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Dave Roepke, Published February 26 2009

St. Patty’s Day punks

Murphys bring holiday to Fargo early

St. Patrick’s Day starts earlier for Dropkick Murphys than the rest of us – lots earlier.

The Boston-based band – which, like The Pogues before it, uses traditional Irish songs and instrumentation in nontraditional ways, fashioning the brash clobbering racket of classic punk – has already been on its St. Patrick’s Day tour for nearly a week, and February’s not even over yet.

“Yeah, this is our working season right now,” lead singer Al Barr said in an interview last week.

Tonight’s stop in Fargo lands on the early side of a stint of shows that ends with seven consecutive nights of concerts in Boston, culminating on the high holiday of green-clad pint-hoisters – March 17.

“There’s not a lot of debate,” Barr says of the Murphys’ St. Patty’s Day plans. Nine years straight it’s been a big Boston blowout. “We all kind of lose our minds in that time, but somehow we always get through it. I’m not going to lie and say we know how we’re going to get through it this year because I don’t think any of us do.”

Before Barr goes batty, he was kind enough to answer four burning questions about the Murphys.

1. So what it is about punk and Irish music?

It’s not just DKM and The Pogues. The list of bands who’ve married Celtic folk tunes with the passion of punk is long. This makes sense to Barr.

“I’ve always said that folk music was kind of the first punk music – music by the people for the people for the causes of the people. Punk and folk have more in common than they don’t,” he says. “The values and mindset behind both are definitely related.”

2. But it all goes back to The Pogues, right?

Yes it does, says Barr, whose band has often collaborated with members of the seminal Irish rock act. That’s a touch of deference he’d like to see more often.

“To be honest, I don’t think enough of the third-generation Irish-ilk bands such as ourselves – I’m not going to start naming names – but I don’t think enough of them tip their hats to bands like The Pogues,” he says. “I grew up in the punk rock scene. You always paid your respects to the forefathers of that music.

Why? Because if you don’t, no one else will. “It’s like Indian stories. You’ve got to keep telling them to keep them alive,” he says.

3. Your music is obviously conducive to drinking. What must a crowd do to qualify as a rowdy one?

Like many a punk band, Barr professes an intense appreciation of the fans. The Murphys typically end concerts with a stage invasion, inviting all comers up to the stage. So the bar is high for audiences looking to make an impression.

Asked what it takes to qualify as unruly at a Dropkick show, here’s what Barr says: “There are members of the band who have been unwillingly kissed in Europe by big hulking men.” So the bar is not only high, but hulking, European and male.

4. Is the Boston Red Sox’s run of titles all thanks to your band?

In 2004, when the Red Sox were chasing their first World Series crowd since 1918, a few players got the band to rework an old song with a rich history with the team called “Tessie.” And then ...

“They had us play at Fenway and the day we played, they won. It was one of those things where there was a lot of legend and folklore behind the song. Boston fans are really into that thing. It just kind of went from there,” Barr says.

So are you claiming causation or not? “Whether you want to buy into the folklore is up to you,” he says. “But we do.”

If you go


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535