Wow, what a busy and hectic last month! (Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the details.) As some of you who have been following my erratic postings know, last month I made a road trip from St. Louis, MO to Columbus, OH to go the Shamrock N Roll Fest. It was a trip that involved about 15 hours of total driving, 7 hours of great music, an hour picking up some Great Lakes beer (sadly, not sold in Missouri) and about 3 hours sleeping in a rest area.
The trip was a solo experience as I was unable to find a companion that could go with me. My day started with taking my daughter and her friend to school – which involved me leaving an hour later than I had wanted to, but I thought it would be ok; I just would not have much wiggle room (and that was before I realized I was going to lose an hour for time zone differences!) For the most part, the trip was pretty uneventful. It gave me time to listen to the new Bloody Irish Boys who I had learned the day before were going to be playing. That meant I would be able to scratch off two bands from my “I would love to see them play live, but I most likely won’t” list.
After dealing with construction through most of Illinois and parts of Indiana, I arrived into Columbus about 2:30, with the gates opening at 4:30. So thanks to the wonderful invention of gps and smartphones, I was able to make a trip to Whole Foods (my wife works at the one near our house and they have a great employee discount) to pick up some Great Lakes beer. I picked up some Dortmunder for the wife and the Octoberfest to try something new (their Christmas Ale is out of this world, by the way!) As I went to check out, I learned that the state of Ohio does not allow employee discounts on booze. Had I known that, I probably could have saved myself some time.
From Whole Foods, I then hauled tail to Lifestyles Community Pavillion, parked and headed to the gate where I was about 10th in line. 30 minutes later we were inside and I got a look at where I would be spending the next 7 hours. The venue has no seats, just an open-pit in front of the stage and lawn seating. They had set up a second stage for the evening so they could get the seven acts in with minimal downtime between if you did not mind shuffling between the two (yeah, guess who didn’t mind?!).
Right near the entrance they had the merchandise tents which I quickly dropped some hard-earned cash. Being the efficient man (read: lazy bastard) I am, I went straight down the line. I picked up some Street Dogs stickers for the back of the PaddyWagon (which had been looking a bit bare), then onto the Dropkick Murphys tent to get a Shamrock N Roll Festival t-shirt. I was sad to learn they had no stickers since I had lost the one I got when they played in St. Lou back in March. Undeterred, I moved next in line for the Bloody Irish Boys where I picked up 2 square stickers, and, after I told Shayne Underwood that I was going to be put them on my car, he let me have an actual bumper sticker for free! Thank you again, Shayne!
Next to them was The Mahones. I already knew I was getting one of their t-shirts. Their tent had shirts and CD’s, but no stickers – it looked the PaddyWagon was going to remain bare! By this time I had dropped $43 bucks and I had the choice of eating some dinner or picking up a Bloody Irish Boys t-shirt. Man does not live on food alone. Plus it would be a great exercise in mind over body.
By the time I had finished my shopping and figuring out how to haul all my swag (glad I wore cargo pants, that’s for sure), The Bloody Irish Boys were up on their stage getting themselves situated. At that point, due to some issues with sound, they did not play long. Meanwhile, The Mahones were set up and the first of many shuffles began.
At this point the venue was not very packed, so I was able to get a great spot in the pit while staying away from those wanting to mosh. From the first notes, my smile must have been huge – the energy from The Mahones was awesome! This is a band that is great recorded but AWESOME live! Their set blew me away and I was drunk on the vibrations and sounds assaulting me.
Their set list for the evening was:
- Drunken Night In Dublin
- Paint The Town Red
- A Great Night On The Lash
- County Down Whistle Solo
- Wild Rover
- A Pain From Yesterday
- One Last Shot
- Is This Bar Open ‘Til Tomorrow
- Drunken Lazy Bastard/Teenage Kicks
Once The Mahones were done, I headed back over to the side stage where The Bloody Irish Boys had apparently fixed the sound problem and were setting up again. Still on my high from The Mahones, I was even further elevated for the evening. At this point, I could have left and gone home and the trip would have been worth every minute and dime! The Bloody Irish Boys are a band that reminds me why I am enjoying the indies and regional bands – while maybe a bit raw and not polished and flashy, their music is attainable and is performed for themselves and their audience, not for the almighty buck (though I am quite sure they appreciate every buck they get!). Thank you Shayne and company for a great night.
Next up for the evening was the Street Dogs. By this time, the venue was starting to get fuller as more people started to flow in, but still not too bad for someone who gets claustrophobic in the press of mass humanity. The Street Dogs played with great energy but with a heavy political message and pro-union sentiment. Now before any unionists start to get up in arms and calling for a picket of me, in fair disclosure, I am a member of the CWA and have been for the last 8 years. I believe that the time for unions is past – they did serve a wonderful purpose but now they primarily serve to protect the incompetent, lazy and frauds. I have seen too many abuses of the negotiated benefits that make it difficult for aperson who has real need and they have to jump through hoops to get those benefits. OK, enough of my soapbox, back to the replay. At this point in the evening, my experience plateaued – while still enjoyable, it was not anywhere near the first two acts.
After the Street Dogs came the Parkington Sisters. I am at a loss who to describe their style except to say find some songs and give them a listen. The instruments are all acoustic, but the way the sounds blend is something indeed and they display a vicious sense of humor with each other that’s unique to siblings. They also had a helping hand in their songs from Ken Casey and Chuck Ragan.
From here on out the night begins to blur for me as it became more and more crowded. By the time Stiff Little Fingers was on the main stage, I could no longer get into the pit and other than the diehards, most people had stopped shuffling between stages. People were camping out in the pit waiting for the Murphys and for Chuck Ragan on the side stage. Even though we were outside, the mass of humanity was starting to feel stifling to me. I did manage to bear it to hear Chuck Ragan. The growling vocals and rockabilly influence reminded me a lot of Cuthroat Shamrock.
Finally it was time for Dropkick Murphys to start. By now, I had moved up to the top of the lawn seat area so my vantage point was not that great, but since I saw them live 6 months ago with a great view, I did not mind. Once again, for those that have seen them, the Murphys put on a great show with lots of production and lighting. It makes me wish I could have seen them years ago before they had a budget for big shows and been able to see them raw.
Overall, it was a great night and I loved how members of other bands would hop in and out. Shayne Underwood singing with The Mahones, Ken Casey and Chuck Ragan with the Parkington Sisters, The Parkington sisters playing accordion for the Murphys and Nora Parkington singing the female lead of The Dirty Glass -it felt like everyone on the road was truly enjoying their time with the other bands.
All in all, I would say it was well worth the almost 26 hours on the go, the carb loading and caffeine highs and lows and I wish you were there with me. Below are some pictures I tried taking from my phone, I hope you enjoy!
p.s. I will try to work better on future posts – I have some albums to review, one of which will be the new Rusty Nail CD I will hopefully be able to pick up tomorrow.