Certain times of the yearly calendar find themselves strongly associated with certain musical acts. For example, French pop chanteuse April March recalls the perkiness of spring and The Decemberists bring, well, December to mind.
In March, in Houston, it's Rabbit season.
Like our furry little bunny friends, The Dead Rabbits are now awakened from hibernation and will soon be venue-hopping this emerald-green month. The Press caught up with the Celt-punk band's front man, Seamuis Strain, to see how the group plans to celebrate the month where everyone's Irish.
"Right then, where to begin? Earlier this year I was approached by the new owner of Dan Electro's, Jason Sandman, about playing a show. It was then I proposed that he should do away with his SXSW show, which was scheduled for the 14th, and bring back the Heights Celtic Festival."
The festival, absent in recent years, had been a Heights staple following Houston's St. Patrick's Day Parade. This year's event is slated from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. this Saturday at Dan Electro's. Tickets are available online, but Strain says there's a perfect chance to grab 'em for free at the 56th annual parade, which begins at noon in downtown Houston.
"Anyone wishing to get their hands on free tickets can get them from our team of bunnies that will be in and around the review stand at the St. Patrick's Day Parade earlier that afternoon of the fest," he notes. "The review stand is located at Texas Avenue and Austin Street downtown."
Once there, Strain says Irish heritage fans can settle in for hours of entertainment. Cass-Barrington Academy of Irish Dance will be on hand performing traditional step dance, while bands include the family-friendly family band The Traveling Murphys and Austin's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and Black Irish Texas. The Rabbits close the fest's official events.
"All ages are welcome at the fest and we encourage folks to bring acoustic instruments if they like. We'll most likely have a sit down after the show and play some more tunes," says Strain. "It's going to be a re-birthing of the fest, as it were, but we're looking forward to watching it grow."
That day's events are actually the centerpiece of a triad of events the band has scheduled to celebrate all things Irish. They'll kick off a busy week with a show tomorrow at Union Tavern in Clear Lake, billed as a "Pre-Paddy's Day Party." The Grizzly Band and Quiet Morning & The Calamity will join in for a night that's sure to keep the venue's bartenders moving mass quantities of Guinness and Jameson.
Strain says his band has been working on its new album, and this month is the perfect opportunity to unleash some of the new Rabbits madness on the unsuspecting. Consider yourselves warned, listeners.
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"We've a couple of new tunes we'll be debuting for folks, a new pirate tune called 'Away' that begins with a metal intro and has a mando/banjo solo battle during the bridge," Strain says. "Paddy's Day itself we'll be playing at Griff's. Not only is it Paddy's Day but it's Griff's 50th anniversary as well Everything kicks off at Griff's at noon."
Strain encourages folks to buy pre-sale tickets to the show, when they'll only be five bucks. Music should begin around 7 p.m. with every-show-is-a-party act The Velostacks. Strain says they'll give way to "the almighty 30footFALL," and the Rabbits rounding out the evening.
We asked Strain about the band's plans beyond March. Will the Rabbits play groundhog and return to shelter after seeing their shadows this month? Or will these approaching dates multiply into more in the near future?
"We'll be taking some time after Paddy's Day to put the finishing touches on all the new stuff and get busy recording and preparing our new album," he says. "Then, we'll be heading back out to meander 'cross the nation come fall."
Strain said the band has enough skin in the game and a strong enough following now to bring newer acts along. He said that's a priority in 2015.
"In town, we'll be playing a show every couple of months or so and bringing on new up-and-comers and putting them in the sweet spot on the bill to get 'em some experience and exposure," he promises.
Moshing, beer-sloshing and even being dragged onstage to help sing "We must get back to drinking!" from "Dear Richard's Wake," are typical occurrences at Rabbits shows.
But just because the band is having as grand a time as the audience doesn't mean it doesn't take it's business seriously. That's something the March dates -- particularly the band's role in returning the Heights Celtic Festival to Houston -- should prove.
"I guess I would say that we work very hard at what we do," Strain surmises. "By and large we have to enjoy ourselves, or what's the point of it all, yeah? I believe that energy we have amongst ourselves onstage carries over the audience and vice versa.
"I say a show should be just that!", he adds. "It always troubles me to see a great band up there on the stage staring at their shoelaces. We strive to give people something to get fired up about! A couple of pints doesn't hurt, either!"
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