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"O'Tasty @ Iota on 3/17/08"

The inhabitants of Washington, DC, have plenty of Irish bars in which to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Some of the bigger pubs, such as my beloved Ireland’s Four Fields in Cleveland Park, convert themselves into rapidfire drinking houses, where the maximum number of people are intended to cram into the walls of the bar, which has been stripped bare save for the stage where a procession of Irish rock and folk musicians will play for a portion of the $10-$20 cover.

Thankfully, there are saner ways to enjoy a bit of Irish mayhem, and one of those options presented itself in the form of O’Tasty, a DC Celtic punk band performing last night at Iota in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, Va. Now the raucous members of O’Tasty may not think of themselves as the more civilized option for observing St. Pats as they rock out, drink lots of beer and swear copiously as they call down Celtic Thunder with a mix of amped up Irish folk favorites, covers of The Pogues, and their own compositions.

The relatively large band leaps energetically through its Irish offerings with a mandolin, fiddle, guitar, drum and piccolo as frontman James O’Brien gruffly sings his way through their catalog with swagger so authentic you would swear you were on the set of a movie about a raucous Irish band covering traditional favorites for your pleasure in a seedy Dublin bar.

O’Tasty appear to have an aversion to the local DC pubs, however, and their next gig is at none other than DC9 next month. Throw back a few of the bar’s cans of Guinness and enjoy the lighthearted debauchery if you get the chance!

- The D-Scene: Out and About in DC

"Punk O' The Irish"

A fun-loving Irish rock band comes to Arlington for St. Patrick’s Day.

By David Schultz/The Connection
Tuesday, March 11, 2008

TRADITIONAL CELTIC music and punk rock? For the D.C. band O’Tasty, they go together like a Guinness and a smashed guitar.

“Some of the beats seem to flow the same way,” O’Tasty lead singer and guitarist James O’Brien said. “Irish [music] and punk seem to have the same half-time beat.”

This St. Patrick’s Day, the sextet will be bringing that beat to Arlington for a gig at IOTA Club & Café. Far from a novelty act, the band is a part of a rich tradition of bands – The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly to name a few – that make loud, aggressive rock music with traditional Irish elements woven in.

John Garder, who plays trumpet, mandolin and a medieval Irish drum known as a bodhran, said that the Celtic punk genre has “been around a while and we’re really informed by that. We have the rock rhythm section but we have the Irish instrumentation on top of that.”

Cultural fusion aside, O’Tasty’s main objective is fun – pure and simple. The band’s logo is a four-squared coat of arms that features a clover, a switchblade, a mug of beer and a hot dog.

“That’s the cool thing about the Celtic punk tradition,” Garder said. “It’s brought folks from all walks of life who can enjoy music of the Irish tradition in a different way.”

O’TASTY was formed by O’Brien and several of his musician friends as a lark for a 2002 St. Patrick’s Day performance. According to O’Brien, who also is the owner of Redrocks Pizzeria in D.C., “We had a great time and got a great response so we decided to put a little more effort into it… We’ve been going ever since.”

Now the band is focused on writing its own material. Garder said that they’re expecting to release an album sometime this summer and will be debuting new material at their IOTA gig next week.

“We’ve gotten back to the grind of getting everything together and finishing up recording,” O’Brien said. “Now we’re going to go full into it.” O’Tasty is the kind of band that doesn’t do anything halfway. O’Brien said their shows are full of energy and, as their previous St. Patrick’s Day experiences attests to, they can occasionally get out of control.

“Last year we had to get shut down… because the floor was starting to cave in because people were jumping up and down so much,” he said, noting that IOTA’s stage is on the first floor so that problem shouldn’t arise this year.

“They might rock out a little,” said IOTA’s booking agent, who goes by Burns – “just Burns.”

Garder seconds that. “People should wear good footwear for dancing and expect a really energetic St. Patrick’s Day celebration,” he said. “We’re excited to bring to Arlington an energetic performance to celebrate the Irish holiday.” - The Arlington Connection


The "Snow Sessions" EP - 2007
Full-length LP - TBA (Winter, 2008)



A winner of New York City’s Irish Rhapsody Festival, O'Tasty is one of the most dynamic bands in the Washington, DC area. Their music pushes the boundaries of Celtic punk, rock and folk; blending traditional Irish instrumentation including the mandolin, accordion, fiddle and flute with a frenetic rock counterpoint of guitar, bass and drums.

O'Tasty has regularly sold out Metro Washington, DC venues such as IOTA and Staccato Lounge, while frequenting regional venues such as The Knitting Factory in NYC, Mick O'Shea's in Baltimore and Molly Malone's in Philadelphia. O'Tasty has shared the stage with Flogging Molly, Black 47, The Street Dogs and other national acts.

Contact: james.obrien@redrocksdc.com