Author Archives: theold69th

1916’S BILL CHATS WITH LONDON CELTIC PUNKS ABOUT THE BANDS LATEST ALBUM

Upstate NY, Celtic rockers 1916 are an explosive concoction of modern Irish Folk, Punk and Psychobilly which makes 1916’s sound both highly original and at the same time traditional! A band that truly stands apart from other bands in the Celtic-Punk genre.

Our man Raymond Lloyd Ball caught up with lead singer and songwriter Bill Herring to talk about the band’s origins and their highly rated latest album Revolutions.

So here’s the story. 1916 is a band from Rochester, NY, about 45 minutes from where I am in Buffalo. We’ll touch on it, but this region of New York State was a place where, in the 1850s-1860s many Irish immigrants made their way from New York City or Boston. Obviously, the name “1916” needs no explanation. I was able to get an interview with Bill Herring, singer and guitarist in the band about the latest album “Revolutions” and the general gist of the scene as is.

Ray: First of all, we get the prominence of the name 1916, but what in the community in Rochester gave you guys both the incentive and the ability to put together the group and really make it work?

Bill: Well the “working” of 1916 is always something I consider to be a work in progress. Always evolving, changing with the times.

The name came about as a result of a healthy respect for Irish history and as a desire to get Americans interested in their own shared past. When we first started the group there were many many people who had no idea what “1916” stood for or what the significance of the name was. We always try to respect that history in our songs whenever we can-with undertones of revolution and forging your own path throughout the vibe of the music. That being said we do try to have some fun with it as well, with a songs like Ordinary Man and Khaleesi.

Rochester and most of central/western NY state is heavily steeped in a rich history of Irish culture. You’d be hard pressed to stumble through a post colonial churchyard west of Syracuse without finding Irish names on half the headstones. That rebel spirit has revealed itself in the existence of the Molly McGuires in the 1800’s and later on the Hibernians as time passed. I’m sure you even probably heard of the Fenian raids of post civil war Buffalo into British owned Canada in hopes of seizing a new Ireland. Now I’d be lying if I said we did name the band with all this in mind…but maybe it was all this history that led us to inevitably choose that name. I will say there is a quote from Dave King of Flogging Molly, where he talks on the Whiskey on a Sunday film they released several years ago. He mentions growing up in Ireland and seeing the young men of Dublin falling into a life of war with the IRA, and that there must be a higher form of communication to let people know what is happening over there. The only thought I had after hearing that was that-through intense, super fun music, you could engage people enough to get them interested in learning about this past…and how it affects the present day situation between Ireland and the USA.

Ray: Awesome answer, I’m AOH Myself.

Bill: As am I…

The Ancient Order of Hibernians is an Irish/Catholic fraternal group that does everything from charitable work to commemorations of things such, as Bill mentioned, the Fenian Raids from Buffalo to then British Canada. As a member from here, we hold an annual ceremony to the raids and to those who gave their lives for the cause of Irish independence.

Ray: So, given that history, how do you feel it’s important to incorporate modern music in a way that’s different then the traditional sessions you here at every other pub?  I know you incorporate modern instrumentation while still harkening to topics that are either old in premise, modern, or similar (I’m thinking of a man you don’t meet everyday) and make it fresh?

Bill: Yes I think it’s important, at least for 1916, to provide a bridge between Irish traditional music and American folk/rock music. Even early county music has its roots steeped in Irish and Scottish music. That’s really the sound we’re going for. An American band that pays tribute to our immigrant cultural heritage.

Ray: Lastly, in terms of Revolutions, that came out just at the end of last year if I’m not mistaken. How on earth did you cut a record, and a good one at that, during the pandemic?  How how did that effect the process 1916 has either writing or recording?  Obviously “When We Reopen” is directly about it, but did anything else about the pandemic change the record?

Bill: The record wasn’t really about the pandemic. We actually wrote all of those songs (except for When we Reopen) well before any of this craziness ever happened. If anything there was a palpable vibe that I felt during the writing of those songs that you could feel out on the streets. People were edgy…combative. It felt like something bad was about to happen. The song that most mirrors that I think is The Falling. I wanted to write a song about my observations on the devolution of humanity in the face of our own technological achievements. Then I saw how bad things really could get the following year with the plague and the riots.
We recorded that record, mostly, with Bob Schmidt – (formerly of Flogging Molly) at the engineers booth along with our trusted friend Doug White, owner of Watchmen Studios in Lockport NY.
Having missed two consecutive St Patrick’s Days now, we are still trying to save up enough money to release the album on disc. I think people don’t realize how hard the shutdowns were on bands like ours. It was a tough tough time and I hope this bullshit is over soon.

Ray: That said, “Revolutions” is a solid record. I’ve been listening to it on and off for some time now. It’s got the classic 1916 vibe, upright bass, classic (though I’m definitely biased) Gretsch guitars, and a handful of traditional instruments with a solid kit. Is it reinventing the wheel?  No. And better for it. We’ve all come a long way since The Pogues and earlier, more brash bagpipes-over-Minor Threat-style Celtic Punk. And there have been a number of bigger and smaller acts that have definitely left their mark upon the scene. They take some rockabilly, some punk, and a lot of Celt to make a fine Irish/American blend. Cheers to the guy from down the I-90.

