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Dropkick Murphys thrive on disparate musical genre

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Friday, Sept. 9, 2011

The Dropkick Murphys already have established the viability of a weird, unlikely combination -- punk rock and Irish folk. Like the legendary Pogues before them -- and many lesser bands who came after -- they have found the largely invisible connections between these disparate musical genres, creatively fusing two unstable elements that seemed to have little in common.

Yet, the band seems to thrive on dichotomies. They're a favorite of the get-drunk-and-mosh meathead crowd, yet, they've got a pronounced affection for history and literature. In an even more unlikely combination, they're hardcore punk rockers who go nuts for (Boston) sports. Lately, they've had quite a bit to cheer about.

"We've always been a band that wore our sports allegiances on our sleeves," songwriter/vocalist/bassist Ken Casey says. "I was lucky enough to be in Vancouver for Game 7 (of the Stanley Cup Finals). I got to go up with the team, go on the ice, and hold the Cup. And the jersey that I actually wore on the ice that night, I've worn at every show we've played since. Whether it's 100 degrees out or not, you better believe I'll be wearing it.

"We actually had two nights of shows in Vancouver after that, and (I) did quite a bit of 'rubbing it in.' "

Although the Bruins typically are a distant fourth in Bostonians' affections (after the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics), the Dropkick Murphys always have put them higher. They wrote "Time to Go," about the team in 2003, which has become an unofficial anthem for the Bruins -- as has their re-working of "Tessie," the old Red Sox song.

As it turns out, the band's penchant for boozy, shout-along choruses works as well in arenas as it does in dingy rock clubs.

The song "I'm Shipping Up to Boston," featured prominently in the Oscar-winning Martin Scorsese Boston crime drama "The Departed," took the band's profile to another level.

Their most recent album, "Going Out in Style," is their first in four years, and attempts something startlingly ambitious and unusual -- a concept album written with the writer Michael Patrick McDonald ("All Souls," "Easter Rising").

"We were halfway through writing a record, and decided to focus it on a character, even though the stories were based on different people's experiences and lives. In the old days, literature influenced music, and music influenced literature, particularly in Ireland. Books like 'Finnegan's Wake,' and Brendan Behan's plays influenced his brother to write the song 'The Auld Triangle,' for just a couple of examples. So, we went to a friend of ours from Boston, Michael McDonald, and told him, 'This is what it's about. We want you to bring a character to life, based on these songs.' He's just about finished with the short story, about 30 to 40 pages."

The story might be released online. They're also considering doing a repackaging of the album with an audio version of the story, and, perhaps, a collector's edition with a physical book. The plan is to have it done by the holidays. If not, St. Patrick's Day is the next logical target.

"It gives a little more depth and weight to the album, I think. Especially in this day of iTunes, and just checking out a song here and there, it's a good way to connect all the dots (of an album)."

Additional Information:

Dropkick Murphys

When: 5:30 p.m. Monday

Admission: $32.50-$38

Where: Trib Total Media Amphitheatre, Station Square

Details: 877-435-9849

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