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DS Photo Gallery: St. Patrick’s Day in Boston Dropkick Murphys, Turnpike Troubadours and The Rumjacks

Despite living in the Greater Boston Area for the four-plus decades I’ve been alive, and despite having seen numerous Dropkick Murphys lineups play numerous Dropkick Murphys shows – from a show where they appeared sandwiched between The Mr. Rogers Project and The Pietasters at The Living Room in Providence to headlining the hometown Agganis Arena […]



Despite living in the Greater Boston Area for the four-plus decades I’ve been alive, and despite having seen numerous Dropkick Murphys lineups play numerous Dropkick Murphys shows – from a show where they appeared sandwiched between The Mr. Rogers Project and The Pietasters at The Living Room in Providence to headlining the hometown Agganis Arena over St. Patrick’s Day weekend – I’d never actually seen the band live and in person on the most Boston Irish of holidays itself. Until now. The 2023 installment of the Dropkicks’ annual St. Patrick’s Day weekend festivities took three days at the massive new MGM Music Hall that serves as the literal back door to Fenway Park, with Sunday’s wrap-up show happening across the street at the comparatively quaint 2200-capacity House Of Blues.

As has been customary for many of the St. Patrick’s Day weekend festivities that Dropkick have thrown over the years, this run capped off what had been a pretty busy tour schedule in support of their latest album, in this case This Machine Still Kills Fascists, the Woody Guthrie-inspired record that they put out on their own label last year (a follow-up, Okemah Rising, is due out this Spting). Openers rotated slots across the four main shows (Saturday also had an early “soundcheck”-style abridged set and meet-and-greet); St. Patrick’s Day itself featured The Rumjacks and Turnpike Troubadours; Nikki Lane and Jesse Ahern also took their respective turns in the rotation at the weekend’s other shows.

The Rumjacks kicked off the St. Patrick’s Day festivities promptly at 6:30pm to a fairly robust crowd in spite of the early set time. Probably helps that the holiday fell on a Friday and that it’s spot at the end of Lansdowne Street puts MGM right at the start (or end, I suppose) of a run of bars eager to cash in on the most pub-crawlingest of holidays. The Australian lads’ set had a bit of a hometown feel to it, not just because most Celtic/Irish punk bands do pretty well in this market, but because not only is local boy Mike Rivkees manning frontman and tin whistle duties, but his fellow Mickey Rickshaw bandmate Kyle Goyette has been handling accordion duties and may/may not officially be a Rumjack now? The band ripped through a baker’s dozen Irish bangers including “Through These Iron Sights,” “One For The Road” and, of course, “An Irish Pub Song.”

Turnpike Troubadours occupied the middle slot on the bill, and they’re a band I’d been looking forward to catching again for a long time. The last time I saw Turnpike was back in 2018 at Lucero’s Family Block Party in Memphis. It was good, but it wasn’t, from my understanding as someone who was considerably late to the Turnpike game, a really representative set for a variety of reasons, and the band went on hiatus early the following year in order to allow frontman Evan Felker to sort out some personal demons. The band reunited about a year ago and good grief are they making up for lost time. 

Earlier in the week, Turnpike had played in front of something like 75,000 people at the Houston Rodeo and Livestock show which, I’d imagine, is something like Texas’ version of St. Patrick’s Day in Boston. And while that’s a level of nerve-wracking that I can only begin to wrap my head around, it probably has to be a different sort of nerve-wracking to be main support for a long-running Boston Irish punk rock band on their home turf on THEIR day, particularly when you’re A) not from around here and B) playing a style of music that doesn’t always translate to the rowdy, occasionally finicky Boston punk crowd. But make no mistake – Turnpike killed.

The band took the stage and immediately dove into “Long Hot Summer Days,” a boot-stomping cover of a John Hartford track that Turnpike have made their own over the last decade-or so. The song leans heavily into the fiddle and even heavier into multi-part vocal harmonies, and I heard someone up along the barricade comment once the song was done that it was probably the most “punk rock” moment they’d see tonight, and in many respects, that sentiment wasn’t wrong. But at it’s core, “Long Hot Summer Days” is a blue-collar working song and Dropkick Murphys are one of the last local vestiges of a blue collar core that is all but falling by the wayside, and so maybe Turnpike as a band are not unlike Dropkick’s cousins from Oklahoma. From there, the band ripped through a total of ten songs of love and heartache and rebellion. “7&7” and “Gin, Smoke & Lies” and “A Tornado Warning” were particularly well-received by the crowd that, sure, was chock-full of scally caps but was also not without it’s own share of cowboy hats. In Boston!

From there, obviously, it was time for the main attraction, the one-and-only Dropkick Murphys. As per usual, the band took the stage to the Sinead O’Connor/Chieftains rendition of “Foggy Dew” before immediately ripping into “State Of Massachusetts” from their 2007 classic The Meanest Of Times. Frontman and founder Ken Casey handed off live bass playing duties to longtime touring member Kevin Rheault years ago, leaving him free to endlessly, tirelessly pace the stage and interact with the crowd from both behind and atop the barricades at stage front.

Dropkick Murphys have had a bit of a nebulous lineup over the years, and the 2022/3 edition is no different. With Al Barr still sidelined to tend to his ailing mother, the current lineup finds Casey joined longtime drummer Matt Kelly, guitarist James Lynch, multi-instrumental virtuosos Tim Brennan (that’s him on accordion on the right) and Tim Brennan joined by Rheault on the bass and Campbell Webster on bagpipes and tin whistle and maybe percussion during some of the Woody Guthrie songs? It was a little tough to tell because the high-energy show was filled a constantly changing pre-programmed digital backdrop and the stage was replete with myriad moving parts, barely two songs goind by without some change in instrumental duties for at least one if not more Dropkicks.

The band was also joined on stage by a host of special guests on the evening. Erin McKenzie (seen at left), most notably of The Doped Up Dollies but also collaborator with the likes of Big D and The Kids Table and Lenny Lashley and, of course, the Dropkicks, joined for a charged-up rendition of “The Dirty Glass.” Turnpike Troubadours’ Evan Felker came out for “The Last One,” the track he lent his vocal talents to on record on This Machine Still Kills Fascists. They were also joined on stage by Woody Guthrie’s grandson Cole Quest on dobro.

Dropkick Murphys have done a lot of good for both the music community and the community-at-large, particularly here in Massachusetts, over the course of the last quarter-century. Even if you strip away some of the over-the-top garish green shamrock imagery in the crowd (and out on the street), St. Patrick’s Day weekend serves as a way for the community to come together and both celebrate with the band and, ultimately, celebrate the band and what they stand for and to repay the favor to the band who now carry the torch for the punk music scene in Boston. It’s like old home day but for a full, unofficial long weekend, and I’m glad to say I finally shot the weekend’s crown jewel event. See below for more slideshows from each of the bands performances!

The Rumjacks Slideshow

Turnpike Troubadours Slideshow

Dropkick Murphys Slideshow

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