The Pubcrawlers

MaineList Article: The Pubcrawlers

The Pubcrawlers

Photo (above) by Seth, digital manipulation by Andy

This One Goes To Eleven!What kind of band has eight members covering instruments such as the bag-pipes, accordian, fiddle, tin whistle, mandolin, guitar, harmonica, bass and drums? Well, The Pubcrawlers from Portland, Maine, of coarse!

The Pubcrawlers have been lining up local musicians to cover these and other instrumental parts to build their traditional Celtic/Irish sound for the past six years. This New England Celtic / Punk band has tried several different line-ups, from as little as four members early on when the band was still new, to as many as eleven members in the band at once in more recent years.

“This one goes to eleven!”

Keeping Traditions “We’re pretty much happy right now with the current line-up.” Explained Andy, the band’s drummer, who I spoke with for a good part of the band’s interview. With eight members in the band, it would have been very difficult to sit and talk with the entire group at once.

Andy has been with the band since day one, and has sort of taken charge of organizing and selecting musicians to fill the various positions.

“The nature of what we do is try to use traditional instruments, so it’s not unusual to have six or eight members in a band like this at once. It seems to be a pretty good number right now with eight.” Remarked Andy.

One of the first things I noticed as the band came on stage were the bag-pipes. As a rock music enthusiast, I must admit, I don’t see many bag-pipe players outside of Jonathan Davis from Korn. It’s an eye-catching thing if you’re not accustomed to it. But equally alluring were some of the other instruments, such as the accordion and fiddle. It was interesting indeed to look up and see this colorful blend of musicians gathered together to deliver both an audio and visual performance for those who were there.

InfluencesI asked Andy what chain of events could have led to the decision to form a Celtic / Punk band?

”I was brought up on “Clancy Brothers”, “Dubliners”, “Tommy Makem”, and “The Pogues”. You know, traditional Irish bands.”

Well actually, I didn’t know. In fact, I had never heard of any of those bands. When I went around the room asking the audience what they thought, many people brought up different names to compare them to.

Seth and Sasha Doughty from Brunswick said “They are the next step down from the Dropkick Murphys, yet still 100% awesome!”

I spoke with other people stating that they were even better than that! The general mood of the crowd was elevated, and it was clear that the patrons of Club Texas in Auburn were excited to see something new and different in their hometown.

Billy McDaniel and Sara MontegutSara Montegut, who hosts her own show on WMPG radio in Portland, was attending the event with big smiles and opened ears. She remarked that she liked both bands, saying that The Outsiders were impressive, especially considering they had a stand-in bassist (D.Murder on Upright Bass who ordinarily plays bass for “The Murder Weapon” filled in for The Outsiders at Club Texas during that event.)

“I really enjoy these guys too.” Sara said, referring to The Pubcrawlers who were performing while we be-bopped and chatted throughout the rest of the event. “The violin chic is the coolest.”

Doing sound for the bands that night were Ken Jellison from Sparky’s Sound. I spoke with Ken too, getting a little feedback from someone who is more familiar with the bands who frequent Club Texas.

“You ain’t Irish if you can’t drink!” Ken shouted over the music, with wide eyes and excited expressions. I could tell he was really getting into the show. “The guys are probably the funnest band the club has ever had. Well, at least since I’ve been working here.” Ken has been with Club Texas for about a year.

“I like these guy so much, I decided to buy one of their T-Shirts!” Which Ken proudly exhibited. It was awesome to see this kind of support coming from a sound guy. I mean, these sound engineers get to see all kinds of bands, so it’s interesting to see such a reaction from someone who is subjected to a wide spectrum of musical styles.

Then there was Wendy and Mike from Turner, Maine. “The band announced that we were getting married once. We just love The Pubcrawlers, they are awesome!” The couple has been following the band for about two years, and have maintained friendly relations with various band members at shows.

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Collaborating with The OutsidersThere were two bands on stage that night, and I’m sure that the opening band; “The Outsiders” played a pretty good role in the outcome of the crowd’s overall excited energy too. The Outsiders is a Psychobilly band also from Maine. For those unfamiliar with the genre, it’s a cross between Rock-a-billy and Punk. Or as The Outsiders subtitles themselves “Punk-a-Billy Rebels”.

Both bands put on a fantastic show. But this wasn’t their first time sharing the stage either. In fact, The Pubcrawlers and The Outsiders have been entertaining the idea of combining forces to record a full length CD together. The CD will feature six or seven original songs from each band, and one or two songs where both bands combine together.

