Shamrocked, Part 2 – Inside the Shamrock-N-Roll Festival

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…

http://mccruitin.blogspot.com/2011/09/cool-story-brah.html?spref=fb

 

John Curtin

 

One thought on “Shamrocked, Part 2 – Inside the Shamrock-N-Roll Festival

  1. Not the best spelling job I’ve ever done (with the exception of Justine Beiber, that was intentional), but que sera era. Just to clarify a few things in case you were wondering: I’m certainly not downplaying our set that day. I wasn’t particularly happy with MY playing, but I have no criticism of my bandmates whatsoever. Also, I didn’t ectually watch most of Chuck Ragan’s set, but I was on the grounds for it and herd the whole thing. He really was great. Also, Finn is my cat. And I apologize to the two other acts on the undercard, as I didn’t get their names. But they did as fine a job as everyone else.

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