Bill Grogan's Goat
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Bill Grogan's Goat

Warren, Michigan, United States | INDIE

Warren, Michigan, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Celtic

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"Metro Times Live Show Blog"

There probably isn’t such a thing as a bad time to see Bill Grogan’s Goat, but on a freezing January Thursday night in Corktown, at PJ’s Lager House, they’re just about perfect.

It’s tough to point out exactly why. Maybe it’s because we know that Ireland and Scotland are far from the warmest of places on Earth, so a good dose of Celtic rock on a cold evening feels authentic. Or perhaps it’s because you can’t help but dance to this stuff, or at least tap your feet, and that warms you up. Regardless, there are few better at this sort of stuff than the Goat.



By the way, that little record store in the Lager House basement is a neat idea. Being able to flick through old vinyl before and after band’s sets is this writer’s idea of heaven.

So the Goat wail, moan, hoot and holler through tunes from both of their albums. Gerard Smith has a cracked, pained voice ideal for these songs. He sounds like he personally fought off the English (none taken, btw), he toiled on farmland, and he lost a million loves. Special mention also goes to multi-instrumentalist Mindy Whalen for making the switch from bagpipes to Irish tin whistle look effortless.

By the time they get to their reimagined, stoner-prog take on “Danny Boy”, the winds are blowing colder but the heart is warmer.
- Detroit Metro Times


"Bill Grogan's Goat Metro Times Feature"

City Slang
Beyond St. Patrick's Day
'Danny Boy' meets prog in Bill Grogan's Goat

By Brett Callwood
Published: August 8, 2012

Bill Grogan's Goat plays Small's on Saturday, Aug. 11, with the Streetwalking Cheetahs and Coven 13, at 10339 Conant, Hamtramck; 313-873-1117. The Second Wind album is out now via Beagletone Records.

The problem that faces most Irish- and Celtic-themed bands outside of, well, Ireland and Scotland (and Boston) is that, outside of the one week surrounding St. Patrick's Day, the music can sound curiously out of place, much like listening to Christmas carols in spring.
Of course, that is the view of the casual listener. For others, Irish and Celtic music is a way of life. Bands like the Dubliners, the Pogues, the Proclaimers and, later, the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly dragged Celtic folk toward rock and punk audiences with great success.

Those bands held onto the authenticity of the music — specifically the lyrics — while beefing up the sound courtesy of electric instruments. Purists might see this as blasphemy, while the open-minded can enjoy the progression.

Bill Grogan's Goat is one such band, deftly merging progressive hard rock with Irish, Scottish and English folk and emerging with something that is both stomp-heavy and intricate. The band of fortysomethings is made up of regular looking peeps, though there's a sparkle behind all of their eyes that suggests that, given the right circumstances, the hard-drinking days aren't quite behind them yet.

The band members are Mindy Whalen (fiddle, whistle, highland pipes, vocals), Gerard Smith (vocals, mandolin, guitar, banjo, bouzouki, bodhrán), Jude Closson (drums), Norman Rosenbaum (guitar) and Matt Twomey (bass). Smith and Closson previously played around town together in a "funky hardcore" band called Kuru in the mid-to-late '80s. When that was done, Smith decided that he wanted to play music that he could create by himself, which led to his discovery of Celtic and English folk. A few solo albums later, and he reunited with Closson and pulled in Rosenbaum, and Bill Grogan's Goat was born. Whalen and Twomey came along a little later.

Sonically, the Goat mix traditional Celtic music with prog metal a la Tool and Porcupine Tree, the first wave punk of the Pistols and the Buzzcocks, Irish rock like Thin Lizzy and Scottish rock like the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. It's a heady brew.

So where the hell does that awesome band name come from? "There's an old American folk song of that name about a guy named Bill Grogan who had a goat that ate his red shirt," Smith says. "Bill gets pissed off at him and ties him to a railroad track and as the train's coming down the track the goat coughs up the shirt which flags down the train and everybody lives happily ever after. My granddad used to sing it to me. It's a very funny song."

The interview takes place at the Berkley Front, a convenient meeting point for the band members, most of whom are based around Royal Oak and Ferndale. He might deny it, but Smith is the natural leader here. Regarding the band's sound, "The original concept was to deconstruct traditional music and reconstruct it as something else," he says. "Usually that happens, by taking these old songs and practicing them. Mindy's got a good background in instrumental music from being in a pipe band. I've been playing Irish, Scottish and English music for 20 years. Sometimes, once we started to practice the song, some other form of rock will progress itself into the song. One of the songs became a Latin clave, for example. Whatever suggests itself through working on the song."

