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Whiskey and Stitches: Celtic tunes in Sacramento

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Playing a fusion of traditional Irish music with a mix of bluegrass sensibilities and punk timing, local band Whiskey and Stitches will play at the Fox and Goose Public House on St. Patrick’s Day.

With influences including Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly and The Pogues, some might expect to find Whiskey and Stitches composed of hard-drinking rogues, but guitarist and vocalist Mike McCarrick, 40, said that’s not the case.

“The ability to play a song and pull it off when you’re absolutely hammered – it’s great in theory, but in reality it doesn’t work,” he said. “You forget the song and the words and the chords.”

McCarrick’s day job is as a coding specialist for Sutter Health, mandolin player James Wilson is a professor at Cosumnes River College and drummer Jay Raney is a nuclear medicine technician. Rounding out the band are bassist and vocalist Kurt Jourdan; guitarist, bassist and vocalist Joy Stern; and pianist, vocalist and harmonicist Steve Mooreweathers.

Having serious day jobs doesn’t stop the band members from loving beer and whiskey, and the name recalls nights spent with drink in hand.

“Whiskey and Stitches? We figure that one usually follows the other,” McCarrick said. “All of us have had nights where we just drank way too much and woke up in the morning with something wrong with us.”

Coming out of the breakup of another local band, McCarrick and Wilson started Whiskey and Stitches about three years ago, and McCarrick attributed the popularity of Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly to giving the style legitimacy.

Whiskey and Stitches generally plays local shows, McCarrick said, and the band has played at most local venues, with the exception of Power Balance Pavilion and Memorial Auditorium.

For St. Patrick’s Day, the band will play in the warehouse contained within the Fox and Goose Public House, located at 10th and R streets.

“It’s going to be huge, because they’ve got the warehouse opened up for us, and there’s going to be a huge bash in the restaurant,” McCarrick said.

Fox and Goose General Manager Mark Cox said Whiskey and Stitches will join another Celtic band, Griffin, for the show.

“They’ve performed here before, and they are a traditional Irish band, and they are very talented,” Cox said about Whiskey and Stitches. “They’re well-known, and they’re a great fit for the Fox and Goose.”

In addition to the music, Fox and Goose will serve traditional Irish food, including corned beef and cabbage, corned beef sandwiches, and Irish lamb stew.

A cover charge will start at $2 at 4 p.m. and incrementally increase to $10 at about 8 or 9 p.m..

McCarrick said the food is a big part of St. Patrick’s Day in his own familial traditions, and he described the holiday as his favorite.

“Personally, it’s like my Christmas and Easter,” he said. “I grew up with all the traditions and hearing stories from my grandfather, (who came from Ireland).”

Traditions included having a meal of corned beef and cabbage with his grandmother’s soda bread, and there was always Guinness beer and Jameson Irish Whiskey.

“I cringe at the thought of this, but my mother would always get me Lucky Charms (on the holiday),” he added with a laugh.

The band is not actively seeking a record label, and McCarrick said the members are happy to identify as Californians, not taking sides on the 20th century’s rift between Catholics and Protestants commonly known as “The Troubles.”

“We don’t have a dog in the fight,” he said. “It was relevant 30 to 40 years ago. Since then, people have grown up and realized the best way to solve problems is to talk about them.”

In the past, Whiskey and Stitches has opened for The Young Dubliners and Rick Barton, the original guitarist for Dropkick Murphys. In May, the band will open for The Real McKenzies at Ace of Spades.

Whiskey and Stitches won best punk band at the 2011 Sammies.

For more information about Whiskey and Stitches, click here to visit the band’s Facebook page.

“We don’t just play Irish music,” McCarrick said. “We have elements of bluegrass, Americana and country, but we typically play it all super fast – we’ll get your asses moving.”

Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Darnell.

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