I’ve never been much of a drinker. Sure, in my rebellious teenage years I was known to imbibe a few adult beverages on the weekends. But on the whole, it’s safe to bet Marie Osmond has been drunk more times than I have. That said, after listening to the new release from Celtic-rockers The Pourmen titled Too Old To Die Young, I’m suddenly overtaken with an overwhelming urge to drink my weight in Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale while running naked up and down Westminster Street, stopping only to instigate a few bar brawls and refuel on Guinness Extra Stout!
Lest there be any confusion, The Pourmen are NOT your father’s St. Paddy’s Day pub act. Led by singer and mandolin player Rick Bennet, this New Bedford-based quintet combines elements of the familiar sounds of traditional Irish Celtic, country, folk and bluegrass music, with an energy and attitude synonymous with punk and greasy balls-out rock ‘n’ roll! Barely a year old, this nascent act has already made waves around the New England live circuit, appearing at major area events like the New Bedford Folk Festival and the Barnstable County Fairgrounds, as well as opening for nationals like The Mahones and Continental (featuring Dropkick Murphys founding member Rick Barton).
The Pourmen consist of Jeff Shaw (fiddle, mandolin), Alex Platt (guitars), Tom Dube (bass banjo), Mike Bobrowiecki (cocktail drumset) and the aforementioned frontman Rick Bennet. The material on their latest CD Too Old To Die Young pulls constantly from their Irish folk roots, but injects a great deal of attitude and off-beat humor, which elevates the style to something uniquely their own. The kickoff track “Hellbound” is musically what you’d expect from a modern Celtic rock act: a jaunty two-step rhythm replete with mandolin and fiddle. But it’s the lyrical content that truly illustrates precisely what The Pourmen are all about. “I’ve tried so hard to give up all the booze and drugs and sin. I’ll never win. I’ll never shake this trouble that I’m in … I love this life and I don’t see no point in walking toward the light. I’ve come too far for a cheap cigar so light up that Rocky Patel. I’ll never get to Heaven so I’ll raise a little Hell.”
The band revisits this fast living, hard drinking theme on “What Did I Drink Last Night?” The song barrels along almost like an Irish version of Johnny Cash’s “Cocaine Blues,” except, of course, for that hint of a brogue in Bennet’s vocal delivery. “Well I jumped into my trousers and I headed to the street, in the middle of Dorchester, no shoes on my feet. My left eye was all swollen and I think I’m missing teeth. Tell me what did I drink last night?”
There are so many standout tracks on Too Old To Die Young it’s almost impossible to pick out just a few plum highlights. There’s the rockabilly-tinged “Irish Girl” which, though admittedly varying a bit from their Celtic style, nevertheless contains every drop of The Pourmen’s biting, 90-proof humor: “Met her in the fifth grade, tried to kiss her in the hall. She turned around and smiled and kicked me in the balls – Irish Girl, she knows how fight – Irish Girl, her mother’s taught her right, and now she rocks my world, yeah you and me Irish Girl!”
There’s no doubt in my mind that The Pourmen are brilliant musicians and songwriters, who seemlessly encapsulate all the trappings of the fast living, hard-drinking, rabble-rousing Derry culture into song with as much integrity and skill as U2 did in embodying the politically volatile side of Irish society into theirs. The difference is The Pourmen are a helluva lot more fun! Grab a copy of Too Old To Die Young, pull a proper pint of Guinness, and whatever you do, don’t wait until March 17 to experience this superb band!