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Philadelphia

How to Be Irish in Philly

How To Be Irish in Philly This Week

The beautiful 19th century St. Malachy’s Church in North Philadelphia will be the setting on Sunday, November 1 for the annual Mick Moloney and Friends concert to benefit the church and school founded by Irish immigrants and the Sisters of Mercy.

Limerick native Moloney, who is both a musician and historian, first started the concert more than 25 years ago when he was living in Philadelphia and working at the University of Pennsylvania. The catalyst for the concert was his friendship with then pastor, Father John McNamee, whose book, “Diary of a City Priest,” chronicled his years ministering to the poor in North Philadelphia.

Moloney has been credited with renewing interest in traditional Irish music in the Philadelphia region. McNamee turned a small Catholic parish school into a showpiece for the benefits of a Catholic education: Most of its graduates go on to higher education; even its kindergartners test out at 10 percent above grade level in reading. Continue Reading

Arts, News, People

A Wall That Tells An Irish Story

Joe Magee in the midst of his mural.

Joe Magee in the midst of his mural.

A canvas was too confining for artist Eric Okdeh. That was clear when, after graduating from Tyler School of Art , he got an opportunity to exhibit in a gallery. “All throughout college I was painting murals and the idea of painting on canvas just didn’t click,” says the Philadelphia native. “I like being able to work on public art. I like the inclusiveness, the ability to tell people stories.”

You’ve probably seen one of Okdeh’s murals. He’s done more than 80 all over the city, most for the city’s Mural Arts Program, including an homage to work, based on interviews with local residents, called ‘How We Fish,” at 8th and Cherry Streets and a poignant look at the effects of incarceration on families, “Family Interrupted,” on Dauphin Street which included the work of some of the men from Okdeh’s mural arts classes at Graterford Prison. He’s had commissions as far away as Aman, Jordan, and Sevilla, Spain.

One of his most recent works tells a story that is very personal for the region’s Irish community. It was a private commission from his childhood friend, Joe Magee—“we both grew up in the same Southwest Philly Irish Catholic neighborhood”—who, along with being a director, partner and information security expert at Deloitte and Touche, owns Marty Magee’s, a pub in Prospect Park, Delaware County.

Drive down Route 420 into the heart of Prospect Park and you can’t miss it—a masterpiece on the wall of the pub, overlooking the parking lot. It tells the story of Duffy’s Cut—57 Irish immigrants who died working locally on the railroad. It pays tribute to Commodore John Barry, the Wexford man and Philadelphia transplant who is considered the father of the US Navy. It portrays the Molly Maguires, a group of Irish coal miners who fought—and died—for equality in Pennsylvania’s mines, and Black Jack Kehoe, the leader of the Mollies, whose memory is kept alive by the local Ancient Order of Hibernians division to which Joe Magee belongs. The mural images also stretch back to Ireland—there’s Michael Collins, a hero of Irish independence, and a tribute to other muralists, the Bogside Artists, whose murals, including one of a child in a gas mask, are synonymous with more recent struggles in Derry City in Northern Ireland

“And if you squint your eyes and take a step back, the color base we did was the tricolor,” says Magee. “I wanted to meld all the local Irish history with some of what I spent a lot of time researching—where my family comes from, Antrim, the heart of the troubles.”

Magee bought the pub about eight years ago and had just enough money left over to do a basic renovation of the place, which was always a local tappy (and for a time, a biker bar) that drew construction laborers at the end of their shift, usually still wearing their grubby work clothes.

But Magee wanted his pub to be “more of an Irish pub and a place where someone would be comfortable taking their wife,” so this year he embarked on a renovation on a grander scale. But not before he engaged the “regulars” in a discussion about what changes he wanted to make. “My goal was to keep everybody who was here now here, but to be able to have anyone else walk in and feel comfortable.”

When he held his first ersatz “town meeting” of bar regulars, 80 people showed up and they were, he says, “very open-minded about it,” even the establishment of a dress code. There was buy-in, which made Magee feel like he was on the right track.

Today, Magee’s Irish Pub is more Irish inside and out. A renovated second floor holds three high-end billiards tables which attracted the local pool league. “We added some traditional Irish décor, but with a modern American feel,” says Magee. “It’s like Frank Daly (of Jamison and American Paddy’s Productions) says, it’s all about being Irish-American. “

And the mural, he says, makes the statement loud and clear. “We’re so close to 95 and we wanted to give people enough reason to pull off the road and check it out and also come in an have a beer—maybe.” He laughs.

