Listen to the band chat with Ross fron 12 noon and midnight on Saturday and 6pm on Monday.
There has been a lot of malarkey building in Scappoose, Oregon over the last 20 years and now the Sons of Malarkey are bringing it to the rest of the world.
Coming from a city named Scappoose you have to have a sense of humor and the Sons of Malarkey’s humor is created by the strong friendships between its members. The first spark of what would later become the Sons began with a trip Jason took to Ireland in 2004. His interest in Celtic music became an obsession after a second trip in 2007.
While performing in a duo, Jason started incorporating traditional Irish and Scottish music into their shows which caught the ear of their friends, Josh and Jereb. The three of them decided to form what became the Sons of Malarkey.
The group’s shared sense of humor and location helped determine the name of the band. “We wanted to go by the Malarkeys but it was already taken. Someone threw out the Sons of Malarkey and we felt it had a good Irish feel plus it’s a bit silly and that’s what we were looking for.” Jason continued, “Plus, there’s a Malarkey Lake and Malarkey Ranch out here in Scappoose.”
As the newly formed band began to find their sound, their influences from groups such as the Dubliners, the Pogues, Christie Moore, the Waterboys, the Young Dubliners, and Gaelic Storm created a desire for a fuller sound.
“We wanted to start playing pubs and rocking out a bit more so we contacted our old friend Dave”, who Jason has known for 20 years. Dave brought his passion for music to the Sons and blended in his Americana feel.
The Sons began fine-tuning their strong harmonies and incorporating detail dynamics within classic, fun pub songs while introducing audiences to more obscure songs. “A lot of these folk songs deal with tragedies or a longing for times past which are very universal feelings. We also look for more emotional lyrics like in Galway Bay (Francis Fahy version) or Ordinary Man.”
The Son’s first big break came when they were invited to perform at Sixty Seven Music’s Anniversary Party in Portland. This resulted in an ongoing friendship with Sixty Seven Music (67music.net) who has graciously continued to promote the Sons of Malarkey.
Jason’s brother Nathan, who had been playing accordion, had to leave the band and the Sons started looking for that “final piece to the puzzle.” Josh introduced them to one of his friends, a 20 year old classically trained fiddler named Tatijanna. “She had never played Celtic music before but was a fast learner.” Two months after joining the band, she was on-stage with the Sons at the 2010 Galway Bay Celtic Music Festival as they performed in front of hundreds of fans throughout the weekend.
“I had never played in front of so many people,” Jason remembers. “It was so awesome to hear so many other bands versions of Irish music. I remember being a little nervous before the “Battle of the Battles” because the other band, Maggie’s Fury, had been playing together for nine years whereas we were very new on the scene.” However, the Sons of Malarkey had nothing to worry about as the audience loved their music. “That’s when I knew we were heading in the right direction.”
With so many Celtic bands out there, what is it about the Sons of Malarkey that audiences latch onto? Most noticeably is the interaction between the band members. “We didn’t want to place an ad on Craigslist for members or just find someone by word of mouth. One of the most important things about our group is that we’re friends first and a band second.” That friendship translates into their fun, upbeat shows where their rocked-up versions of traditional Celtic folk songs are blended with other World music genres and incorporate a variety of instruments such as guitar, banjo, mandolin, tin whistles, harmonica, steel guitar, bass, drums, fiddle and accordion. “We have all played in various styles of rock, grunge, synth, pop, and electronic. We want to play the music we love with the people we love. For a few hours each night, we want the audience to feel the happiness we do while we’re playing.”