throne of England. Cromwell’s body exhumed, hung, drawn and quartered.

Ollie Cromwell, Lord Protector and general bastard. Warts’n’all

 The Battle Of The Boyne

Roaring Jack – The Old Divide And Rule

Hugh Morrison – Ye Jacobites By Name

Prydein – Minstrel Boy

James II

The Tossers – Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye

William of Orange
(only one of these guys was was in Poison)
Patrick Sarsfield

The Stuarts were bad new. It would have been in everyone’s favor if Guy Fawkes had his way……BOOM! Things calmed down under Chuck II but there are problem when his brother Jimmy II replaces him. Well wee Jimmy was a Celtic support and the England parliament, Huns. They manage to live with him until a son was born and then they realism  the Catholics won’t be going away. Jimmy is given short shift and exiled to France with his daughter Mary and her Dutch son-in-law William of Orange put in his place. Jimmy II raises any army with the support of the King of France and sails for Ireland to join up with his Irish supporters.

James manages to set back peace, love and understanding 1,000 years in Ireland when he lays siege to the walled city of Londonderry. The siege is only lifted when Williams ships arrive with solders and supply’s . The two sides play cat and mouse for a little while and finally meet on the banks of the river Boyne on July 12th, 1690. James’ French and Irish army verses Willies Dutch, German, English troops. William wins and James runs away. The most ironic thing about this is the bad history that still abates- the brethren up in Ulster regard this a a victory over the Pope and Popery, yet the Pope was playing politics here not religion and supported the protestant William and most of Williams army was Catholic – the Pope was trying to stick it to the French. With Jimmy gone, the Irish fell back to Aughrim under the command of Patrick Sarsfield, defeat followed and then on to Limerick. The City of Limerick was put under siege (that it still needs to clean up after) but William didn’t want to wait it out and offered a fairly decent treaty – join me or go to France and join the French army. The Irish took the French route and spent the next hundred years dying on the battlefields of Europe for the ungrateful French. With Willie back in England and Sarfield and his men dying for France. The over loards in Ireland we left to their own devices to introduce the penal laws

“Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach!” – “Remember Limerick and Saxon Perfidy”

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File:The Battle of Fontenoy, 11th May 1745.png
Irish revenge for Limerick at Fontenoy

The Tossers: A shot with T. Duggins

October 2005

The scene: a small nearly empty part of Providence in a nearly empty bar scattered with various levels of punk rockers. The bar itself in the basement of what used to be a club is laid out nicely and looks too classy for the clientele this evening. The bartender looks more like a rave kid who seems only mildly amused at his patrons this evening, but is pouring a wide selection of beer and booze. For most though the choice is clear, the nearly local beer Narragansett.

My brother and I made the Monday evening trip down to the bar in little over an hour which is pretty impressive considering I did get lost! Once we got there, there was plenty of parking and the neighborhood was very quiet. The door staff was nice and there was plenty of room to fit a lot of people, if only it were the weekend. I do my usual walk in and search for the smiling face to welcome me to the show, and sure enough it’s one Gobshite after another that finds me. A round of welcomes and thanks for coming outs leads me to such parchment I needed a beer, luckily this happens to be a bar that serves such libations so I bellied up and ordered myself a pint. Looking over to the merchandise tables I noticed another familiar face, so I went over to say hi. It was Aaron Duggins, the tin whistle player and quiet guy of the group, not that the rest of them mind you are chatter boxes, but you really have be good at holding your end of a conversation to talk at length with Aaron.

I made my way around the room as the opening act played on and weren’t too bad, but I was waiting for The Gobshites and The Tossers to come on. When Tony Duggins came down the stairs and made his way around the room shaking hands to the local fans and people he knew, I was talking with Pete from The Gobshites about some nonsense or other. I stopped Tony and introduced the two and we all began to talk. When Pete had to go set up Tony and I retired to the bar for a pint or two. Part way through The Gobshites set in which The Tossers were definitely getting a kick out of boys show up there on stage, I pulled Tony over to the bar to do a shot.

T. was much more talkative this evening than was his brother and we decided that it was ok to discuss the future of the band this evening. We were sharply distracted of course by the lovely golden nectar being poured into little glasses that stood in front of us. I asked a series of quick questions, and caught up on what he’s been into. So I suppose here’s where the dirt is dished, where I tell you all I know about the future plans of The Tossers.

