The Brazen Heads
Gig Seeker Pro

The Brazen Heads

Phoenix, Arizona, United States | INDIE

Phoenix, Arizona, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Celtic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




A few weeks ago The Brazen Heads presented two videos to support their new CD, “Who’s Yer Paddy”: “One Eyed Reilly” and “Who’s Yer Paddy”. From an artistic standpoint, their videos break new ground.

Most band videos are pretty simplistic. They are simply a presentation of a performance. In some cases, Celtic performers use professional video teams to produce DVD’s and use segments for online videos (Celtic Woman is a good example). But visually they are still just videos of performances. The other most common approach is a generic slide show of photos like pictures of Ireland.

The Brazen Heads videos go far beyond anything other Celtic performers are doing. The difference is that The Brazen Heads have scripted a series of sight gags that match the lyrics of the songs.

In terms of style, the Brazen Heads videos resemble the classic MTV videos of the 1980’s when record labels put big money into the video process. The Brazen Heads lack that kind of money, but made up for limited money with their creativity.

“One Eyed Reilly” reminds one of some of the segments of the classic Beatles movie “Help”. Drummer Roy Plisko wears an eye patch and makes faces as “One Eyed Reilly”, but it is guest Michael Fitzpatrick who provides most of laughs as a guest performer on the cow bell. The sight gags come fast and furious.

“Who’s Yer Paddy” is the video debut of Shala Pero as Annie who simply steals the show. The “plot” is that Annie has a baby and no one knows who is the daddy/paddy. One at a time, everybody in the band comes to her room and then gets pushed into the closet as someone else arrives. Describing it does not do justice to the gags and how effective Shala is as the center of attention. Her expressions are just priceless.

More than just being effective at promoting the CD, their videos offer a chance for the performers to show their comic talents and personalities. The thought that went into the production of these videos puts them in a class of their own.

The videos can be seen at
- George O'Brien Arizona Irish Music Society

"The Brazen Heads bring the Irish at the Dubliner"

Every once in a while I like to get my Irish on, but I’ve grown used to the nearby pubs like Seamus McCaffreys and Rosies, so I figured it was time to mix it up a little. I called my boys Kelly and Zack – 100% Grade A Irish – and we took a drive out to the Dubliner on the southwest corner of 38th Street and Thunderbird.

I’d been there a couple of times years ago and had a faint memory of the place. I remembered it as large and pretty empty, with a bunch of long narrow tables for group dining and some booths. I also remember that the music was acoustic and fairly traditional, and though the place was huge and the audience was small they were enthusiastic about the band.

The Dubliner is located in an area not usually associated with nightlife and entertainment, near Paradise Valley Mall in the Northeast Valley. I don’t get out that way very often and it had been at least 10 years since I visited the Dubliner.
My how things change. I had an inkling the place might be busy due to the number of cars in the parking lot, but assumed there was another bar in the strip mall that would account for some of the vehicles. As soon as we walked in I realized not only was the place huge but it was also very busy.

The Dubliner is broken down into roughly three areas. The front room has a stage and the aforementioned long tables, a bunch of booths and tall round tables. There is a middle area where the large bar is centered which has plenty of bar space and many small tables. There is also a back room which is partially divided from the other areas, though the long bar runs on three side and into the back room. The back room has pool tables and other bar games, and provides another space if you aren’t feeling the music.
But I was feeling the music in a big way, which was nice. It can be a dodgy proposition finding good Irish bands in Phoenix.

There are a lot of average bands in town that play the Irish pub circuit, playing the cliché musical equivalent of the lucky charms leprechaun. I sort of equate this with the blues community here, which is populated with lots of mediocre talent under the mistaken idea that the straightforward construction of the music should make playing the stuff automatic.

When seeking Irish music there seem to be a few standard modes. You’ve got old dudes with acoustic guitars and maybe a backing multi-instrumentalist playing weepy ballads with total sincerity that will bring a tear to your beer, which are nice when you are feeling sentimental but not when you want to jig. There are also thinly veiled hack cover bands who bring as much authenticity and feeling to the tunes as they would to 70s rock classics. And then you have the true believers, the real talents that are able to fuse the old traditional music with a fresh take and mix it up with more contemporary music to keep the audience on their toes. They often use electric instruments, pay homage to the standards in the genre but don’t rely on the chestnut for their emotional power, and exhibit master of the form and their instruments.

Obviously for me the third kind is preferable and the band I saw there, the Brazen Heads, fits firmly in the true believer category. Seamlessly combining traditional elements with contemporary flair and having a good time while doing it, they were definitely the best band in this mode I’ve seen in some time.

