By Michael Cerio
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia was all things Irish this weekend.
After the Erin Express buses shuttled drinkers clad in beads and hats from bar to bar on Saturday, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade wound its way down the Parkway on Sunday. All of this served as the perfect opening act for the sterling Celtic sounds of Dropkick Murphys, who would close out the weekend’s pre-St. Pat’s festivities with at set at Electric Factory on Sunday night.
For twenty years the band of South Boston punk purveyors has been building a coalition across the country, and show no signs of slowing. “A lot of bands when they’re around two decades, maybe there’s an album that dipped, maybe they went away for a while – we’ve toured consistently for twenty years” explains bassist, singer, and Dropkick Murphys founding member Ken Casey before their show. “It’s been on a slow but consistent incline, not decline, not flattened out. They just continue to amaze me.”
They would be the fans, and this tour celebrating the twenty year mark is very much a thank you to them. It’s a connection and relationship that has allowed Dropkick Murphys to endure and grow over two decades, and it’s a bond that’s louder here in Philadelphia than almost anywhere else in the country.
In 2009, Casey created the Claddagh Fund as a way to mobilize that support for charity. Created in their hometown of Boston, Claddagh Fund aimed to impact underfunded non-profits on the community level for the most vulnerable among us – like children, veterans, and those suffering with addiction. When the time came to grow the fund to another city, Philadelphia was the easy choice.
“The band’s fans are very incorporated in what we do to raise money. It’s going great in Boston and people would be like oh, we’d like to help down here” says Casey. “Philly was where we got the most feedback of that.”
“I was inspired by the reaction we were getting from the people of Philadelphia. They’re just like Boston people, you know, good people who like to help their own and we like that” Casey describes. “It’s definitely bonded me more to Philly and made me feel that Philly is definitely more like Boston than I even ever thought it was.”
Since 2011 Claddagh Fund has been here in Philadelphia, working on the neighborhood level on efforts like building playgrounds and helping homeless kids. “Stay small and give it to the other small guys” Casey says of Claddagh Fund. “More than anything, anybody can give money, and that’s so appreciated, but when somebody is willing to give their time that really motivates me.”
Between his work with the fund and their set at Electric Factory, Casey and Dropkick Murphys kept busy during their Philadelphia visit. They did however still find time to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“We walked the whole thing start to finish” says Casey. “Most of the kids seemed to be afraid of us. They didn’t want to high-five us” he laughs.
To hear more from Ken Casey of Dropkick Murphys, check out the full interview below.