Well their touring for most the rest of this fall with the Siderunners, which includes an early member of The Tossers, a great treat the band is one hell of a live act. It also seems there’s a good bond between the bands, which will make the days fly by. If you check the website you will notice that the end of the tour is back home for the band in Chicago, and there is a good reason for that. The band will be backing the studio recording their second CD for Victory records. “This is gonna be the sickest darkest one yet” claims Tony after I accused Victory of softening their political and dark side in favor of fun drinking songs like those of other big bands. Tony defends Victory by saying, even though they’ve changed interns and staff on the band he claims, “ We’ll be with them as long as they’ll have us.” That’s comforting since I kind of like going into those big chain music stores and seeing their CD on the shelf.

Before we got distracted by having to get on stage to do a limerick with The Gobshites we discussed his solo project, which he’s proud of but at the same time seems a little disappointed in. I asked him if he’d do another one which he seemed doubtful of, as he says it was done as a favor for Thick records which he feels he’s fulfilled his commitment to and left on good terms. Apparently it wasn’t a fun recording process and he wasn’t too comfortable discussing it in length.

So how was the show? It was great, lots of old stuff towards an audience that only knows the new stuff, you know how that goes. It was all capped off by my drunk brother going to take a piss off the Pike and taking a header down the embankment. Best quote of the evening goes to my brother Kevin, “The grass didn’t hold me up.” I still have the tufts of grass to prove it!

Grilled by – Therover413

The Tossers: Shamrocks, Brains and Guts

July 2001

“There weren’t any bands out there playing real music, emotional music that you could dance to, or laugh to or cry to…..” -Shane MacGowan

Lester Bangs once said rock-n-roll would die an empty death once it’s turned into a corporation fit for mass consumption. This it most certainly has. Examples abound, nowhere more sickeningly than in the “free thinking” world of punk rock: Has it lost its edge? Does its inability to seem exciting and fresh spell it’s own demise, even though it is more popular than ever? Do the hordes of Bad Religion and Blink 182 clones’ successes translate into punk’s ultimate meaninglessness? Mass produced bands and massed produced crap?
There is currently a movement within the punk rock genre that, to some critics and fans, is facing a similarly detached future. The fusion of Celtic folk with ’77 Style punk rock really isn’t a new concept. Shane MacGowan and Spider Stacy were toying with the idea as early as 1980. Nearly everyone has heard this experiment’s results: the almighty Pogues. One of the best bands of all-time, to be sure. Certainly, Stuart Adamson of the popular ’80’s band Big Country used Celtic sounds and attitudes to that group’s advantage. Adamson’s early punk band, the long defunct Skids, were a definite precursor to this genre. Listen to “Into the Valley” and tell me Stuart’s guitar doesn’t sound like bagpipes on purpose. Then there are the groups that just never made it big, like The Men They Couldn’t Hang. So, no, the genre isn’t new, but to a whole new generation, it seems relevant and exciting. My question is – is it? Or is it, too, being prepackaged and sold to a new generation for them to “fit for mass consumption” and, subsequently ruin, as Bangs theorized? Is this genre overstaurated?

It wouldn’t take long before one could list quite a few current punk/streetrock bands whose sounds are described as ‘having an Irish folk flavor” or sound “kinda Pogues-y.” Many have actually covered old Irish folk songs on vinyl. Actually, it is almost the norm nowadays. It’s almost refreshing to read a review where the reviewer doesn’t use the aforementioned terms to describe a new Oi! or streetrock album. Zines like Hit List and Flipside complain about the ‘overuse’ of Celtic sounds in much of today’s punk. Are they right? Is this genre becoming watered down and boring?

Lest you think me cynical, I do believe there are bands out there today and one local band in particular, that have proven to me that the genre is still relevant. For all the Irish folk/punk/Oi! bands that are becoming bigger and more popular, and for all the ones who form or incorporate Celtic sounds simply because it is the “in” thing to do, for all the ones whom some critics accuse of falling prey to the banshee that cries “sell-out,” hope awaits. It exists in the form of the bands who have been around, those who have paid their dues, those who have remained true and understand that there is more at stake than just money. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Chicago’s favorite sons, The Tossers.

Only the End of the Beginning
“And we just thought: Fuck it. What we’re doing is good, no matter how badly we’re doing it. It’s good because it’s based on good music.” -Shane MacGowan

I’m not saying I was there at The Tossers first show. I have, however, been following them since their first demo “Pint of No Return” and have been to countless shows over the years. I’ve seen them on their own in dinky, fucking dank bars and I’ve seen them open for legends like Stiff Little Fingers and the aforementioned Shane MacGowan. They have paid their dues, took their lumps and logged their miles without the level of success that some ‘newer’ bands have tasted – and still, here they are.