They played a nice mixture of Irish rock and traditional tunes, many of which were not standard fare. They also had fun with many of the standards, presenting original and inspired versions of the songs. The players all knew their way around the music and their instruments, and lead singer Liam Mackey had a strong voice and stage presence. The band features the usual rock lineup or guitar, bass and drums with the requisite fiddle and a nice addition of keyboards.

The Brazen Heads appeal was broad. I was happy to see several groupings of people in their early 20s enjoy the music without irony. It was a nice time and the place had a busy, enjoyable energy, and while there were a lot of cute girls and plenty of dudes, it didn’t have the attitude of a meat market or dance club.

I had a good time but one too many pints of Guinness. Luckily I had enough presence of mind to corner Liam Mackey and ask him a few questions before the damned hiccups kicked in.

AZNightBuzz: Tell us something about the band’s history, who plays what and what the name the Brazen Heads is about.
Liam Mackey: I formed the band back in the late 80s when I was fresh off the boat. We played the pub and festival circuit up and down the East Coast and after several incarnations and at least one temporary name change, I took a much deserved break and moved out to Phoenix. More recently I decided to dust off the guitar and re-formed the band with a few new faces. We took our name after the very famous Brazen Head pub in Dublin, which claims to be the oldest pub in all of Ireland.

AZNB: About how often do you have gigs and what is a typical show for the band?
LM: We usually get out about three weekends a month and typically in the Irish pubs around town. We play the odd festival or special event and haven’t really decided about touring this lineup as of yet, but we definitely have interest in doing it again at some point.

AZNB: How would you describe a set list at a Brazen Heads show? Is there a certain criterion for inclusion in the show?
LM: We always try to live up to our motto “Celtic Mayhem.” Our sets run the spectrum from poignant to political to traditional to all our rockers and back. We tend to gravitate toward some of the lesser covered Celtic rock acts from Ireland like Thin Lizzy, Horslips, More Power to Your Elbow and Goats Don’t Shave, for example. But we don’t just choose them based on that criteria alone. We genuinely like them. The other obvious benefit to our covering music that isn’t as mainstream on the pub circuit is our humble hope to foster a broader appreciation of Celtic music. It’s not all stuff your granny would like.

AZNB: Are any of the members besides yourself from Ireland?
LM: Is this a question the INS will see? The official answer is I am the sole green card holder in the Brazen Heads.

AZNB: Is there an instrument that best represents Irish music?
LM: Arthur Guinness chose to put the Harp in his famous logo so it’s the one most visually identifiable. But if you’re talking live music I would have to say the fiddle since jigs and reels are most often associated with it.

AZNB: Is there a song that people at an Irish pub in America expect to hear in every set? Is it different in Ireland?
LM: Unfortunately, when people start making the universally known hand signals for the “Unicorn song,” we know we’re for a rough night. This and a few other widely overdone songs (many of which aren’t even Irish) seem to pervade the average listeners experience with Irish music. In a word, is it different in Ireland? Yes. As an Irishman in America I do have to recognize the difference between the two and strive to strike the balance between educating and entertaining in a way that everyone goes away happy.

AZNB: With the exception of U2, what is your favorite band from Ireland?
LM: Luke Kelly of the Dubliners for out and out ballads. Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy for straight forward Irish rock, Horslips for being the most inventive with blending traditional with contemporary and, of course, Christy Moore for humor, poignancy and political commentary. We all owe Christy a big debt of gratitude. Oh, and let’s not forget the first Saw Doctors album, a contemporary classic.

AZNB: Do you have a favorite place to play in Phoenix and if so, why?
LM: We love all the Irish venues for their unique differences but if you press me, I’m going to have to say the NorthStar Lounge. It’s not at all connected to the Irish music scene but it’s owned by a mate of mine who loaned us his massive stage to work out the kinks in our show before we started booking ourselves around town. We still use the pub as our live proving ground and have been known to put on an unannounced show or two in there for special occasions.

AZNB: What is a favorite show you’ve played with the Brazen Heads?
LM: The first one we played in Phoenix because we had no idea if our brand of Irish music would go down as well in the Southwest. It was also a benefit for the Irish Cultural Center which we wouldn’t describe as our “typical” audience type so it was a double unknown. To our mutual relief, everyone had a great time and we had a lot of fun helping out their cause. I love those kinds of challenges. It makes gigging fun.