It was a no-brainer to tap his friend Eric for the job. “I called him two years ago and sent him a picture of the building and told him we were going to clean it up (it was covered in siding) and that I wanted him to do something awesome with it.”

Okdeh, who usually does voluminous research on his mural projects, didn’t have to do much for this one. “Joe felt really strongly about what he wanted to see on the wall.”

Since the Duffy’s Cut incident occurred in 1832, there were no photographs for Okdeh to use for reference. “I went through loads of old photos searching for railroad workers, and many of them were clearly Chinese,” he says. He found enough information on the era and the clothing to allow him to imagine the Duffy’s Cut victims, standing and stooping as if they were posing for a picture.

Portraying the Bogside murals was trickier. They’re someone else’s art, so instead of reproducing the gas mask mural, he found the original photo of the boy and reproduced that rather than the mural itself. “Reproduced” is probably not the right word for what Okdeh does. It’s not like tracing. “I put my own kind of spin on what the photo is depicting. It’s not like lifting someone else’s photos.”

The mural will be dedicated on Saturday, starting at 2 PM at Marty Magee’s, 1110 Lincoln Avenue, in Prospect Park. Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade Director Michael Bradley will emcee the event, which includes an introduction of Eric Okdeh, remarks by Prospect Park Mayor Jeff Harris, a musical tribute by Blackthorn, and an open social event in the pub with the Ancient Order of Hibernians featuring Galway Guild, Joe Magee’s band.

For Joe Magee, the mural has many meanings. Besides a new image for his pub, it also represents the same kind of thing a reunion does—an unforgotten and unbreakable bond formed in childhood. “The neat part for me is that I didn’t have to wonder how to make this happen,” says Magee. “Eric and I grew up playing soccer together at St. Barney’s (St. Barnabas) and then we went out and did stuff with our lives. I’ve always supported his work. It meant a lot to be able to work together on this.”

View our photos of the mural below.

You can view Eric Okdeh’s other murals here.

News, People

A New Brewery Comes to Town

Tim Patton and Christina Burris at St. Benjamin's Brewery.

Tim Patton and Christina Burris at St. Benjamin’s Brewery.

There are an estimated 1.2 million homebrewers in the US, collectively producing more than 2 million barrels of beer a year. Most of them are content to cook up small batches in the basement to drink or share with friends.

Philadelphians Tim Patton and Christina Burris are not among them.

The two friends, dedicated homebrewers who met at a beer event several years ago, are a few weeks away from opening their own craft brewery, called St. Benjamin Brewery—after Philly’s best known beer lover–in what was, in the early 20th century, Finkenhauer Brewery on Fifth Street near Germantown and Cecil B. Moore Avenues in South Kensington.

With savings from an internet startup he founded with a college and a little crowdfunding, Patton bought the building which had been a German brewery more than once and, at various times, a sewing factory and a warehouse. Today, the heavily graffiti-ed neighborhood (not the usual tagging—it has the feel of at least a couple of years of art school), is on the same hipster path as Northern Liberties, which is just a few blocks away. Adjacent factories have been converted into luxury lofts and the sidewalk traffic is decidedly young professional.

Patton and Burris funneled some of their seed money into a complete utility retrofit. “Nothing was up to code,” says Patton, originally from Boothwyn, who left a job as a software engineer to become a brewmeister. (Burris, a native Texan, is an architectural conservator.)

A few weeks ago, there were four shiny stainless beer vats inside the building waiting to be readied for the first batch of beer, made from recipes Patton and Burris painstakingly developed over the last couple of years. “We haven’t used anyone else’s recipes since 2010,” says Burris.

In fact, they’ve been distributing their own brews for years—for free—just to test those recipes. The law restricts homebrewers to 200 gallons and year, and Patton estimates they hit that. “We’ve been giving it away at public events in the city which has gotten us a lot of good feedback,” says Patton.

They’ve settled on a few key beers, including an IPA, the Transcontinental—an amber beer that’s historically Californian–and the Liaison, a lavender saison, a French/Belgian-style beer made with lavender. And there’s no call for drinkers of Guinness or Bud Light to snort. “Everything with a Belgian influence is going to be good,” says Christina, laughing.