While Twomey is second-generation Irish, the band's fascination with Britain and Ireland comes from afar. "I think before I came along, almost everything was Irish and I brought in Scottish," Whalen says. "We visited the family farm 15 years ago, and I was raised on Clancy Brothers or, as my grandpa called it, rebel music," Twomey says. "My mom would make me play music and then give me a whole history lesson on it, when I just wanted to watch TV."

Bill Grogan's Goat plays an annual show on Parade Day at PJ's Lager House, and the band members agree that the show is usually the highlight of the year. However, they don't want to be seen as a "holiday band," and they shouldn't.

"I came from a trad background, and everything we do is not like what anybody else did," Whalen says. "A lot of Celtic rock bands you can listen to and hear the versions done very similarly by other bands. I've never heard anybody do 'Danny Boy' the way we do it."

Ahhh, but they do "Danny Boy." Bit of a cliché? "We're a 95-percent cover band," Twomey says. "We do 'Danny Boy,' we do the & - Detroit Metro Times


"Bill Grogan's Goat: Second Wind review"

The skirl of the pipes opening this album may suggest a lonely loch
somewhere, but in fact emanate from Detroit, a place so firmly associated with Motown that it comes as a surprise to realise that the Motor City has a small but thriving folk-rock scene. The second album from Bill Grogan’s Goat is an enjoyable but relatively straight-forward affair that turbo-charges a lively set of venerable tunes with a punky, high-speed ethic that suggests The Pogues are also popular in downtown Detroit.
There’s a rascally playfulness in the rocked-up Drunken Sailor, whose
frantic see-saw rhythm would definitely induce a bit of sea-sickness
in the hapless mariner. Greenwood Sidee begins ala Bo Diddley, before
falling into a rollicking version that’s reminiscent in places of late 60s US
psych-folk rockers, Kaleidoscope. Aside from a misguidedly plodding cod-metal Danny Boy, it’s mostly all jolly fare to be sure. One imagines it’d be brilliant in a bar where the Guinness is flowing.
- PROG Magazine


"Bill Grogan's Goat debut album review"

Artist: Bill Grogan’s Goat
Album: Bill Grogan’s Goat
Year produced: 2007

This album isn’t for the faint of heart. Full of style and energy, Bill Grogan’s Goat manages to bring their own spin to traditional Irish music in a way that is sure to please those who enjoy high-energy music. There are a wide range of tracks here, and the CD is quite fun to listen to. Some songs here hover at about 3 minutes, and there is a track that goes on for over 17. Take in unique versions of favorites such as “Whiskey in the Jar” and “Black Velvet Band” and be sure to stick around for the hidden track at the end for an additional surprise.

These five Detroit musicians are adept at playing their instruments and the delivery here is polished and professional without being overly produced. The feel of the arrangements is new and different though, giving them a sound that is quite unlike your average Celtic band. These guys have something new to say–and play–and they are definitely worth a listen. And you won’t feel cheated since there are plenty of tracks to kick back and soak up.

If you’re looking for a high-energy, Celtic rock band that isn’t afraid to take on traditional Celtic and folk tunes by reinventing them and adding a bit of rock n’ roll to the tunes, then Bill Grogan’s Goat is the band you’ve been seeking. The diversity of the musicians that make up this band is what makes this new spin on Irish music so do-able. And the best part is…it’s done well!

Bill Grogan’s goat is a combination of bass, drums, guitars as well as traditional Irish bouzouki, tin whistle, mandolin, and five-string banjo. This is an exciting alternative to the average rock band as well as the growing legion of Celtic rock bands that are around today. - Celtic Music Magazine


"Bill Grogan's Goat debut album review (2012)"

Hang on to your hats as this CD starts spinning. And do not expect a traditional rendition of "The Wild Rover," as this guy is roving on speed.

The band Bill Grogan's Goat shows its love of the genre and professionalism as matters settle down a bit for some more sauntering on "As I Roved Out."

I was intrigued by the intro on the wonderful "Three Drunken Maidens," that old English folk song stolen centuries ago and sold as Irish. The lads do not disappoint in the rest of the delivery and give us a lovely song.

Poor auld Percy French would never recognise his "Little Brigid Flynn" in her new folk-rock finery, but a new generation does get a chance to discover him as a writer with this band as interpreters. Few of the Riverdance crew would even attempt to dance to "Horn Pipeline" when the "Boys of Blue Hill" take off at breakneck speed. I can see this as a concert track having people dancing in the aisles.

Listening to this album the first time is a voyage of discovery and maybe a bit of apprehension. We look at that lovely old track listing and then wait for the first few bars to find out how the Goat will deliver it. "The Black Velvet Band" sticks fairly much to its usual arrangement and is a joy.

The Black & Tans would never come out if presented by the wall of sound that this band gives to Dominic Behan's stirring song. "Star of the County Down" has been around for ages. Every young lad in Ireland learned -- and often hated -- it as part of singing classes with the Christian Brothers. Then Van Morrison made it cool. This version is equally good and may redeem it again in those once-young singers' minds. "Whiskey in the Jar" is well shaken before they relax -- a little -- for "The Banks of the Roses."