“Damn near ten years” Tony Duggins, singer and mandolin player, says, when I ask how long the Tossers have been at it. He says this with a look that seems to be a cross between pride, wistfullness and maybe a bit of weariness. Today, the Tossers line-up is as follows: T. Duggins handles the vocals, guitar and mandolin, his brother Aaron Duggins is on tin whistle, Dan Shaw is on bass, Clay Hansen is on banjo and Bones handles the skins.

Back in 1992, when the Tossers started, there weren’t as many bands doing the Celtic punk thing, as many are now. Tossers bassist Dan Shaw gives an appropriately MacGowan-esqe ‘vague’ description of the Tossers humble beginnings: “Everybody but Clay grew up together. It just happened, I don’t really remember much of the details but I guess it was mostly luck.” Luck, guts and a bastard talent. The early gigs were described as “Pretty much the same as now – consuming intense amounts of alcohol, playing all night and not getting paid”. Eventually, the band began to get its name out. Clay Hansen joined in 1997 after the violinist (Jason Lovell) quit and as Shaw recalls, Hansen ” had never played a banjo before but didn’t tell us that. We gave him a copy of the disk and he borrowed a banjo and 2 weeks later he showed up at his first show. That was almost 5 years ago.”

The Tossers crew hails from Chicago. Chicago, as those from there know, wears its Irish history like a badge of honor. While their loyalty to the town is undying (“Chicago is the best fuckin’ rock-n-roll town in the states” Clay said) I wondered how they got their start with punky Irish folk. When asked if it was the South Side influence or the passing down from family member to family member that made the lads want to play the Irish stuff, Hansen replied. “Yes, it was handed down but I think we got sucked in cause the songs were mostly about drinkin’ and fuckin.’ We enjoy drinking and fuckin’ so it felt good to play those songs. We all came from different bands who were trying to be rock stars so we didn’t really feel the need to play anything anyone would like. We just got to play what we liked.” The Tossers also posses an unquestioned work ethic. “We played anywhere, anytime, for anybody, with anybody” is how Clay summed it up. How, then, do they feel about the rising popularity of the Irish punk/folk thing? About bands who are quite popular like the Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly? (Both of whom I am a great fan of) Tony said he loved both bands and Hansen replied “We don’t think about it. The Dropkicks rock and Flogging Molly are nice guys. We don’t give a fuck about fads. If we did we would have started a boyband.” Well said, mate.

Rebel Songs and Blow Jobs
“When I was really little, I was brought up by the people in Tipperary who knew millions of songs. It was real gut level stuff, music that’s been handed down from generation to generation” – Shane MacGowan

I was in Champaign, Illinois on June 12th at a local Irish bar called Mike and Mollys and caught up with the Tossers there. After the Tossers second of two sets ended, I stepped back and thought about what I had just seen and was, quite simply, amazed. And I began to think about the difference between the Tossers and other popular Celtic Punk/folk bands of the day and wondered why the hell I think the Tossers are so much better at what they do than most. The answer seemed to me to lie in what MacGowan termed the “gut level stuff.”

The Tossers two sets on a balmy 90 degree night included no less than TWENTY old Irish folkie standbys and as many of their own originals. The sets also included the American folk classic “The Long Black Veil” and the sea shanty “South Australia.” All of it immediate, ‘gut level stuff’, nothing forced or phony there. While certain bands may choose the most obvious of Irish songs to cover, Duggins and company dug deep. The standards were there, of course: “The Wild Rover”, “The Irish Rover” “I’ll Tell Me Ma” “Seven Drunken Nights” etc, etc, but also were the lesser known gems (at least among the Champaign crowd) like: “Monto” “Muirsheen Durkin’” “Home Boys Home” and “Poor Old Dicey Riley.” Hell, they took two requests from me: “The Fields of Athenry” (not really a request, per se as their own “A Night On Earth” segues into it anyway) and one of my personal favorites “Holy Ground.” (By the way, the Skels of New Jersey do a blistering version on CD, as well as a little bootleg with Pat Kennedy of the late Molly Maguires fame on piano) T. Duggins started and re-started “Holy Ground” until he had it how like he liked it and blazed through it. This, to me, is guts, ladies and gentlemen. Fucking do it until it’s done right. Take requests and if you fuck up, who cares? Give it another damn shot. Gustiest of all may well have been when T. Duggins sang alone, without any accompaniment from the band, and he did this several times that night. The last being “The Parting Glass.” Fucking brilliant. This is band that knows its material and respects it’s roots.

