IF YOU GO
What: Dropkick Murphys featuring The Mahones and Old Man Markley
When: 8 p.m. Monday, June 3
Where: Track 29, 1400 Market St.
Admission: $29 in advance, $33 at the door
• 1998-99: "Do or Die,"
"The Gang's All Here"
• 2000-05: "Mob Mentality,"
"Sing Loud, Sing Proud,"
"Live on St. Patrick's Day From Boston, MA," "Blackout," "The Warrior's Code"
• 2007-13: "The Meanest of Times," "Live on Lansdowne, Boston MA," "Going Out in Style," "Live at Fenway," "Signed and Sealed in Blood"
After almost 20 years as one of the country's pre-eminent Celtic punk rockers, Dropkick Murphys are still surprisingly unaffected by their fame.
Founded in the basement of a friend's barbershop just outside of Boston in 1996, the Murphys have been on a consistent upswing for 17 years, graduating from playing shows in Beantown dives to headlining major European and American festivals.
Even with high-profile appearance and a lineup that has grown from a quartet to a septet, the success hasn't gone to their heads, says drummer Matt Kelly, who joined the band about a year after it was founded by vocalist Mike McColgan, bassist Ken Casey, guitarist Rick Barton and original drummer Jeff Erna.
"We're pretty much a bunch of regular dudes who love to play music and come from a particular background," he says, laughing.
Dropkick's most recognizable song is "I'm Shipping Up to Boston," a hard-driving number featuring lyrics drawn from an unpublished Woody Guthrie composition. It was featured on Martin Scorsese's Academy Award-winning Boston police drama "The Departed." Despite never breaking into the Billboard Top 100, it has been downloaded more than a million times on iTunes and has been listened to more than 6 million times on music streaming service Spotify.
Like their hometown, the musicians of Dropkick Murphys draw influence from artists on both sides of the Atlantic, including Beantown hardcore acts such as Jerry's Kids and Gang Green as well as European folk artists such as The Dubliners and The Wolfe Tones.
The result is a blend that is comfortably aggressive with driving rhythms, incendiary guitars and fierce, rasping vocals but augmented by a distinctly Celtic flair via wailing uilleann pipes, the rapid-fire staccato of a tenor banjo and the occasional slower ballad.
With their Irish roots and a catalog of aggressive material about blue-collar living and -- yes -- drinking, Dropkick has magnetically attracted stereotypes its members can only shake their heads at.
"The band was never about being some crazy kind of 'whiskey-swilling, Guinness-soaked' cliché," Kelly says. "It's funny seeing what people's expectations are of the band and what they then project onto the band."
Dropkick is touring in support of its eighth studio album, "Signed and Sealed in Blood," released on Jan. 8. Although the musicians won't pull strictly from this latest release during their show at Track 29 on Monday, June 3, Kelly says the latest album shares much in common with their 1998 debut, "Do or Die."
"[As with 'Do or Die,'] we were just banging out some songs," he says. "We laid the tracks down and sat back and were like, 'All right, we got something special here. This sounds awesome.'
"We're very proud of this album. I'm not sure if it was a perfect storm or what, but it just came together for us."
Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at email@example.com or 423-757-6205.
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...
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