Harley-Davidson is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year and Milwaukee is hosting this celebrating with lots of musical entertainment (http://110.harley-davidson.com/en_US/events/milwaukee2013). The Henry Maier festival grounds opened yesterday, Aug. 29, to H.O.G. members starting at noon and to the general public starting at 5 p.m. Milwaukee-based Celtic punk rock band Whiskey of the Damned kick started the celebrations on the BMO Harris stage from 1-3 p.m.
Whiskey of the Damned is often compared to Dropkick Murphys and Gaelic Storm, but they’re unique in that they combine sounds and inspirations from American punk rock, gypsy, and Irish rock among others. The band is comprised of drummer/vocalist Andrew David Weber, vocalist/bass player Matt Schuetz, vocalist/fiddle/melodica/mandolin player Gina Romantini, vocalist/accordion player Brian Link, and Ireland native vocalist/bagpipes/guitarist Eoin McCarthy, who started the group.
The band has performed at both Irish Fest and Summerfest, and has toured with Dropkick Murphys, but (in a recent interveiw- http://ventwing.com/article/eoin-mccarthy-on-starting-milwaukee-celtic-rock-band-whiskey-of-the-damned?cid=db_articles) on seeing the Harley-Davidson’s anniversary line-up, McCarthy said,
I don’t know if they realize how not as famous as them we are. It’s ridiculous, I swear I’ve looked at the poster for the past two months straight and I read through all the names and there’s Whiskey of the Damned and I’m like, why are we on this thing?! How did they hear about us?
Whiskey of the Damned preceded RX Bandits, Chevy Metal (feat. Dave Grohl), and Dropkick Murphys on the BMO Harris stage. When asked what he hopes people get from their music, McCarthy replied,
I just want people who come to the concerts to almost feel like they’re part of a carnival. I want them to get up and dance and shout and have a great time and come away sweaty with raw hands from clapping to every song.
The show had a small reception, as many bikers and Harley enthusiasts hadn’t arrived on the grounds yet, but this didn’t seem to phase the band. They obviously have a blast performing together with or without a large crowd. They played songs like “Start Wearing Purple”, “Drunken Sailor”, and “Devil’s Parade”, but also included “Folsom Prison Blues” for the celebration. In many ways, Whiskey of the Damned seems like a bunch of old friends having fun on stage, which led to a (seemingly) impromptu performance of the Fraggle Rock theme song and Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”. And, although hands may not have been raw by the end of the set, the audience seemed multiplied by the sounds of applause after each song.
For more information on Whiskey of the Damned, visit www.facebook.com/WhiskeyoftheDamned. For more information on the Harley-Davidson 110th Anniversary Celebration, visit http://110.harley-davidson.com/en_US/events/milwaukee2013.