To keep close tabs on consumer preferences, Patton and Burris decided to buy a delivery truck and cart kegs to local bars themselves. “We’re making the kind of beer we enjoy,” says Burris, “but if we find that one particular beer takes off, we’ll know right away and we can focus on that.”

There won’t be any bottles right away, but down the line there will be growlers for sale and, ultimately, a brew pub, right where last century’s brewers stabled their cart horses.

Patton and Burris have no designs on becoming the next Anheuser Busch, with worldwide distribution. They think the key to their success will be to be in place when their chosen neighborhood takes off. “There’s a lot of new things come and we want to be part of it,” says Patton.

News, People

The Irish Guy Behind “Hair O’ The Dog’

DJ Dan Cronin with his wife, Maria.

DJ Dan Cronin with his wife, Maria.

Dan Cronin was a party thrower from way back. So way back his first parties were, well, illegal.

“Throwing parties is a natural thing for me,” says Cronin of Mount Laurel, NJ, who heads a technology consulting firm and is the mastermind behind the black-tie do known as “Hair O’ The Dog” that every year draws out Philly’s hippest for a New Year’s Eve-style frolic.

HOD, as it’s known, takes place tomorrow night (for the 20th year in a row) at the Philadelphia Sheraton Downtown. While the theme is Gatsby, the beneficiary of its largesse—it’s part fundraiser—is The Claddagh Fund, founded by Ken Casey of the Dropkick Murphy’s which raises money for underfunded nonprofits in Boston and Philadelphia.

Cronin, who looks like the Irish version of TV chef Guy Fieri, grew up in the Bronx and North Jersey, the grandson of Irish immigrants from Cork and Donegal. He attended Dusquesne University in Pittsburgh, one of the top Catholic colleges in the US. “I was a DJ in college,” he says. “And I took my DJ money, converted the basement of the house where I was living into a bar, with a dance floor and lights, and I would pay police to make sure there was no trouble. . .I was running a speakeasy, basically. I didn’t have a license, no one was of age. . . .”

He laughs. In 1995, now a law-abiding citizen, Cronin called on his party-making skills again to “accelerate the growth” of his new Philly-based business (Chorus Communications, which he founded with childhood friend Robert Molinari) by inviting local telephone engineers and union guys who, he reasoned, would then feel kindly toward this little tech company and steer business their way. “We figured if we had parties we could get these guys tuxed up, get them a little drunk and befriend them,” says Cronin. “Well they loved it, and they helped us for quite a few years.”

Don’t get Cronin wrong. That first HOD wasn’t just a cynical ploy to get business. He had fun too—he was single then, and there were well-dressed, successful women–and he made friendships as well as deals. “To this day I still have relationships with some of the guys I met at those early parties,” he says.

That first year, 75 people paid $40 to get into the Circa Restaurant and Nightclub, now closed, at 15th and Walnut. Since then, the guest list has grown to 1,000 or more, all fun lovers who want to get dressed up and party without fighting the New Year’s Eve amateur crowd. “Actually, back in 1985 when we decided to dot his, people said, ‘Dude, you’re out of your mind. Not way is this going to be successful, Everybody blows their whole wad on New Year’s. They don’t want to go to another party and they don’t have the money,’” recalls Cronin. “But there’s always a way to get done what you want to get done financially, and everybody likes a good party.”

HOD has become a Philly institution and, in 1996, Cronin, influenced by motivational guru Anthony Robbins, added the “give back” aspect to his party—and to his life. “By then we had a pretty nice business and I heard my inner self knocking on the door saying, ‘You promised that if you became successful you’d give back,’’ Cronin recalls. “I became a Big Brother and sponsored a little kid and we added the charity aspect to HOD.”

Every year, HOD raises money for a different charity, from AIDS research and 9/11 survivors to, with a nod to Cronin’s Irish roots, Habitat for Humanity in Belfast and, this year, The Claddagh Fund, which recently expanded into the Delaware Valley where it financially supports organizations that serve children, veterans, and recovering substance abusers. “We probably give anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 to our charities every year,” says Cronin, who serves on the board of the Irish American Business Chamber and Network in Philadelphia.

An event firm now throws the party and Cronin isn’t the only DJ spinning records. The lineup this year includes popular Australian DJ Havana Brown whose “We Run the Night” with Pit Bull hit number one on the worldwide charts; DJ Bizz; the band The Business, a Philly fave; Bryan O’Boyle, late of Mr. Greengenes, another long-running favorite Philly band; and performer Jade Starling of Pretty Poison.

