It was a foot-stomping good time at the Blue Lamp on Saturday, Dec. 17 when a crowd of about 50 gathered together to seek refuge from the cold and watch local musicians Alex Dorame, Whiskey and Stitches and City of Vain perform. And what better way to fight the cold than dancing, right?
But, there was another reason to celebrate: Rick Barton, the original guitarist from Dropkick Murphys was there with his new band, Continental.
Dorame was the first to get on stage, and he played an acoustic set for the intimate crowd.
Continental drummer Tommy Mazalewski was impressed with Dorame’s acoustic set.
“Sometimes I get a little uneasy with an acoustic guitar and a solo gig, but I really liked it,” Mazalewski said.Whiskey and Stitches, who describe their sound as “non-traditional traditional Irish American flavored rock and roll goodness,”have gotten used to their label as a punk band.
“We’re surprised we won the Sammies for the best punk band,” said James Wilson, who plays multiple instruments for the band. “We didn’t put ourselves in that category, and we don’t know exactly how that happened, but we appreciate it.”
Wilson, who played the tin whistle, button accordion and the electric and acoustic mandolin, reported that even though he had a little trouble with the mandolin, the sound was great.
Whiskey and Stitches frontman Mike McCarrick added that not only was the sound great, but so were the fans.
“We were on and the fans were fantastic,” McCarrick said.
McCarrick and Wilson agreed that the brotherly love that emanated from them on stage continues while they are off stage, as well.
“We’ve been together for four or five years, so we’re getting to the point where we can pretty much feel each other out,” McCarrick said.Next on stage was City of Vain, a punk band that has only been together for about a year but has already built some fan base. They picked up the pace with faster and heavier punk rock and got the crowd dancing.
Adam Price, who is a Target employee by day and music enthusiast by night, has been a fan of City of Vain since they started, and he had one word to say about their performance.
“They did awesome, awesome.”
Keyboardist Minh Quan has been with the band for about six months, and while he started as a back-up for the guitarist when he broke his band, he is now a permanent fixture.
“We have a good rapport going, and we’re really grateful for that,” Quan said.Finally, Continental returned to the last stage they played in Sacramento, when they were here in 2008. Barton got on stage and in his heavy Boston accent, he asked the crowd, “It’s a great night for rock and roll, right?”
By this time, several of the audience members decided they had enough punk rock for their night and had left the venue, but that didn’t bother Barton at all.
“I wouldn’t care if all of you left, and only (Mike) stayed here,” he said with a laugh.
Barton explained that he loves to create music and he loves to record, but he has never gotten completely comfortable on stage.
“I like writing, I like driving the van, I like hanging out with the guys. My least favorite thing is probably being on the stage,” Barton said. “It’s nerve-wracking because I’ve never been the front of the band. I’m learning more and more.”
Luckily for Barton, his band is his family, literally. Barton plays alongside his son, Stephen, who plays bass. Mazalewski reported that it was actually Stephen who gave his dad the idea to start Continental.
“(Rick) wasn’t interested in starting a full touring band, but he had written all these songs that weren’t like any other songs he wrote before,” Mazalewski said. “(Stephen) told him to put together a band, so that’s what they did.”
Mazalewski joined Continental two years ago and this was his first time playing in Sacramento so he was interested in the variation of music styles.
“I really like the show tonight because it’s all under the umbrella of punk rock, but it’s not just punk rock – it’s a lot of different styles,” Mazalewski said. “We’re out by ourselves for the first time not supporting anyone, and every night we play with different bands. It’s nice to get fresh music.”
Editorial Note: A spelling correction has been made to this article after it was published.