Dropkick Murphys coming to Packard Music Hall

As the calendar flips from February to March, there’s no better time for a Dropkick Murphys show.

The Boston-based Irish punk / rock band comes to Packard Music Hall on Wednesday for a pre-St. Patrick’s Day bash with Pennywise and The Scratch opening.

“I suppose the closer we get to the middle of March, you can feel people starting to celebrate a little bit,” Dropkick’s lead guitar player Tim Brennan said. “This time of year the green T-shirts come out in more force in the audience. But we tour all year, and we’re so fortunate it seems our fans are determined to make whatever day we’re in their town St. Patrick’s Day.”

Dropkick Murphys – Ken Casey, lead vocals; Tim Brennan, guitars, tin whistle, accordion, piano and vocals; Jeff DaRosa (guitars, banjo, mandolin and vocals; Matt Kelly, drums, percussion and vocals; James Lynch, guitars and vocals; and Kevin Rheault, bass — are back to all-out rock / punk shows after releasing two mostly acoustic albums, 2022’s “This Machine Still Kills Fascists” and 2023’s “Okemah Rising.”

Both feature original music by the band using lyrics and poetry left behind by folk singer Woody Guthrie, who died in 1967. Wilco, Billy Bragg, Jay Farrar of Son Volt and Jim James of My Morning Jacket are just some of the other artists who have used Guthrie’s archive for inspiration.

“We’d done some of his stuff earlier,” Brennan said. “‘Shipping Up to Boston’ is a Woody Guthrie lyric, and we did ‘There’s Gonna Be a Blackout Tonight.’ When one of our singers, Al Barr, had to take time off to take care of his mom, we wanted to do something, but we didn’t want to do a full-on Dropkick album without him. Sort of a tangential move would be good, so we started working on the Guthrie stuff. It was such a fun project to do, and we got two albums out of it, which was great.”

Making two albums wasn’t the original plan, but the band realized fairly early in the process that they had enough songs to do two and were able to plan accordingly.

“It wasn’t a case of all the songs we liked were on the first one and all the leftovers were on the second one,” Brennan said. “We were super happy with all those songs, and we were glad to put them all out.”

The band also decided to revisit “Shipping Up to Boston,” which became a huge hit for the band when it was used in the movie “The Departed.”

“It’s ostensibly our most famous song, and it’s a Woody Guthrie lyric,” Brennan said. “We thought it would be fun to record it more in keeping with the vibe of those acoustic albums. And a lot of people don’t realize or remember that it’s a Woody Guthie lyric, so it was done to remind them.”

The release of the “This Machine Still Kills Fascists” was followed by the band’s first-ever acoustic tour, playing theaters and all-seated venues, a departure for a band used to performing in front of a moshpit of fans.

“The first time we were a little nervous, but halfway through the first song, most of the crowd would be standing up anyway and our fears were kicked to the side,” he said. “At the end of the day, their Dropkick fans. They’re going to be as animated as they can, even when we’re playing in an acoustic setting.”

On the current tour, that band has created electric arrangements for some of those Guthrie songs. Dropkick Murphys also has been paying tribute to Shane MacGowan, lead singer of The Pogues, who died Nov. 30. DKM has been playing “Dirty Old Town,” a Ewan MacColl song The Pogues did on its “Rum, Sodomy & the Lash” album, and “Body of an American” at various shows.

“We’ve been doing ‘Body of an American’ for a minute, and we did ‘Dirty Old Town’ for a while pre Shane passing away,” Brennan said. “The Pogues are the most important band in the world to me personally, so any time we get to do a song by them, I’m always so thrilled. He was so important to the formation of the band in the first place. Without him and The Pogues, I don’t think Dropkick would exist.”

Brennan first was exposed him to The Pogues when he was 14 years old by one of his teachers.

“He knew I was into music. I liked punk and I liked traditional Irish music. He introduced me to The Pogues, and that literally changed everything for me. I started trying to find tin whistles and accordions and that sort of stuff. That’s where it all started. If I hadn’t become a huge Pogues fan and wanted to play along with the stuff I was listening to, I never would have been able to join the Dropkicks.”

Brennan started out as a drummer, and out of all the instruments he plays, he’s mostly likely to get behind his drum kit at home when he’s not touring. There’s no need for those skills in the Dropkicks with Kelly on drums, but Brennan believes that background helps him as one of the band’s songwriters.

“It helps that I have various beats and things like that at my disposal in my brain,” he said. “It certainly helps not making everything similar. When you’re doing Irish tunes, it’s easy to trap yourself into one of two Celtic-y beats, so I think about it from a drummer’s point of view. And I’m super lucky to work with Matt, who’s just an absolute machine gun back there.”

In addition to touring this year, the band is already thinking about its next album.

“There’s no definitive play yet but we have been working on new stuff. Just recently we sort of penciled in time to get with Ted Hutt, our producer, and start fleshing things out at some point in the next couple of months. We’re sitting down and starting to figure out the new songs. There’s a handful of things we’re working on already.”

If you go …

WHO: Dropkick Murphys, Pennywise and The Scratch

WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Packard Music Hall, 1703 Mahoning Ave NW, Warren

HOW MUCH: Tickets range from $49.50 to $66.50 and are available at the Packard box office and through Ticketmaster.


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