The Rocks Off 100: Blaggards, Houston's St. Paddy's Day House Band
Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Photos courtesy of Blaggards
Who? Take a little Thin Lizzy and a little Pogues, season it with Johnny Cash, AC/DC and a few gullets-full of Guinness and Powers besides, and you'll have Houston's Blaggards, purveyors of "Stout Irish Rock" for some nine years now. The quartet's 2005 disc Standards belongs in any discography of essential (relatively) recent Houston LPs, as well as the collection of anyone who owns more than three green articles of clothing.
Longtime hometown favorites and multiple Houston Press Music Awards nominees, recently Blaggards were acknowledged as one of America's top sham-rock bands, as it were, when their version of "Irish Rover" was included on the Celtic Invasion compilation headed up by Larry Kirwan of NYC rockers Black 47 ("Funky Ceili"). Other groups on the disc include Irish A-listers the Waterboys and Hothouse Flowers.
"We are really honored to be included," says Blaggards singer and guitarist Patrick Devlin, adding that the disc is available at shows -- which are never less than a day or two away for this band -- and soon at their Web site, blaggards.com.
Besides Devlin, presently Blaggards are Chad Smalley (bass and vocals), Mike McAloon (drums) and newest Blaggard Bonnie Riley (fiddle). She joined up last October, right before Blaggards' annual trek to Ireland -- where of course they go over like gangbusters.
"If you haven't been out to see us recently, prepare to have your mind blown," Devlin says of Riley. "She is amazing."
Home Base: To play, provided they're not on tour, Blaggards prefer the Continental Club (where they'll be this Thursday), Dan Electro's and Ashford Pub. Just to hang out, they're partial to the new Whole Foods on Waugh and DBZ/Diamond guitars where gear is concerned.
Good War Story: "Well, this isn't juicy per se, but this time of year is always kind of entertaining for us as random club owners call us up about a week or two before March 17 expecting to be able to book us," says Devlin. "You know, as though they had the brilliantly original idea of booking an Irish rock band on Paddy's Day and they're beating everyone else to the punch. Typically we're booked up solid a year in advance!"
To wit, check Blaggards' schedule this week: "The Continental Club [Houston] for St. Paddy's Eve-Eve-Eve on Thursday; Friday we'll be in Victoria for the Victoria Bach Festival's St. Paddy's Eve-Eve Party; and Saturday we'll be in Austin at Fadó Irish Pub for St. Paddy's Eve," he says. "The big day will be at O'Bannon's Taphouse in College Station for the second year in a row. Can't wait!"
Why Do You Stay in Houston? "Andy's Cafe," says Devlin before the official Blaggards laptop is commandeered by McAloon.
"Houston is a great town to be a band in," the drummer says. "We could play every weekend in a different part of town and see different people. It isn't a cool city that people move to looking for the next big thing.
"Nobody has ever moved here because it's cool, so everybody that's here is really genuine," he adds. "The people here don't go out looking for cool; they know if they want it, they have to create it themselves. Houston is a town where you can still get a reaction from people.
"Seriously, though: Andy's Cafe," reiterates Devlin.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Surprisingly -- not for them but for the fact that they're the first folks who have declined to answer this prompt in the Rocks Off 100's six-month history -- Devlin and the other Blaggards won't say something that bugs them about the local scene.
"I don't think we can complain," he says. "Houston has been very good to us."
Five Desert Island Discs:
- Mark Knopfler, Get Lucky
- Slayer, Reign In Blood
- Elvis Presley, Sixties Remasters
- ABBA, Greatest Hits
close enough -- ed.
Best Concert You Ever Saw: "Gary Moore, Live at SFX Dublin 1984," Devlin says.
First Song You Fell in Love with: "'Bare Necessities,' Jungle Book soundtrack."
The Blaggards play all damn night starting about 10 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at the Continental Club, 3700 Main.
See who else has joined The Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.
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