NEPA Scene Staff

Celtic punk band Flogging Molly rocks Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe on March 1

Celtic punk band Flogging Molly rocks Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe on March 1
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From a press release:

It was announced today that Celtic punk band Flogging Molly will perform at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe with Lucero and Face to Face on Friday, March 1 at 8 p.m., just a few weeks before St. Patrick’s Day.

Tickets, which are $37.50 in advance or $40 the day of the show, go on sale this Friday, Dec. 21 at 10 a.m. at all Ticketmaster outlets, the Penn’s Peak box office (325 Maury Rd., Jim Thorpe), and Roadies Restaurant and Bar (325 Maury Rd., Jim Thorpe). Penn’s Peak box office and Roadies Restaurant ticket sales are walk-up only; no phone orders.

Founded in Los Angeles in 1997, Flogging Molly has always defied categorization. The infectious originality of their songs is a badge of honor and key to the band’s creativity, their urgency. They infuse punk rock with Celtic instruments – violin, mandolin, and the accordion – and they merge blues progressions with grinding guitars and traditional Irish music, the music of singer and lyricist Dave King’s youth.

“We’re not a traditional band,” explains Dublin-born King. “We are influenced by traditional music and inspired by it, but without question we put our own twist on it.” Theirs is music of exile and rebellion, of struggle and history and protest. It’s music of a country torn down the middle – a deeply beautiful and wounded country that knows no quit – and Flogging Molly pays homage to that resolve in every note. Whether it’s a driving anthem like “Black Friday Rule” or the upbeat duet with Lucinda Williams, “Factory Girls,” the band’s only criteria for its music is simple and bone-deep – that it matters.

“Swagger,” the band’s first album, transcended everyone’s expectations in 2000, and the track “The Worst Day Since Yesterday” was included in the film “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” “Drunken Lullabies” was released in 2002 and certified gold. In 2004, the band released “Within a Mile of Home,” and in 2008, Flogging Molly put out “Float,” a deeply stirring and personal album recorded in King’s native Ireland. It’s no surprise that “Float” found the band’s widest audience yet. The 2011 follow-up “Speed of Darkness” debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 chart and No. 4 on the Billboard Independent Chart.

The social and political awareness that drives Flogging Molly’s music is never more prominent than in their latest release, “Life Is Good,” a strikingly powerful album that arrived at a strikingly key time on June 2, 2017. The sixth studio album by the renowned rock band, delivered in their 20th year, is mature, well-crafted, equally polished, and almost aggressively topical. It is filled with rousing songs that are timeless in their sentiment but directly related to today’s most pressing concerns: politics, the economy, unemployment, planned boomtowns gone bust, immigration policies gone awry, and much more.

For King, it may be the lyrical couplet contained within the surging “Reptiles (We Woke Up)” that points toward the album’s central theme. “We woke up,” sings King, “and we won’t fall back asleep.”

“The thing is, there are things changing,” says King. “That’s why I wrote that line, ‘Like reptiles, we’ll all soon be dust someday.’ It’s quite scary, especially for somebody who has children these days – bringing up family in this environment of who’s welcome and who’s not welcome. I’m talking about the cultures in America and the U.K. – especially American immigration.

“Life Is Good” thus serves as a wake-up call to those who have simply stood by while far-reaching political decisions were made that had a serious impact on them. And, significantly, it also serves as notice that the time for action is now.

People are indeed taking action, adds King, which is a crucial point.

“I think especially with things like government – I think we all tend to fall asleep a little bit when it comes to other people that are making decisions for you. I think we should be the ones influencing the government to make these decisions. It’s a great thing that we’re now taking to the streets again. And it’s a positive thing.”

Imagery abounds on “Life Is Good,” and one of the most memorable images might be found in “Adamstown,” the saga of a planned community west of Dublin that came to a halt in mid-construction a decade ago when the Irish economy crashed – and left little more than a ghost town in its place.

“It had a huge negative connotation to it,” King says of the eerie, unfinished settlement. “But now it’s starting to turn again, people are starting to move there, businesses are starting to open, and there is hope.”

Thematically, hope and inspiration are a major part of “The Hand of John L. Sullivan,” a rollicking track about the legendary “Boston Strong Boy” who was the first-ever heavyweight champion of gloved boxing from 1882-1892. Sullivan was a hero to many, and his story has a cultural significance that fits squarely within the story Flogging Molly want to tell with “Life Is Good.”

“He came from an immigrant family to Boston, and they brought their family over to try to make the best possible world for them,” says King. “We live in an environment right now where that doesn’t seem to be what should be allowed to happen, you know?

Recorded in Ireland and produced by multiple Grammy Award winner Joe Chiccarelli (U2, the White Stripes, Beck), “Life Is Good” is by any measure a formidable return from Flogging Molly, an assessment with which Dave King fully agrees.

“It’s been a tough few years for a lot of us in the band. Dennis [Casey, guitarist] lost his dad, I lost my mother, and there have been certain issues, pertaining to sentiment, in a lot of the songs. But we just try to do the best we can. We’ve always had fun getting together and coming up with the new songs, and it’s still that way.”

Here we see what’s uniquely distinctive about “Life is Good,” as the gravity and weight of these themes never overshadow the sheer fun and exuberance felt in each song, for the message is delivered and built on the backs of boisterous and barreling live touring.

“We’re known for our live shows,” says Dave King. Writing albums has always been a vehicle for us — it’s been a means to get people onto the dance floor. And that’s kind of the way we’ve always approached it, no matter what.”

“The one thing we are is a positive band,” adds King. “When people come and see our shows, it’s a celebration – of life, of the good and of the bad. And we have to take the good and the bad for it to be a life.”

Flogging Molly is Dave King (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bodhran), Bridget Regan (violin, tin whistle), Dennis Casey (acoustic guitar, electric guitar), Bob Schmidt (banjo, mandolin), Matt Hensley (accordion, piano, concertina), Nathen Maxwell (bass guitar), and Mike Alonso (drums, percussion).