Despite running a successful business–and an equally successful event–he’s  out there DJing on the side, often for Irish crowds. He did his thing at the Philadelphia Fleadh, a showcase for Irish and Irish-American music produced by American Paddy’s Productions, last June in Pennypack Park, and was the DJ at American Paddy’s “American Celtic Christmas” event this December in Bensalem.

“I’m very diverse and have an unparalleled range as a DJ,” says Cronin, who grew up in a family that played Irish music (and who does a more than passable Irish accent, thanks to his Cork cousins). “If someone wants to hear ‘The Town I Loved So Well,’ I know to ask if they want the Phil Coulter version or the Shane McGowan version.”

So don’t think of Cronin, now married and the father of three, as someone who relegates his fun to one night a year. “I have a reputation as a party guy and I’m still a party guy,” he laughs. And  now he’s available for your party too.

News, Sports

A Donnybrook Breaks Out on Saturday

A member of the Irish Wolfhounds rugby team at practice.

They come at each other like charging rhinos, tackling each other at the chest and knees until someone is on the ground under 600 or so pounds of human flesh. All for a prize that looks like a football with a growth disorder.

It’s rugby, and it’s coming—for one day only—to Philadelphia this Saturday, March 19, reviving a tradition called The Donnybrook Cup, which pits a semi-pro/amateur team from the US against Irish players, many of whom play in the Rugby League in England.

The Tomahawks—the US National team, ranked 15th in the world—will face the Irish Wolfhounds (ranked 7th) at Charles Martin Memorial Stadium on Cottman Avenue in northeast Philadelphia, with kick-off at 4 PM (gates open at 2:30 PM). The match-up was a regular St. Patrick’s Day event until 2003, and it’s being revived this year with two teams who have met on the field six times, with the Tomahawks holding a 4-2 edge.

If you don’t think of rugby as an Irish sport—or even an American one—you’re mostly right. “Footy” is most popular in places like England—where it was born—and Australia (Aussie actor Russell Crowe owns his own rugby team). But, says Wolfhounds’ coach Alan Robinson, it’s actually the number two sport in Ireland.
“It’s second after soccer,” says Robinson, who also coaches a team in Coventry, England.

And all those rugby t-shirts you’ve seen are true: They play without protection, they have bigger balls, and they may indeed eat their dead. Well, maybe not that last one, but rugby is as tough as American football, but without helmets, pads, and multimillion dollar salaries. (Ironically, the team is sponsored by a UK insurance and risk management company, Bartlett Group.)

Here’s basically how it works in the International Rugby League:

The object of the game is to get the ball to the other end of the field (where you need to place it on the ground, a goal that gets you 4 points). That earns you the right to kick it for another 2 points. You can also kick it over the opposing goal for one point. The means by which you get there is a series of what in American football are “downs.” That’s where the kicking, running, tackling and blood happen. There are no quarterbacks with a rocket arm in this game—passing is done backwards or sideways so the player with the ball needs to stay a little ahead of his teammates. And the game lasts for 80 minutes, 40 minutes a side.

“Unlike American football, where they rest between downs, in rugby it’s continuous play,” says Robinson. “We don’t rest at all.”

That means rugby players spend more time than their American football counterparts using the cardiovascular machines at the gym, as opposed to the weights. “American footballers are big athletes, but big guys have a tougher time in rugby, you really need to be cardiovascularly fit,” Robinson explains.

Many of his players get plenty of running practice while training for their semi-pro teams. For example, Brendan Guilfoyle, team captain, plays for the Treaty City Titans in Limerick City, as do four other Wolfhounds. Some play for British teams, like the West London Sharks and Northampton Demons. Their opponents are, appropriately, multicultural, with four players from Hawaii, a New York player of Tongan descent, Salesi Tongamoa, and a team captain named Apple Pope from Florida. (Interesting side note: Pope, who has played in Australia, has two brothers, Taco and Pepci. His mother, Chili, has siblings named Peper and Cofi. It’s a long story, involving a grandmother named “Pork.” You can’t make this stuff up.)

