Flogging Molly: St. Patty's Coming to Town

People call it Celtic punk, but what Flogging Molly brings to the stage really defies the idea of any sort of conventional label. And while there was a time when this Los Angeles-based seven-piece was being written off by many as "just a bar band," incapable of any real mainstream success, its commitment to the music has proven the naysayers wrong. Laughably wrong.

In fact, in January of 2012, Flogging Molly's multi-instrumentalist, Bob Schmidt, was recognized by Fender for his contributions to music with his very own signature model mandolin.

"I don't think of myself as any kind of virtuoso by a long shot, but to have any accomplishment you've done recognized by a company like Fender is definitely an 'I am not worthy' moment," Schmidt said. "It was definitely a very flattering thing."

Another 2012 milestone was the release of group's live album, Live at the Greek Theatre, on vinyl – music format the band treasures.

"We've always pressed everything on vinyl from the get go. We've all been vinyl fans since we were kids," Schmidt said. "On a good system, it just sounds better. From an engineering or technical standpoint, it's closer to reproducing an acoustic waveform in space than a CD or digital file."

But it's not just the sound of the record; it's the experience.

"I also think it changes the nature of the beast," Schmidt said. "It forces you into a one-on-one relationship with the album. You can't just jump around the album like you can on your iPod. Records still force you into a personal space interaction with music, and that's a good thing."

A personal space interaction is exactly what Flogging Molly aims to bring on its 9th Annual Green 17 Tour, which will make its very first stop right here in Grand Rapids.

"Due to limits in the space time continuum, we can't be everywhere on St. Patrick's Day, so we bring St. Patrick's Day to you," Schmidt said. "We take the tone and energy of that one fun night that everybody gets to have and do that for the entire tour."

Shipping Off to Drunken Lullabies: Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphys?
The '80s had The Pogues, we have Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys to fill the Celtic-punk genre. But the two bands often get confused.

Which came first?
Dropkick Murphys formed in 1996 and released its first studio album in 1998. Flogging Molly formed in 1997 and released its first studio album in 2000.

Who's the most Irish?
It depends. Flogging Molly has a founding member who was born in Ireland. Other original members' homes include Michigan and the United Kingdom. Dropkick Murphys' original members come from Massachusetts, which is known for its Irish population.

Best-known song:
Dropkick Murphys' 2005 hit "I'm Shipping Up to Boston." Flogging Molly's 2002 Gold-certified "Drunken Lullabies."

So, how do I tell the difference?
While both bands are categorized as Celtic punk and have lyrics about drinking and the working class, you can hear more traditional Celtic folk on Flogging Molly records, along with the band's Johnny Cash influence. (Check out "Factory Girls," the band's track with folk icon Lucinda Williams.) Also, if the band is singing about Boston, it's a Dropkick Murphys tune.

Where you've heard 'em: Movies and TV shows with Flogging Molly tunes
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
P.S. I Love You
"The Shield"
Leap Year
"SGU Stargate Universe"

Additional reporting by Lindsay Patton-Carson.