The band took requests all night and when I shouted, “play the Clash,” Aaron Duggins replied “The Clash were pussies” but then I heard the familiar strains of “London Calling” being played on mandolin. Tony Duggins strikes again- that cheeky bastard. Their own songs included the by now Tossers classics: “Buckets of Beer” “When You Get Here” “Aye Sir” and newer favorites like “The Crutch” with it’s “So Give Me Two Pints of Stout – Oi!” chanted chorus well intact and “Mad Riot” tearing things up as well. All in all, they must’ve played damn near 40 songs.

Afterwards, when I got a chance to talk to Tony, he was soft spoken and laid back (or was that drunk?) I told him I wished they had played a favorite of mine from the first CD “We’ll Never Be Sober Again” a slow-burning song called “Alone” where Duggins speaks of rebels wives who ‘wear black’ for their lost husbands. It’s a haunting piece, the mood very somber, and the lyrics of “Mrs. Ryan wears black, Mrs. O’Shea wears black, Mrs. Kelly wears black” drive the point home. “That’s a good rebel song, that one” Tony told me. Which brings me to a point. I remembered the Pogues and Shane in particular had gotten accosted several times for their ‘rebel leanings’ and Black 47 were dubbed the ‘musical wing of the IRA” by the British press. I wondered if the Tossers had ever encountered any physical violence from this or any other scenario. “Yes,” Clay said. “I had a girl try to stab me in the eye with her keys once while her boyfriend tried to steal my amp. Actually, there have been a lot of times we have gotten into scuffles but we are pretty non-violent so we usually talk our way out of fightin.’ Sometimes it can’t be helped. We used to fight a lot more when we were younger and found out it wasn’t that much fun getting the shit kicked out of you.” Hansen also revealed a bit more about these confrontations. “Most fights start over one of us fucking some dudes girlfriend or wife. I had a girl in a club suck my cock in the balcony while her husband was down stairs one night. He came looking for her wondering why she was gone so long and he didn’t get the joke. All the boys were downstairs boozin’ and didn’t know I was getting an ass-kickin.’” Are you sure these guys aren’t rock stars? That sounds pretty Keith Richard-esqe to me. Should they be re-christened Motley Tossers?

All in all, it was a great show and the Tossers were a great bunch of guys. As they were loading up, they were wondering if they indeed had a show in the next town they were scheduled in. Who knows, but they were going to get drunk anyway. Road warriors, each and every one of them. And a damn fine band. A damn REAL band who know their roots and play for the sake of playing.

Buy A Tossers CD
So it goes – The Tossers were one of the first in the current ‘revival,’ as well as being one of the best and, if there’s any justice, will reap the rewards in the near future. It’s funny, having talked with T. Duggins, it is apparent that he is down to earth and is in no way buying into the hype-ridden world of punk rock. And sometimes this isn’t any easy thing to do. Sometimes even bands with the best intentions and truest to their roots, become bigger, and can fall prey to mid-level success. There are always those among the punk rock locals who sanctimoniously kiss ass and get backstage and ‘party’ with the bands, due to the free tattoos they give, the beer they supply or something of that nature. Sometimes some of the real fans seem to get overlooked. Sometimes, with new popularity, and new fans, the new crowd take the band over as their own. Not so with the Tossers. I had never talked with Tony before, but once I told him my purpose, to get an interview/article for a zine promoting the Irish Punk/Folk scene, he didn’t think about it for a second. “Sure, definitely”, he said. And I could tell it wouldn’t be uncomfortable and he was actually going to listen to my questions, rather than cut me off to tell someone to “go get him a t-shirt” so he could give it to some skirt in the crowd. Nah, he was content to discuss issues, his music and music in general. Hmmmm…. Maybe there’s hope for this genre after all……Tony Duggins and the Tossers are for real, folks…

The Tossers have two full-length CD’s available: “We’ll Never Be Sober Again” and “Long Dim Road”. A complete discography can be found at Thickrecords.com. Purchases can be made there as well. Future releases include an upcoming 6 song EP with 2 originals, 2 traditional and 2 covers: Jerry Lee Lewis “Rockin’ My Life Away” and Bob Dylan’s “7 Curses.”