This is not an album for your purist uncle or granny, but if you know a young person who thinks Irish music is boring, here is the antidote.

by Nicky Rossiter
Rambles.NET
25 February 2012 - Rambles.net


"Bill Grogan's Goat debut album review (2007)"

Bill Grogan's Goat,
Bill Grogan's Goat
(Sounds of Seamus, 2007)
When the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem invented a style of Irish-music presentation in the 1950s, they built a bridge between the nation's rural singing traditions and the world's popular culture. Known variously as "pub singers" and "ballad groups," CB&TM and those who followed them -- most famously, the Dubliners -- provided elemental instrumental backing plus a repertoire of songs to which bar, club and concert-hall audiences could easily sing along, with hooky choruses, driving arrangements and appealing if uncomplicated harmonies.

From the 1970s onwards, popular Irish folk music evolved into the Celtic-music movement, which fused the pub style's emphasis on songs and vocals to the often intricate instrumental styles rooted in the countryside.

Irish pub music never has died out, though for a time it was disdained (not entirely fairly) as hopelessly square. In the 1980s the Pogues used it as the basis for a wild, rhythmic folk-punk-rock, which took the likes of "The Irish Rover" to startlingly unexpected places, yet without ever really betraying their fundamental character. Since then, a Pogues-flavored Celtic rock movement has planted its flag on the far margins of the rock and folk scenes. Thus, the Detroit-based Bill Grogan's Goat, which consists of five players with experience of playing just about every style of music in their native city.

The original "Bill Grogan's Goat" was a comic American folk song, not to be found on this disc, which opens with the standard "Wild Rover." It's done at rousing pub tempo, not as the gloomy, angry slow ballad -- the doubtless more "authentic" one -- that some Anglo-Celtic singers prefer. This "Wild Rover," awash in crunchy chords and feedback, gives one the impression of a harder sound than in fact the listener encounters thereafter. What one hears is undeniably guitar rock (with some Irish instruments buried in the mix) as performed by experienced practitioners, but those gorgeous melodies remain splendidly attired even if the garb is nontraditional. One does not get the impression that the guys of BGG are slumming or putting out some novelty exercise; they love the music, and they clearly have a feeling for it.

If the 13 cuts are overwhelmingly familiar ones, they're nonetheless welcome in these ears. "Black Velvet Band," "Star of the Country Down," "Whiskey in the Jar" and their like can be done badly, but even delivered with minimal competence, their lyrics and melodies are so rich that they ordinarily stand on their own. BGG delivers them with rather more than merely passable skill. I am particularly drawn to the few songs not heretofore known to me (e.g., Dominic Behan's "Come Out, Ye Black & Tans"), but everything here is pretty much guaranteed to provide satisfaction. BGB manages a nice balance of the tried-and-true and the new, and in the process attests to the enduring charm of a body of songs that only the most cynical would dismiss as chestnuts.

- Rambles.net


"Bill Grogan's Goat : Second Wind"

Bill Grogan’s Goat: Second Wind
By Mustard Finnegan on January 25th, 2012 at 1:56 pm
Posted In: CD Review
Looks can be deceptive. Looking at the band picture on the back side of the Second Wind sleeve (the 2nd album no less), Bill Grogan’s Goat (apologies to the band) look like a middle-aged folk rock band permanently stuck playing the Sunday opening spot of some poorly attended, Irish festive in some middle of nowhere, mid-Western state – the track list (all standards) doesn’t take away from the assumption. The music? We’ll its all that but just louder, faster and dirtier and more Motor City guitar riffs then you could ever imagine Irish folk to be. Iggy and The Stooges meets The Clancy’s Brothers and its good and at times skull crushing amazing – the version of Danny Boy is my song of the year so far – post grunge, industrial with a riff and tone that would make Tony Iommi proud. Kick out the jams Paddy Rockers.
- Shite 'n' Onions


Discography

Bill Grogan's Goat (Debut album)
Second Wind

Photos

Bio

Bill Grogans Goat combines solid Detroit rock with traditional Celtic melodies to produce a truly unique sound, tightly combining traditional songs with reels, jigs, and hornpipes at a pace that will challenge the Lord of the Dance himself.

Highland pipes, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, bouzouki, and penny whistle, accompanied by rock and roll bass, guitar, and drums, breathe new life into time-honored songs of love, war and whiskey.

Over the span of their musical careers the five have covered musical styles ranging from symphonic band music to hardcore punk rock, from solo Irish ballad singing to avant garde Jazz. All these influences come together to bring a fresh approach to classic Irish folk music.

Band Members