ON PUNK ROCK AND THE LATE GREAT GEORGE MURRAY
I was 15-years-old and it was the night before my mock irish junior cert exam. My mum let me get the 109 bus from Navan to Dublin to see seminal Irish punk band Striknien DC, who were opening for the UK Subs. It was a thrilling evening and the beginning of my love affair with punk rock. That night I walked up the stairs of the venue (near Pearse Street Dart Station – I forget the name), where I was greeted by Deco from Striknien DC and Charlie Harper – lead singer of the UK Subs hanging – by the merch stall. They were all smiles as they welcomed me to this world.
The energy and warmth I got from songs like ‘Tomorrow’s Girls’ was the antithesis of the studded black leather jackets and piss on the sawdust floor. I jumped around the room and danced beside older punks, and even had a can of beer for good measure. After the gig, Charlie Harper gave me a tutorial on what records to buy the following week. They included The Clash’s London Calling, Stiff Little Fingers’ Inflammable Material and a band called Eater, who did a great Bowie cover.
My parting gift from Charlie was a huge green UK Subs patch, which my mum sewed onto my leather coat the next morning. I still cherish this coat (see photo). As I left the venue on that dark rainy night, Charlie told me he was originally a blues singer. When I mentioned Nirvana he said, “Well, the Nirvana song ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night’ is actually a song by the legendary blues singer Leadbelly.” I scribbled down Leadbelly beside my list of punk bands.
The following week I took my pocket money to the late great George Murray’s record shop in Temple Bar. George stocked my bag with all the punk essentials, throwing in a blues compilation, Woody Guthrie and some American folk singer who also loved Leadbelly – called Bob Dylan.
“If ever you get tired of the punk,” he said, “stick on Bob.” Sure enough I did. Thanks Charlie Harper. Thanks George Murray.
Just a few months ago, I was recording new Lost Brothers material with Steve Shannon in Dublin. During the session I kept thinking, “I’ve met Steve before but I can’t place him.”
At the end of the night, Steve said, “Oh, I used to play in a punk band – we even opened for the UK SUBS. We were called Striknien DC.” Life has an uncanny way of connecting the dots.