Clay said it turned out good. Then again, he’s the bastard that got the blowjob in the balcony. Rock star, indeed.
http://www.thickrecords.com/bands/tossers.html

By Sean Holland

The Tossers – the Hi-Dive, Champaign, IL (2002)

“I can’t tell your songs from the traditionals, and that’s the highest compliment I can give.” So said my buddy Andy, a native of England/Scotland to Tony Duggins, lead singer of the Tossers. You could tell Tony was suitably impressed, as that is, I’m assuming, one of the Tossers goals – to be talked about in the same breath as the legends, and when it’s all said and done – Tony can tell tales in dark, dank bars – tales that go ‘hey, we wuz there, too, on the front line. And we made an impact…And we were good. Good enough for some drunken ex-pat one night, at the very least.’ It was good to see hometown boys The Tossers back in Champaign.
I don’t even know if there was an opening band. Could care less. I got there right as Tony and co. took the stage. Here I must add that since the last time I’ve seen the fellas, they’ve added a fiddler player, who is not only shit-hot on the fiddle, but just plain shit-hot. Great pick up, boys. Speaking of the band, they were as tight as ever on this night, too bad the crowd couldn’t keep up.

Yeah, the crowd was a bit mellow tonight, and even Tony’s drunken taunting didn’t get a lot of them moving. It could’ve been because it was an ‘early’ show and there was a fruity-ass rave DJ coming on after them, or it could’ve been the lack of drunken hooligans in the house, but it wasn’t as crazy as it could’ve been.

To be honest, the show was awhile back, I was drunk and the set-list in it’s entirety has escaped me – but I do know that the Tossers usual repertoire of Poguesy originals were in the house – “Buckets of Beer” “When You Get Here” “The Crutch” and “Mad Riot.” All sounded as good as ever, some even resulting in beer showers, and the usual covers were in effect as well with “The Irish Rover” among others.

In the end, the Tossers were cut short by some pud that was worried that the DJ was getting restless. And so ended a night when the Tossers were, as usual, up for it, but the crowd and the ambience of the evening just couldn’t keep up – like a college boy drinking with Shane.

After the set, we knocked back a few with the band, but as it was an early show’s end, they decided to head north for Chi-town. The mood was suitably high, thanks to the band, so we finished drinking and headed to the local Irish watering hole, Mike and Molly’s, and commented that hopefully next time the crowd is as up for it as the Tossers always are. No excuses next time, Champaign.

Review by Sean Holland

The Tossers: Smash The Windows

February 17, 2017

I’d been struggling to say something original about Smash the Windows, the new, just about to be released Tossers album. Having reviewed multiple releases by the Tossers over the last 16+ years and loving every single one,  it’s hard to be original with a review – of course the album is really first class Tossers but that’s a given. Then on the umpteen play of the bands interpretation of  the ballad The Foggy Dew, something struck me and it was Tony Duggan’s Luke Kelly style perfect diction as he sang t – The Tossers are the true inheritors** of The Dubliners throne – they are the tradition, they live the life and are 110% authentic, no fake Irish here. The Tossers are not merely punks playing Irish ballads but like The Pogues and The Dubliners they are the living, breathing real deal and Smash the Windows proves it.

**or at least their bastard American offspring

The Tossers: The Emerald City

April 13, 2013

The Emerald City if you are confused is not the residence of the Wizzard of Ozz but Chicago where they infamously dye the Chicago River green on St. Patrick’s Day though given the infamy of C-town politics you’d be forgive if you are still truly confused.
The Emerald City is the first album from America’s original Celtic-punk band in five years and I’m pleased to report The Tossers have stuck to what they do best – no attempt at cross-over stadium rock success or progress for the sake of coolness – just straight ahead Celt-punk dealing with love, booze, Irish-Chicago and more booze, and while there is nothing immediate about any of the tracks on the album as with previous Tossers releases with a just a little bit of work The Emerald City will grow on you like a bad skin rash.

In many ways The Tossers are the true successors to the traditions of The Dubliners and The Pogues and The Emerald City continues that tradition.

The Tossers: Gloating and Showboatin’ (Live on St. Patrick’s Day)

Live on St. Patrick’s Day indeed!!! Haven’t both the Dropkick Murphy’s and Shane MacGowan previously released Live on St. Patrick’s Day concerts? Basically, here we have a CD/DVD package of The Tossers live in their home town of Chicago on the big day in 2006. Live and in the raw is the best way to experience the Tossers and both the disk and DVD do a great job. In fact all that’s missing from experiencing the real live Tossers show is getting an elbow in the face and some clown pukeing on your shoes. Also, its nice to finally have a version of “Seven Drunken Nights” with Clay on vocals. The CD and DVD are both from the same set but there is also a whole bunch of additional live/bootleg/videos on the DVD. A great double disk and great value.

(PS I very almost slammed this release ‘cos I was pissed the Victory can’t seem to think to send Shite’n’Onions a review copy – then again I should be thankful I ain’t on their promo list ‘cos I can’t stand anything else on the Victory label.)

2008