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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: March 6, 2018

Dropkick Murphys will play an early St. Patrick’s Day show in Portland

Written by: Ray Routhier

Boston-based Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys will bring their St. Patrick’s Day tour to Portland’s State Theatre Wednesday.
Photo by Gregory Nolan

Seems the whole world wants to rock hard on St. Patrick’s Day, and the members of Dropkick Murphys are happy to oblige.

This is the busiest time of year for the Celtic punk band from Boston, said drummer Matt Kelly. This year, the band spent three weeks in February in Europe before starting a three-week tour of the U.S. The annual St. Patrick’s Day tour ends with a string of shows in New England.

The band will give Maine fans an early St. Patrick’s Day present, playing a sold-out show at Portland’s State Theatre Wednesday. Then it’s down to Boston for four shows at the House of Blues, including one on the holiday itself.

“Family, friends and people we haven’t heard from since last March come a-ringing to get in,” said Kelly, in an email, of playing the band’s home city on St. Patrick’s Day. “It’s exhausting, but it’s a blast.”

Using traditional Irish music as inspiration for a power punk sound, Dropkick Murphys first hit it big around 1997 while touring with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, another Boston punk band that had national success. Dropkick Murphys went on to have its own success over the past 20 years. They re-worked an old song sung by Red Sox fans more than 100 years ago, “Tessie,” for a hit in 2004 which was used in the Jimmy Fallon film “Fever Pitch.” Their song “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” was used in the 2006 Jack Nicholson film “The Departed.” The tune became the song played at Red Sox games whenever closer Jonathan Papelbon entered a game.

Another measure of success came early this year when Vermont brewer Magic Hat named a beer for the band: Dropkick Murphys Barroom Hero Pub Ale. Money raised from the beer is given to a range of charities. Because the band is on the go so much around St. Patrick’s Day, Kelly, 42, who lives in South Boston, didn’t have time for a phone interview, but he did answer few questions about himself and the band via email.

What’s it like having your own beer? Did you guys help create it? Did you do a lot of taste-testing?

It seems to make sense. Yes, we did help create Barroom Hero. I think that we succeeded in making a nice rendition of an English mild ale. Low ABV (alcohol by volume), i.e. you can have a few without getting hammered. But good flavor and a mild hop aroma. I like the fact that the ale is unpasteurized, making it a “live” beer, which is way more healthy and vitamin-rich than the garbage most macro breweries spew out. Plus, although it’s a specialty beer, it’s not like an IPA, a sour, a wild, or other stuff that beer aficionados would like but your Bud Lite guy would despise. It’s unoffensive but interesting. Pretty much anybody who likes beer will probably enjoy it.

Do you do anything to stay in rock ‘n’ roll shape, given how energetic your shows are?

Personally, I don’t drink alcohol before a gig. I give myself four to five hours to digest between supper and the set. I drink lots of water all day every day. I do a warm-up routine during the band right before us, which involves stretching and playing on practice pads. The music definitely helps energize me, though. So, yeah, that, too.

What would be your perfect St. Patrick’s Day, if you weren’t performing?

Hmmmm … Maybe play a gig the night before, go to Mass in the morning with my family, have a light snack for lunch, check out the parade, and have a salmon or a roast beef dinner, and a little poitín (a traditional Irish spirit) for after-dinner. Chieftains records spinning the whole time at home, too. Pretty simple, really.

Do you have a favorite place to go when you’re in Maine?

We grew up going to a campground across from Long Sands at York Beach. More recently my siblings and I have brought our families to my stepmother’s family place on Wesserunsett Lake (in Madison). Maine is the only place in the U.S. I’d ever consider moving to if I had to leave Massachusetts.


WHERE: State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 14.
HOW MUCH: $35 in advance, $40 day of the show. SOLD OUT

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