Christmas in July

Since last Friday, I have been like a kid waiting for Christmas!  The Dropkick Murphys announced their Shamrock Roll ‘N Roll Fest in which The Mahones and Street Dogs are going to be playing.  Ever since I heard The Mahones were going to be playing in the States, I have been anxious to find out when and where.  So when DKM posted the news of The Mahones playing with them, I got excited and quickly told my wonderful wife (who is my enabler with my musical addiction), and when I told her the closest venue was in Columbus, OH (416 miles away) she did not shoot me down.

The concert is going to be on a Tuesday, so the first thing I had to do in order to make this dream a reality was to find out if vacation time is open for me to take at work for Tuesday and Wednesday.  I sent a message to a co-worker asking if I could have the time, and during the hours waiting to hear back managed my giddy nervous anticipation by trying to think about what the wife can do with our kids and our dog while being gone for 2 days.  The moment I got the news that vacation was available, I went into my work to request those 2 days off, lest they got stolen from me!

So as it stands, I have my days off, I bought my tickets on Saturday and now I have to be patient and wait.  This concert will be several firsts for me, it will be the first time for me to see The Mahones and Street Dogs, in addition this will be my first road trip JUST to see a concert.

In other news, Friday night I also saw The Irish Xiles, a St Louis Irish Rock band at Nick’s Pub.  Other than there having been a fair number of bar patrons being loud and not paying attention to the band, the night was enjoyable.  The Irish Xiles are a 3 piece band that utilizes a keyboard to synthesis the wind instruments, the lead singer was the guitar player and a drummer.  The most amusing thing I found during the night was seeing the Bodhran being played with an empty Budweiser bottle.  The band is still rough around the edges and not quite as hard-driving as I generally like, but it was a fun evening.  Rusty Nail is still at the tops of my local Irish Rock bands.

Speaking of Rusty Nail, to further add to my September anticipation, their new CD will be coming out which I will be receiving as I helped in their Kickstarter campaign.  You can catch some of their songs on the Celtic Folk Punk Sampler, it is a free download, so enjoy and check them out along with the other great bands included.

Well enough blathering, back to watching the clock and waiting for September 13th to get here.  Slainte!


Back from Vacation

Hey all! This past week, I have been on a well-deserved and wonderful vacation.  We had a long weekend in San Diego enjoying the wonderful weather.  I was bummed that Lexington Field was not playing anywhere that weekend, but I did make it to one of their venues – The Dublin Quarter – for dinner with my wife, kids and mother in-law and father in-law.

The Dublin Quarter is a beautiful bar!  I loved the decor, and my daughter accused me of picking the place to eat based on the outfits worn by the waitstaff – tight black shirts and short plaid minikilts – When I told her that the real reason I wanted to go there was because the drink selection looked awesome and I was going to try to sample it all, she just rolled her eyes.

My Guinness was served as it should have been – it had been rested with a nice creamy head and the shamrock drawn in.  I was very glad that the Guinness was not tapped with CO2 – that is a major pet peeve at “Irish” Pubs when they cannot even serve it right.  When I see my Guinness still surging and tasting metallic I know it is time to run (after paying my tab of course!)

For dinner, my wife and daughter had the burgers, the youngest boy had chicken strips (as is his usual fare) my oldest boy had the grilled chicked club, the MIL had soup & salad the FIL had the Irish breakfast and I had the shepherd’s pie.

Overall the food was ok,  I would give it an average rating with the exception of the grilled chicken club – that was fantastic!  The in-laws were not too impressed with their food choices – the MIL did not like the jalepenos in her salad and the soup was too thick while I don’t think my FIL realized what he was getting with an Irish breakfast.

Overall, I would not go there for the food, but I definitely would for the drinks.  The whiskey choices were fantastic including potcheen which I have not found in the St Louis area in years; not since McNulty’s Pub closed.  Someday I hope to make back to San Diego and be able to catch Lexington Field play live.

This weekend should bring some more news.  Tomorrow, The Mahones will be announcing their USA tour which will hopefully include St Louis, although my lovely wife sounds up for a round trip if they come within 250 miles.  In addition, tomorrow I will be checking out a new band (new to me, anyway) called the Irish Xiles at Nick’s Pub in South City.


Review of Between The Wars – Carried Away

I want to send a big thank you to Jay Stevens of Between The Wars for sending me a copy of their CD Carried Away!  I would be in the poor house if I had to buy all that have found to be great music.  Streaming has been a great money saver, but doesn’t give me the freedom to listen to a whole CD from beginning to end.  I hope to repay his kindness by spreading the word about their fun and delightful music.

First, I want to give a caveat that I have no musical background, have a poor ear for pitch or tone – so if you are looking for a technical review, you won’t find it here!  But I can review it on the emotional level and to me, music is more about the emotion and power.  The stirring of the soul is much more important to me than the technical aspect.  If I wanted technical music with no soul, I would probably be listening to top 40 dredge instead of Celtic Rock and Punk.  The second caveat is that I have never a review before, so bear with me as I find the best way for me to express my thoughts.

The songs on the CD are:

  1. Neveready
  2. Superherosong
  3. You Were the One
  4. Ciaran
  5. Whiskey in the Jar
  6. Ride On
  7. Come Out Ye Black and Tans
  8. I Am Standing Up
  9. The Ballad of the First Fleet
  10. Revenge in E Major
  11. Never Gonna Change

As you can see, the CD has a mix of original and well-known cover songs.  I always find it interesting on how bands will work on spinning covers in a unique style, but where I find bands truly shine is in their original compositions.  I appreciate a band who can create something new that infuses the same classic-style soul and themes, with the timely influence of the world today.

From the gate, Between The Wars hits you with contagious rhythm, causing unconscious foot and hand tapping.  The songs are melodic, relying equally on the instruments and the vocals.

Some of the stand out songs to me are:

  • Ciaran – What stood out of me is the love of the father for the son, and the son of the father.  While I am not able to relate to the son’s perspective, I hope to be able to be that kind of father to my sons and to encourage them to find their path in the world and for them to know my pride for them.
  • Ride On – This song about longing and aching for something you cannot have has always been one of my favorites.  The heartache of the song is well-delivered, Between The Wars’ version gave me chills as listening to it (which was very welcome, as I listened to it in my non-air conditioned car in 100 degree heat!)

There are some songs I had greater hopes for that did not deliver for me.  I have yet to hear a version of Come Out Ye Black and Tans that is able to drive the balance of melody and hard-driving instruments that I think Celtic Rock and Punk could bring it.  I want to find a version that can take the hard-driving rock and still keep the vocals, so please let me know if you know of one.  The versions that rock the music tend to scream the vocals, removing some of the emotional impact of the song.  Other versions tend to be more traditional, just a little rocked up.  So far, my favorite version is still from the defunct Bleeding Irish.  The other cover that fell a bit short of  expectations was Whiskey in the Jar.  The song was good, but nothing for me that was mind-blowing.

Overall, I found the CD fun to listen to, with a good mix of light and deep songs that stirred my soul.  Listening to the CD made me wish I lived in Melbourne, or that Between The Wars makes it big enough to have an US tour so I can see them live and buy their swag to show that I am a fan of theirs.  As it is, I will settle for their CD and enjoy what I can.

I look forward to any feedback on my review in general, of specifically of Between The Wars CD.  I believe in free speech so feel free to disagree with me – I am just one Yank in the broad global Celtic Rock and Punk fandom.