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Dropkick Murphys remain Boston's most treasured punk success

The tightest ship in the business
By BARRY THOMPSON  |  February 23, 2011

 Dropkick Murphys
KENMORE SCARE “I always say our association as being this ‘Boston’ band stems back from the days at the Rat,” explains Ken Casey (top left). “We’d do all-ages matinees and draw 600 or 700 kids, just because the punk scene was so strong.” 
Dropkick Murphys are the best tourist trap in this city. Maybe in any city. Maybe in the world.

Thanks to big honkin' crossover hits "Tessie" and "I'm Shipping Up to Boston," fans of Major League Baseball and/or Martin Scorsese will forever associate the modern-day monarchs of Celtic punk with the miraculous 2004 Red Sox and the nefarious shenanigans of The Departed's Frank "Whitey" Costello. Consequently, people who've never been here sometimes assume that Boston as a whole resembles Southie as depicted in Dropkick songs — which isn't even the whole story for Southie. Worse, they're not all opposed to writing the Dropkicks and their fans off as sadistic baseball hooligans with crappy shamrock tattoos who hate pronouncing the letter "r." Even if the Dropkicks themselves helped propagate the caricature by liking local sports and Irish music, it's a stupendously reductionist perception. The Dropkicks paid about a decade's worth of dues in the punk-rock salt mines before hitting it big, but despite (or because of) their high profile, their influence isn't always acknowledged. How many kids in lesser-known Irish folk/punk combo bands get all puffy and punker-than-thou when they tell people they were listening to the Pogues and the Dubliners before they'd ever heard of the Dropkicks? A lot. Most of them are lying.

These outcomes would've been impossible to plan even if Ken Casey and his drinking buddies did harbor grandiose ambitions back when they were fucking around with songs that started to sound like "Clancy Brothers meets the Ramones" (as Casey puts it) in a barber-shop basement. And what else has Boston got for out-of-towners to get psyched about (assuming they don't like sports)? A bar where a bunch of shit from an old sit-com didn't really happen? Duck Tours? An American Idol judge's vanity side project? Hogwash. Nothing there approaches the raw awesomeness on display at the Dropkicks' annual string of shows throughout St. Patrick's Day week.

Next month, three dates at the House of Blues, one at Tsongas Arena in Lowell, and a Claddagh Fund benefit at the Paradise Rock Club will serve as de facto, slightly belated release shows for Going Out in Style (Born & Bred), the septet's first fresh studio record in four years. It drops March 1.

"I always say our association as being this 'Boston' band stems back from the days at the Rat," says singer/bassist Casey, referring to the long-gone Kenmore Square epicenter of Boston punk's mid-to-late-'90s renaissance. At classed-up Boylston Street sports bar McGreevy's, he's flanked by frontman Al Barr, and he tells whoever to turn down the jukebox when it gets loud enough to interfere with our interview. The employees here have a financial incentive to keep Casey happy. He owns the joint.

"We'd do all-ages matinees and draw 600 or 700 kids, just because the punk scene was so strong," he continues. "We'd have seven other bands from seven different cities, and they'd go back to their respective cities going, 'Holy shit! We just played to 600 or 700 kids and got paid a bunch of money!'

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Related: Slideshow: Dropkick Murphys at House of Blues, Interview: Ken Casey of Dropkick Murphys, Ten years of great sports, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Boston, Dropkick Murphys, Bruce Springsteen,  More more >
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