Electric Celtic

Cleveland’s Mary’s Lane’s unique style
at Dublin Pub

Mary’s Lane (l-r) Tessa Thistlewaite, Patrick Mulloy, Brent Hopper, Matt Sofranko,     Michael Crawly, Mark Whalen

By Gary Spencer

Cleveland has a long, varied, and storied history of the annals of rock history. Everyone from The Moonglows to James Gang to The Raspberries to The Dead Boys to Dazz Band to Pere Ubu to Nine Inch Nails to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to Mushroomhead to Mr. Gnome are all world-renowned artists that have provided evidence to Ian Hunter’s famous proclamation that “Cleveland rocks.” And the Cleveland lineage of innovative rock music continues in the form of Mary’s Lane, an Irish-American rock band that thwarts the stereotypes of the style by avoiding the all-too-common hallmarks of making music to simply jig to or weighing themselves down by performing sea chanty tunes to drink one-too-many bottles of Guiness. Instead, Mary’s Lane is a band that writes music that focuses on substance more so than style, with memorable and varied songs equally influenced by rock, folk and country music from the past 50 years as well as by their Irish and Celtic roots.

“It’s rock and roll soaked in shamrock juice,” vocalist and guitarist Patrick Mulloy says of Mary’s Lane’s music.
“Our musical style is similar to any immigrant’s journey to America—many of the traditional customs mixed with elements of your new homeland. Irish music helped birth country music in America and I think you can see the parallels to this day and its huge popularity. The music is the perfect mixture of comfort and energy that just hits the heart immediately—an accessible music that people of all backgrounds can easily relate to.”

Listening to the music of Mary’s Lane, amid the bagpipes, mandolin, and other mainstays of any Irish-Celtic influenced band, one can easily hear multiple styles of music being blended together in a surprisingly cohesive and effective manner. Perhaps the band’s ability to seamlessly weave in seemingly disparate musical elements along with the tried and true Irish and Celtic styles comes in part from the band’s diverse musical experiences prior to the formation of their current band.

“We have four different singer/songwriters in the band with very diverse backgrounds in music from classically trained to self taught players, honky tonk to punk rock, to former coffee house performers,” Mulloy elaborates. “One of us may come to the table with a song that probably is best suited for the country genre or a catchy pop tune. We have evolved from humble beginnings of mainly acoustic-driven music to turning up the amps, getting out the electric guitars, and rocking into what I would say is almost a jam-bandy, indie Grateful Dead vibe at times. Some probably think … ‘but you’re a Celtic Rock band you can’t do that!’ Yes, we may be a Celtic Rock band with an identity crisis, and I think we’re okay with that.”

While the musical breadth of Mary’s Lane may have come naturally, Mulloy contends that standing out from their Irish-Celtic music contemporaries has always been part of the band’s mission.

“I’ve always wanted us to be the band on the Irish circuit that reaches for more creatively,” Mulloy says. “Cookie cutter is not our style. I really think that makes us different than the bands only writing the ‘whiskey, whiskey, whiskey’ songs. Don’t get me wrong, we do our fair share of that and enjoy it as much as the next fella, but we really want to avoid pandering the audience to death. I grew up at Irish festivals and from a young age started to tell the difference between the bands actually connecting to the Celtic culture beautifully through song, and the bands running the dog and pony shows.”

Mary’s Lane’s distinctive and contemporary take on the centuries old Irish and Celtic genres has earned the group oodles of critical acclaim in Ohio and beyond, as well as a number of distinguished appearances at Irish festivals both stateside and across the pond. However, it appears that Mary’s Lane’s continued popularity is founded not just on the music itself, but also for the band’s lighthearted, high-energy and inclusive live show that has earned them fans of all ages listening to the same variety of music that Mary’s Lane themselves whole heartedly embrace.

“I think we are more wild on stage than on our records,” Mulloy says. “I have always lived by one rule when it comes to live performance—the audience should NEVER feel bored. As a teenager going to, God knows how many shows, in the late ‘90s and 2000s, I would get off on watching lively bands—didn’t matter what genre—as long as it was great. We have an amazing comedic element as well. We can banter back and forth like an old married couple and try to get the crowd to feel as they are part of our family.”

And while Mary’s Lane gets thrills performing for thousands of people at Irish festivals here and abroad, the band is equally excited to return to Dayton’s Dublin Pub for what’s sure to be a slam dunk good time.

“This place is amazing—if you haven’t been there yet you’re really missing out on a true Irish pub,” says Mulloy. “We plan on rocking hard and are super excited to come back.”

Mary’s Lane will perform this coming Friday, Jan. 5 and Saturday, Jan. 6 from 8-11:30 p.m. at the Dublin Pub, 300 Wayne Avenue in Dayton. For more information, please visit www.DubPub.com

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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