ON PUNK ROCK AND THE LATE GREAT GE­ORGE MUR­RAY

Hot Press - - Mad Hatter -

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.

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