Nothing sets the tone for a holiday quite like music. On St. Patrick’s what are you going to listen to? Li’l Kim? No you want hear something with an Irish spirit. U2 is, without a doubt, the biggest band to ever come out of the Emerald Isle. But what about lesser-known, more traditional Irish sounds?
5. The Chieftans—Dating all the way back to Dublin in 1962 (two years before yours truly was born), the Chieftans have been performing tradition “Diddly-Idle” music for more nearly 50 years. Their instrumental and largely built around uilleann pipes—the smaller Irish bagpipes with a more delicate sound than the blare of the Scottish war pipes. The Chieftans have recorded more than 40 albums. Talk about the luck o’ the Irish.
4. The Dubliners—Another old-school band or Eire, the Dubliners, like the Chieftans, were also founded in 1962, originally called The Ronnie Drew Ballad Group. They’ve recorded some 30 albums and many compilations. One of their big hits is entitled “Seven Drunken Nights.”
3. The Cranberries—This ‘90s celtic pop-rock group is famed for their big hit, “Linger” as well as several others, was formed in Limerick in 1989. That seems appropriate given the heartily poetic nature of the Cranberries’ songs. The band broke up in the early oughts but enjoyed reunion in 2009 and the release of a new album, “Roses,” in 2012.
2. Flogging Molly—This band, formed in 1997, moves away from the more balladic style of traditional Irish music, blending the tradition with a punk rock sensibility. Flogging Molly was born of Ireland, but not born in it. Rather, the band came together in L.A., after Irish-born vocalist Dave King hooked up with guitarist Ted Hutt, bassist Jeff Peters, and violin player Bridget Regan. They’re a genuine expression of the Irish diaspora.
1. The Pogues—This is quite possibly the quintessential Irish pop band. Their name comes from the Irish Gaelic póg mo thóin (pogue ma-hone), or “kiss my behind.” Active between 1982 and 1996, the band had many hits, the most powerful of which, “Thousands are Sailing” can move an Irish expat to tears. They reunited for a 30th anniversary tour in 2012.