St. Patrick’s Day, for most of us, usually means the wearing of the green, even if you’re not Irish, and taking part in the celebrations in some big or small way. But for one local band, this is their peak season to entertain, and this year they are playing double duty. St. Patrick’s Day will find The Pub Boys on stage at Maxwell’s Pub on Charlotte Street during the evening, and then they are off to CBU to play at The Pit Lounge.
Consisting of Gordie Parsons (lead vocals, 6 & 12 string guitars, bouzouki), Tom McMullin (vocals, bass, 6 & 12 string guitars), Matt Earhart (vocals, fiddle, mandolin), and Shawn Bigley (vocals, bodhran, mandolin, bouzouki, and guitar), The Pub Boys have been together for the past two years. Each has considerable history in various other bands and musical styles, but the chemistry is just right in this genre and format.
Parsons, the bandleader, explains how the group evolved. “I met Tom McMullin on a retreat weekend, and we really liked how our voices blended, so we decided to get together and see what happened. We performed as a duo for quite some time and sometimes we’d add a fiddle player or bodhran or mandolin, and eventually we decided to try a permanent four-piece arrangement, and we are very pleased with that. It’s worked out very well.”
As for the name, it just kind of stuck. “We tried to find the Gaelic equivalent of The Pub Boys,” recalls McMullin, “and we did quite a lengthy search and pretty well gave up, since there doesn’t seem to be an appropriate translation and so we just became known as The Pub Boys.”
The Pub Boys are used to playing for a more mature audience, so performing at the Pit is a whole new experience for the veterans. “We will likely stick to a lot of Great Big Sea type tunes,” says Parsons, “and a lot of lively stuff. And because it’s St Patrick’s Day, we will do some old traditional Irish tunes, and a lot of the kids will recognize many of those and appreciate them.” He says it’s a time of year when they tend to bring out some songs that they don’t normally do like “Danny Boy” and some of the old rebel tunes. “You know, the kind that you don’t often hear in the pubs but it’s that time of year and it’s Irish and that’s what people generally like to hear, and that’s what we’re going to be doing.”
“I have to say that this particular group is a lot of fun,” he continues. “We are always carrying on, joking around, and I find there’s a lot of interaction with the audience; a lot of our music is limericks and that type of songs, which in itself brings a lot of laughter to the event, so I certainly enjoy being in The Pub Boys a lot more because of that joviality.”
Shawn Bigley is the resident jokester among the lot and says that he learned early on what a crowd is looking for when they come out to any show. “You’ll often hear me say that people don’t necessarily hire us to just play music, they hire us to entertain them. We do that primarily through music and story, but if we’re not having a good time, then nobody’s going to have a good time. If we’re up there playing,” he explains, “and it could be the best music, but if we look like we’re having a root canal then nobody’s having a good time. It’s only when you perform great and engage the audience that everybody leaves happy at the end of the night.”
Bigley expects that playing at the Pit Lounge will prove to be a milestone for the band. “I’m excited to get out to the Pit. Any way you look at it, when young people do come out to our show, it’s a very positive thing, for both of us. I think these kids are going to hear some stuff that they haven’t heard in a while and they are going to really enjoy it and for us it’s an opportunity to reach a group that we don’t normally play for and hopefully they’ll continue to come out and see us in the future.”
The youngest and most recent addition to The Pub Boys is Matt Earhart. “I’ve been a member for just over two years, and I must say it was a little nerve-wracking at first. I was afraid I was going to show up and not fit into their well-oiled machine I guess,” Earhart remembers, “but I think we clicked almost immediately and the guys have been extremely supportive.” He says it was a transition for everyone but especially himself. “I was really used to being the front guy for most of whatever I’ve done on stage up to that point. It probably took a couple of months to really get used to playing back up; that was the main challenge for me.”
Earhart’s quite excited to be out there playing traditional Irish music. “They play a lot of the material that I like to listen to, so it felt great right from the start, and here we are two years later and it still feels great!”
Parsons foresees a hectic schedule in the days leading up to March 17th. “St. Paddy’s Day is a big time for us, and actually it’s a month long event for us. The weekend before, we play the Yacht Club on Friday the 12th, then on Saturday the 13th we are at the Main Event, then on St. Patrick’s Day, we are at Maxwell’s from 5 to 8:30pm, followed by the Pit 10pm to 1am, so it will be a busy day, but a fun day.”
Visit thepubboys.com for more info and to check back on more upcoming gigs.