“One song that we’ll do together will almost certainly be, “I Saw The Light”, a Hank Williams cover song.” Says Andy.

This could be a good marketing strategy combining two different styles of music into one collaborated effort. It seems to work well in a live situation, so it’ll be interesting to see where the CD goes.

Speaking of CDs, I asked the band how many CDs they have recorded to date.

One Too Many Again - The Pubcrawlers 2008”We have a couple of old demos still floating around that we would love to forget about.”

Perhaps the quality of the recording or the outcome of the performance wasn’t up to par. I didn’t really inquire as to why Andy would prefer to forget about them, but he did admit that they were not complimentary to the band’s current abilities.

The Pubcrawlers now has two official full length CDs recorded, and available for purchase either online or through the local dealers. Check out “Another Night On The Floor” recorded in 2005, and a more recent album entitled; “One Too Many Again” which was recorded in 2008. Sales have been very good, the band has been doing their best to cover both local and online bases, generating interests for CD sales all over the World, and continuing to gig throughout New England.

“We actually had one gig in England!” Exclaimed Andy, excited to have had an experience that has carried the band overseas. Although the gig was not really about the money, it was a sensational experience for each of the members who participated. The gig was for the “Wasted Festival”, a three or four day event which was filled with many legendary punk bands. “We were grateful to have been asked to come, and consider it an awesome experience.” Despite the hard work and costs of making it happen, Andy admitted that it was worth the time and energy.

Brian (Vocals)The Pubcrawlers have maintained an annual event at “The Shamrock Fest” in Washington D.C where some 65,000 people attend right outside RFK Stadium.

“We opened for “Great Big Sea” while I was in the band, and “Dropkick Murphys” before I joined, just a year before. Said Brian, the band’s front-man vocalist, whom has been with the band for the past couple of years. Brian saw the Dropkick Murphys about seven years ago, but might not have imagined himself in a similar band at that time. “I was more involved with punk music back then.” Brian examined.

The band continues booking gigs throughout New England. After having The Pubcrawlers headline the gig at Club Texas, I followed up and met with them again a couple of weeks later at a gig they held in Salisbury, Massachusetts in a place called; “Uncle Eddie’s”. The place was pretty cool. It reminded me of Old Orchard Beach during the off season, with the sandy ocean shore just across the street. The people of Salisbury were delightful and seemed enchanted by the music as much as I had witnessed in Auburn just a couple of weeks before.

Emily (Fiddle)“We cover a few traditional Irish songs like “Danny Boy”, “Home Boy’s Home”, “Dicey Riley” and “The Wreck of The Old ‘97” to name a few.” Says Brian. “Plus you can hear us doing covers of some songs by other bands too, such as “I Saw The Light” by Hank Williams, or “The Last Saskatchewan Pirate” by Arrogant Worms.”

“You know, sometimes people who buy our disks will come up to us and tell us stories about how their children, often young kids, will ask their parents to throw in the CD, demanding to hear the Pubcrawlers. Our music isn’t just for the bar scene.” Which may explain some of the success the band has had with online CD sales. This music feels good, and shakes up the crowd with positive, feel-good energy. It encourages adult pub goers to drink, dance and celebrate, while enticing even young children to spring around in their own festive spirits as well.

The band is really about nothing but good times and friendship. “We bring a great energy. Very few people would go to our show and end up bored.” Says Brian.

The band originally formed when Andy put up a post on some online message board asking who would be interested in trying to piece this thing together. The post apparently brought a couple of interested people, including two original members who are no longer with the band, but who’s names could be remembered through this article. Hats off to Ken (original vocals, mandolin and guitarist) and Jon (original bass player for the band) for opting to try something different.

Raise Yer Mugs!I, myself, first heard of the band through a friend named Chad who played guitar for The Pubcrawlers at that time. Chad learned that I also played the guitar, and I think we exchanged a few riffs during a couple of Dungeons and Dragons gaming sessions where I had met him. I remember Chad explaining The Pubcrawlers to me, and my interests level was up there, but I never actually made it out to see him perform with the band.

Instead, several years later, and long after Chad had left the band, I found The Pubcrawlers online and invited them to put on a show for a MaineList feature event. I had evaluated some of their music online through myspace, but didn’t really “get it”, until I saw them on stage for the first time.

This is something you have to experience LIVE! The heart of this music is bottled up in a pint that can only be consumed while standing in front of the band with arms raised to cheer with feet clacking heavily on the dance floor.


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