Promoters are expecting an exciting game from two teams made up of some of the cream of the rugby crop and some up-and-comers. Fans can expect 80 minutes of pure unadulterated action. You’d be crazy not to go. About as crazy as they are to play a game where one of the most popular t-shirts reads, “Give blood. Play Rugby.”

Music, People

Up Close and Personal with the Dropkick Murphys

Dropkick Murphy's Tim Brennan.

If you’re thinking about switching energy suppliers, you might want to consider the Dropkick Murphys. This Celtic punk band did two shows this week at Philadelphia’s Electric Factory and it couldn’t have been a more apt location for this wild, working man’s group born in the basement of a barbershop in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1996.

It didn’t take long for the Dropkicks to bust out of suburban Boston. They were signed by Hellcat Records in 1998 and by the early 2000s you didn’t need to be a punk aficionado to have heard them. Their reworking of an old Boston Red Sox song, “Tessie” made the soundtrack of the Drew Barrymore-Jimmy Fallon movie “Fever Pitch” and it continues to be played at Red Sox games after the team wins. (It was Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon’s walk-up song too—and he occasionally performed a little jig when it played). A second tune, “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” with lyrics by the late Woody Guthrie, was featured in the 2006 Academy Award-winning Martin Scorsese film, “The Departed” and on an episode of “The Simpsons” called “The Debarted.” If you attended the Boston Bruins-Philadelphia Flyers 2010 NHL Winter Classic in Fenway Park in Boston, you would have heard them perform it live, though if you’re a Flyers fan, you might not have cheered.

You certainly wouldn’t have crowd-surfed or leaped into a writhing mosh pit, but that’s what fans were doing at the group’s two shows this week. We know because our own Brian Mengini was there, taking notes (he interviewed lead guitarist, accordian player and vocalist—and former DKM merchandise guy–Tim Brennan before the show). Most important, he took photos!

Here’s Brian’s interview. See his photos here.

 

What inspired you to pick up the accordion?

When I became a teenager, probably 14 or 15, I started getting re-acquainted with the Irish music that I had heard from my grandparents when I was a kid and I got really into it, especially the Pogues, and wanted to be able to play along to it with something other than a guitar.  So, I bought a tin whistle and taught myself how to play that.  At the time, I was playing drums in a band with some friends and I was at practice one day in my friend’s basement and his father had an accordion and I was like, “does he use that?” and he said no, its been in the basement forever.  So I asked him if I could borrow it and I took it home and just kind of fiddled around for a while and started learning some songs and now here I am playing it for a living.

Now what’s been your biggest obstacle or hurdle in terms of transitioning from the merch end into the band?

No obstacles. I mean, ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to play music and the fact that the guys in the band recognized that although I was slinging their t-shirts that I could still play a few tunes and asking me to play with them, that was just an honor and the fact that I am here today as the lead guitar player, quote unquote, is unbelievable and the fact that I can say I started out as an assistant to a merch guy for the band is pretty…rags to riches.

Where was the first show you did with them as a guitarist?

I don’t remember exactly where it was.  We went over and did a UK/European tour. That was the first one where I was playing guitar and Jeff DeRosa [DKM’s news member] was in the band.  It seems like it was so long ago but it wasn’t that long ago.

What groups would we find on your iPod?

There is a lot of different stuff then you would think.  I mean there is the obvious ones like the Pogues and the Clash but there’s a lot of the Stones and Chuck Berry and Ryan Adams and Hank Williams.  Everything from older country stuff to whatever great new independent bands are out there.

How is it performing in Boston for St Paddy’s Day?

It’s amazing.  We tour and all then to come back home and do a show, it’s amazing.  You’re family and friends are there.  It’s a great energy.

Are you guys doing the Boston parade?

No, this year we are just going to watch.  With all the things we have going on around it, we are going to take it easy and just watch it this year.

What’s the biggest difference between the new CD, “Going Out In Style,”  and “The Meanest of Times?”

Musically, I feel that we have matured.  Also, for this album, we brought on a producer to do things vs us just doing it ourselves.

Do you feel that you will go that route again?

Yes, definitely.  I think it is great.  We are very happy with it!

It’s been 4 years since the last record dropped.  Before that, it was about every 2.  Why did this one take longer?

We had a fairly significant line up change.  One of our guitar players ended up leaving the band.  So I had to switch my instruments around and we acquired Jeff DeRosa, our newest member.  We took a little while to make sure Jeff new all the old songs and everything.  Then we started writing.  But people wont have to wait that long again.  I can promise that.

