EP REVIEW: IN FOR A PENNY- ‘Every Day Should be Saint Paddy’s Day’ (2016)

Rowdy Irish folk punk from Tybee Island, Georgia in the southeastern United States
everyday-cover
The first Irish may have rowed ashore in Savannah (Georgia’s largest city) way way back in 1734 but it has taken over 280 years for an Irish band to pop up. Fortunately the wait was worth it. There’s a rich and deeply held Irish-American heritage in the Savannah with the area holding one of the oldest, and second largest in the world!, St Patrick’s Day celebrations but until 2014 it was nigh on impossible to find some local rowdy live Irish music… that was until In For A Penny came around. 

savannah-irishThe original Irish that arrived in Georgia were descendants of the Calvinist Scots who had been planted in Ulster in the 1600’s. These Irish made their living trading, trapping and soldiering. They included Sergeant William Jasper who was mortally wounded leading the charge to retake Savannah from the British in 1779 but the main chapter in local Irish history began in the 1830’s like it did with so many other Irish towns across America. With the arrival of the railway the owners needed a plentiful supply of workers willing to do the back breaking hard labour required, and that is where the Irish came in. According to ‘Irish History in Savannah, Georgia’ here

“The story goes that Irish were employed on the railroad because, unlike slaves, their bodies had no commercial value and could be worked to exhaustion with impunity. A second wave of Irish immigration followed two decades later when the ‘potato famine’ in the old country forced many to seek new shores.”

savannah-irish-festThese Irish on arrival suffered prejudice and discrimination but it was that willingness to do the dirty, dangerous and low-paid work that made them important to Savannah’s economy. As in other parts of America the Irish soon realised the best way to raise their collective lot was with political clout and they soon became, and remain still, major players in Savannah society.

Sean McNally only began playing the mandolin in 2014 after taking a few years away from the music scene but a few open mic performances and a regular solo spot which was dubbed ‘Monday Mandolin Mayhem’ and after responding to an audience request to play the Dropkick Murphys Sean realised something. If he can get such a great audience reaction to a stripped down cover song on just mando and vocals the next step was to form a band. Gathering around him old friends in Henny ‘da butcha’ on drums and Jeremy Riddle on guitar and like a celtic-punk Van Halen the last member of the band is Sean’s son Bryce on bass.

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This is In For A Penny’s second release after last years debut album, The Guardian Angel Sessions. We missed that but the good folk at Celtic Folk Punk And More never miss anything so you can read their review of that here. This EP follows pretty much the same route as the album with a handful of Irish standards butting up against a handful of self -penned songs. Needless to say I much prefer their own songs though there is nothing like a song like ‘The Rare Auld Mountain Dew’ to get the blood pumping and the ales flowing. In For A Penny have that age old problem for Irish/Celtic-punk bands. They could quite easily just keep singing the standards and the bookings would still roll in and they would keep everyone happy but every musician must have the urge to get some of their own material out and when it’s as good as In For A Penny’s then I’m afraid it is a necessity!

in-for-a-penny-skullOn Every Day Should Be Saint Paddy’s Day you get five tracks, two covers and three originals that clock in at a very healthy sixteen minutes. Its basically a collection of drinking songs with a shed load of energy all done with enough of their own approach to stand it out. The EP begins with ‘The Rare Auld Mountain Dew’ which was around for years before The Pogues and The Dubliners collaborated back in 1987 for a Top Ten hit in Britain and re-introduced it to future generations. Dating from 1882 it has become fairly popular but you’ll not hear a pumped up version like this one too often. Sean has a real strong voice that suits the style of the band completely and errs more towards to the Drew/MacGowan style of singing than the O’Donnells! Another original Whiskey in Heaven’ is up next and Sean introduces the song to his Dad and Bryce’s Grandad who sadly passed away last year. He must be well proud sitting up there with a Jameson’s in hand looking down.

“I’m not ready to go / I’m having too much fun, I’m having too much fun / When it’s my time to go /I hope there’s whiskey in heaven”
The last time he saw the band play they played ‘Whiskey In Heaven’ so seems apt to dedicate this to him. Great songwriting and  I recently heard the phrase (from a non-Irish person) about drinking songs and “racial stereotyping”. Well I can think of no better words to reply than what a load of fecking bollocks. The Irish drink. Obviously not all but it is part of our culture and if you don’t get it then keep your opinions to yourself rather than try and score points off the celtic-punk scene.
(here’s a live version with the sound quite low so get it turned up!)

Another original up next which was the first release from the EP. ‘Stumblin’ Home’ is the standout for me here with a seriously great singalong chorus and the addition of some great fiddle from one of the bands mates. You need to get this fella signed up Sean. It’s the slowest of the songs so far, or so it seems, but Sean’s vocals keep the energy right up there.

The band released the class video for ‘Stumblin’ Home’ above, which was filmed over the course of two days at various pubs, Sean’s flat and on their home streets of Tybee Island, Georgia. Have a watch and tell me you not been there too… Love the tricolour and The Rumjacks t-shirt by the way Sean!
in-for-a-pennyNext up is the bhoys St Patrick’s Day anthem ‘Every Day Should Be Saint Paddy’s Day’ and you can breathe a sigh of relief as these guys know full on well it’s not St Patty’s! Now can you just tell the rest of America for us. A bit of tin whistle comes in here and adds to the sound and as anthems go its a good ‘un. We’d all love it to be true but our livers would disagree but whens the last time we gave them a word edgeways. A great riproaring trek through Irish-America’s good and bad bits about our patron Saints feast day in which they reveal the major reason they think ‘Every Day Should Be Saint Paddy’s Day’ is that they would never be short of a place to play! The EP comes to an end with the other standout for me. ‘The Parting Glass’ was made famous by The Clancy Brothers and is the perfect way to end any record. Sean plays mandolin and sings along and I don’t know why but I find it absolutely brilliant. We all have our own reasons to like this song and usually it’s to do with someone close to us and I’m no different. Sean’s reigns in the energy and instead lets emotion come out and his hoarse raspy vocals do indeed do the song perfect justice.
If I was local to these boys then I just know we would be great mates and no doubt great drinking buddies too. In For A Penny are not pretending to be anything they’re not it’s just good old fashioned Irish music with an injection of punk rock spirit that will keep the flames alive for the next generation of Irish down Savannah way.
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One thought on “EP REVIEW: IN FOR A PENNY- ‘Every Day Should be Saint Paddy’s Day’ (2016)

  1. In For A Penny January 26, 2017 at 4:58 pm Reply

    Thanks a ton for the very kind words… Hope everyone digs our effort… we’re havin’ a blast here in the dirty south!

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