Buy Revolutions  Amazon  Apple

Contact 1916  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  Bandcamp  YouTube

Thanks to Raymond Lloyd Ball. He has already featured on these pages as the driving force behind The Fighting 69th from Buffalo. The review of his 2-volume set of Dropkick Murphys covers was one of the most viewed of that year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board the London Celtic Punks team. Writer, artist, musician he is a credit to the American-Irish community and you can find a wealth of his material available at his Bandcamp site.

During the lockdown 1916 played several full concert live streams, as well as some great solo performances from Bill himself. Here’s just under two hours of 1916 from this years St. Patrick’s Day live stream performance. I can barely remember it through a fog of stouts and ales though I know I must have woke the neighbours! The music starts at nineteen minutes.

EP REVIEW: SHADOWS OF BOSTON – ‘Demo’ (2021)

FREE DOWNLOAD!!

Amid the ashes of the Boston music scene burns an ember. A glowing promise of the raging fires that used to burn. The keepers of the flame are SHADOWS OF BOSTON.

A new Celtic Street Punk band band formed out of ex-members of Boston Punk bands Dropkick Murphys, Toxic Narcotic and The Blue Bloods. Raymond Lloyd Ball was among the first to hear the Shadows Of Boston debut release, a 4 track EP that has already set the Celtic-Punk scene alight, and here lets us know what all the fuss is about.

Did anyone believe a band out of Boston would be playing a mix of rock, punk, folk, and Celtic music? Of course you do. We all know and love the Murphy’s. And I’ll happily buy their records, merch, etc. because they’re something I grew up loving and shaped my musical trajectory.

I read in a review of the last album that it was “dad rock”. And it’s true. We can’t all be 20-something or younger pisspots forever.

For me, it’s a bittersweet pill to swallow, but that’s for another day. Fast forward to August 2021. I caught some random post that there was a new group coming out of Boston with ex-DKM piper “Scruffy” Wallace.

Shadows Of Boston left to right: Eric – Bass * Benny – Accordion, Banjo, Harp (yes feckiing harp!!!, Bagpipes * Tim – Drums, Bagpipes * Tony – Vocals, Guitar * Al – Lead Guitar, Vocals * Herb – Mandolin, Guitar, Bagpipes *   Scruffy – Vocals, Whistles, Bagpipes *

I didn’t pay a whole ton of attention at the time. Much like the Street Dogs and the Walker Roaders, I didn’t want to think of them as a cool offshoot of DKM.

While each of said groups I love, my skepticism is always there. How can we really keep reinventing the wheel? Frankly we can’t. In the words of the McKenzies- “It’s all been done before”. But that sure as hell doesn’t mean we can’t revisit it.

Enter “Shadow of Boston”. They released a four track demo EP just days ago. Skeptic or not, the rumblings of Celtic punk out of Boston was enough to make me get a copy.

I was floored. Hard. Brash. Unrefined. In-your-face punk music with a Celtic twist. To those of us who still listen to “Sing Loud, Sing Proud” or “Do or Die”, or at least spent our youth doing so-this album is for you.

Part of the beauty of it is it’s format. It’s not squeaky-clean overproduced. It’s rough around the edges. I would love to delve into lyrics and styles but I can’t. And that is awesome. Other than the titles, I can’t make most of it out. And unless you google them, I can’t make a damn word out of a DKM record until “The Gangs all Here”. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. But to old, curmudgeonly bastards who have heard not only the Murphy’s, but important bands from the late-90s / early-00s Celtic punk-download a copy of this. It’s a diamond in the rough of a million bands playing the same thing. Not to knock anyone-and I’ve already talked about that other Boston Celtic band more than I wanted. But for those who remember Far From Finished or Righteous Jams – older Boston punk bands that didn’t make it past an album or two. This record is for you. Forget the connection with that other band. Yeah, ex members, great. But for everyone who’s complained over the groups of this era losing their edge – shut up and download the record. It’s truly a breath of fresh air you didn’t even realize you needed.

(Download or stream the Shadows Of Boston EP from the Bandcamp player below) 

SOB Demo  on all platforms!! ..Spotify, itunes Tidal…etc.etc but free on Bandcamp

Contact Shadows Of Boston  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

Scruffy and Benny sat down with Mistress Carrie and did The Mistress Carrie Podcast at the end of 2020. Scruffy spoke of his time in The Dropkick Murphys, touring the world, learning the bagpipes and Punk-Rock, while they both talked about their time deployed in combat (would love to hear what they think of the current situation!), what makes Boston the city that it is and all things Shadows Of Boston.
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Thanks to Raymond Lloyd Ball for the great review. He has already featured on these pages as the driving force behind The Fighting 69th from Buffalo. The review of his 2-volume set of Dropkick Murphys covers was one of the most viewed of the year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board the London Celtic Punks team. Writer, artist, musician he is a credit to the American-Irish community and you can find a wealth of his material available at his Bandcamp site .
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