What’s your favorite track off the new album?

Broken Hymns.  It’s not your typical Dropkick song or what you are used to.  It’s a lot slower.  But I like it.

What’s your favorite Irish drinking song?

I really like Waxie’s Dargle – the Pogues version from “Red Roses from Me.”  There are a lot of Dubliners songs that are awesome as well.

If you could share the bill with one band, any genre, which would it be?

It’s funny because we’ve gotten to a point where a lot of the bands that we would have said, we’ve gotten to tour with. We’ve toured with the Pogues and the Sex Pistols.  It would never happen because there is no way a band could ever open for them but I would say the Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band.  They would blow us off the stage.

When did you guys find out you were performing at the 2010 NHL Winter Classic?

There were discussions about it but we found out probably a couple weeks before hand and I mean just like anything else that we’ve been involved with whether it be the Red Sox or “The Departed” or whatever, the fact that people even bounced our names around with the idea of inviting us to show is incredible.  We were honored to be a part of that.

What is the process when DKM creates new material?  Do ideas just come to you or do you go after a certain topic or subject matter?

As far as lyrics go, Ken & Al… we hope that inspiration strikes them as far as song writing and now and again some of the rest of us will have lines or something that we will throw in there.  I deal mostly with the music writing.  As far as how the songs come about, whether it starts with a vocal melody or a line or a guitar riff, someone will bring something in and we just try to flush it out as a band sometimes.  Sometimes someone will come in with a complete song or sometimes it’s just a part.  But, we’ve worked with each other long enough that we can sort of finish each other’s ideas when it comes to that stuff musically.  As far as writing songs, we just say let’s write some songs and we all get in a room and try to hammer it out.

What’s the most grueling part of making a new album?

I mean we went into the studio in October so probably in August we would go to the practice space in Boston and we would be there for probably about 10 hours a day, just playing acoustics.  We wrote some stuff at Matt Kelly’s house, our drummer’s house in his kitchen just playing acoustics.  So for the first two months, we were probably just playing everything for hours and hours and hours on acoustic guitars.  Then, a couple of weeks before we went into the studio or a month before we went into the studio, we started doing everything louder like it was going to be and fleshing everything out there.  So I mean, the process as far as pre production then going into the recording studio was fairly grueling I guess you can say but ya know, it’s what we do. It’s what we like to do so we’ll sacrifice a couple of months of us sitting in a room with no windows and writing songs in order to get a final product.

For St. Paddy’s Day weekend, what are some of the things to do or some of the things to hit in Boston?

There is so much stuff you can do.  If there are history buffs, there are plenty of historical sites around.  For Dropkicks fans, there are plenty of places that we talk about in songs.  It’s good to go out and see the whole city.  The city itself is small so you can see a lot in a small amount of time.  Then venture on down south to south Boston and it has plenty to offer. That’s for sure!

You guys are playing the House of Blues for the St. Patrick’s holiday.

We’re doing three shows at the House of Blues – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.    Saturday, we are doing an arena show in Lowell, which is going to be incredible and then on Sunday, we are doing a small club show just outside of Boston.

What’s the best place for a pint in Boston?

We always have good times at McGreevy’s.  Also, there are a bunch of good dive bars in south Boston.

You were saying earlier about your process for creating new content. Have you guys ever just showed up at a party or somebody’s house and just jammed?  I saw a video on YouTube with the lead singer and the guitarist from Shinedown, were at a party in someone’s house and were doing some songs acoustic, like a cover of Simple Man.  It was very cool and pure.

No, you know what; we’ve never done that before.  I think that would be a fun thing to do though.  I feel that would be a fun thing to do as we are writing new stuff, like if you have ever seen that documentary on Jerry Seinfeld and he’s getting rid of his old material and just writing all this new stuff. So, while he is writing it, he is popping into these tiny clubs and doing sets just to test out the new stuff.  I would love to do something like that if we were writing a new record and just showed up to a couple of bars in Boston and played some acoustic sets.  That would be amazing! Good idea!

Which is your favorite team – Celtics, Bruins, Sox or Flyers?

The Celtics.

Better food – clam chowder or Philly cheesesteak?

Philly cheesesteak.

Brian Mengini is a professional photographer–and a music lover–from the Philadelphia area. Visit his website at http://www.bmengini.com/.