How far you are from Fenway at any given moment is a constant among Boston residents and visitors to the city. But, more than that, the venerated baseball stadium has become central to the identity of the down trodden, mostly Irish, formerly poor and often working class of the city and of that region. In the 1840’s, when the Irish began to arrive in America, many who were already at an advanced stage of starvation simply dropped to the ground upon arrival. The Irish that survived the voyage located close by, because they could walk no further. In the leanest or in the best of times, Fenway Park has taken on a new meaning, in addition to baseball. In their hearts, it has come to represent the arrival, and survival of the people of Boston. And the Dropkick Murphys have taken on the obligation as their voice.
The name “Dropkick” originated from a primitive sanatorium named for its owner, professional wrestler, John, “Dropkick” Murphy. The group thought the name was cool and became the Dropkick Murphys in 1996. The band has gone through various personnel changes through nearly 25 years. It currently consists of co-lead vocalists, Ken Casey and Al Barr. Backing vocals and rhythm guitar are supplied by James Lynch and Jeff DaRosa, who is also on banjo, mandolin, bouzouki, guitar, keyboard, piano, harmonica and tin whistle. Tim Brennan arrived on the scene in 2003 and was hired to play acoustic piano accordion and mandolin. His resume also included bouzouki, piano, tin whistle and backing vocals. But Tim Brennan’s role has grown as he graduated to a digital FR-3 V-accordion by Roland. The instrument is more successful with the explosive volume and high energy sound of the Dropkick Murphys amplified guitars and drums that would normally drown out even the gutsiest of acoustic piano accordions.
Since the band’s first album, “Do or Die” (1998), the Dropkick Murphys output has been consistent through the years. They followed up with “The Gang’s All Here” (1999), “Sing Loud, Sing Proud!”(2001), “Blackout”(2003), “The Warrior’s Code”(2005), “The Meanest of Times”(2007), “Going out of Style”(2011), “Signed and Sealed in Blood” (2013) and “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory” (2017). But, in 2020, the game was suddenly was changed for everyone by the Covid-19 virus.
Dropkick Murphys are known for their legendary live shows, drawing huge crowds of fans, which naturally kicks off with a series of sold out St. Patrick’s Day concerts in March. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, the events were rescheduled toward the latter part of the year. Then, the band cancelled all of their performances with live audiences for the rest of the year. On May 29, 2020 Dropkick Murphys held a free live streaming event direct from Fenway Park, “Streaming Outta Fenway” which featured special guest, Bruce Springsteen.
After the Coronavirus subsides, the impact of it on lives and deaths will be evaluated for many years to come. Those that emerge from caves and confines, as from the bowels of the ships, will see the new world with different eyes. Just as in the past, survivors will look forward to the Dropkick Murphys to be there to drop kick us all into a whole new brave world.