AZNB: Can you tell us a crazy show story – a wild or screwed up show or event?
LM: We have an agreement in this band that we’re like Vegas; what goes on in the Brazen Heads, stays in the Brazen Heads. So I’m not at liberty to discuss.

AZNB: The Dubliner was packed with an interesting crowd – an odd mixture of 20-somethings, people in their 30s and then some older folks. First of all, is that place always that busy? What percentage of the people in the bar were there for you and what kind of a crowd do the Brazen Heads usually attract?
LM: The Dubliner has the unique standing of being one of only a couple of the original Irish music pubs in Phoenix and their popularity still benefits from that fact so they’re often crowded. Our band is still pretty fresh faced on the local Irish music scene so I wouldn’t want to suggest they were all there for us but a good few of them were. We usually attract a mixture of Paddys who know and love our choice of material and Americans who don’t know why they like us yet but we have a ton of energy so they do.

AZNB: You play a mixture of Irish standards and more contemporary music. Do you get sick of playing any of the older songs and if so, which ones?
LM: If by contemporary you mean newer sounding, you’re right. None of it is really new music though. We’ve taken a bunch of old songs and rearranged many of them to suit our taste of having a Celtic rock vibe. With the exception of a few American songs we tossed in because we liked them, all our material is Celtic Isles in origin and pretty old. I can’t say we get sick of playing older songs since most of what we play is in fact old, but there are certain songs we just won’t do like the unicorn song. You won’t ever hear that song performed at a Brazen Heads show.

AZNB: Anything you’d like to add, anything at all. Or nothing is OK too.
LM: Interviews nearly always make you run the risk of coming off either pompous or sounding like a complete wanker. I consider myself neither. What I’d really like to encourage is for people to come out and catch a Brazen Heads show and form your own opinion. Have a pint or three. Better yet, buy us a pint or three.
- AZ Night Buzz


Still working on that hot first release.



Led by Dubliner Liam Mackey, The Brazen Heads are a raucous, fun-loving band that kicks out high energy "Celtic mayhem." Featuring their own brand of traditional and Celtic rock styled tunes on their CD releases, Whos Yer Paddy, and "Curse of the Hag", theyve been rockin' it Irish style to rave reviews!

Here's what just a few had to say:

"These guys don't play around when it comes to what they can do with their instruments. They're out to impress-and they do succeed. They are one of the better Celtic bands that I've heard." Cathrine L. Tully, Celtic Music Magazine

"The band is not afraid to take things to the next level. High energy is what they promote and their music will make you want to get out of your seat and join the party!" Karen J. Brady, Celtic Music Magazine

"Was simply awesome having you at the Colorado Irish Festival! You lads really put on a great show!! Eddy Erskine, Colorado Irish Festival

"Congratulations! The Brazen Heads have been voted the surprise Hit Band of the Rocky Mountain Irish Festival!"
John Schreck, Rocky Mountain Irish Festival

Discography & Awards
2009 "Curse of The Hag" self-released CD
2008 Finalist, Clonmel International Songwriting Contest, Clonmel Ireland
2008 Whos Yer Paddy self-released CD
1997 Boston Pub Crawl (Dancing Druid compilation CD)
1993 Back to the Bars

Sample Tour Dates
Rocky Mountain Irish Fest
Arizona Highland Games & Celtic Gathering
Palm Beach County Irish Fest
Colorado Irish Festival
Smokyhill River Festival
Broward County Irish fest
Arizona Irish Fest
Ft. Collins Irish Fest
Clonmel Song Writing Contest, Clonmel Ireland
Cleeres Theatre, Kilkenny Ireland

WTBQ Radio, New York
103.9TippFM, Tipperary Ireland
104FM The Edge, Phoenix AZ
NPR, Nationwide
KCLR 96FM Kilkenny, Ireland

IndiMusicTV, New York
GAC TV, Nashville
RTE, Ireland Out of Ireland (film)
WTBV, Boston
KPNX, Arizona
KTVK, Arizona

Press Clips

The Brazen Heads bring the Irish at the Dubliner
There are a lot of average bands in town that play the Irish pub circuit, playing the clich musical equivalent of the lucky charms leprechaun but the band I saw there, the Brazen Heads, fits firmly in the true believer category. Seamlessly combining traditional elements with contemporary flair and having a good time while doing it, they were definitely the best band in this mode Ive seen in some time.
Excerpt- Full version of the review can be found here:

The Brazen Heads
Who's Yer Paddy?

By Niki D'Andrea
Published in NEW TIMES on June 19, 2008
Fans of Irish folk-rock like Flogging Molly will go Paddy-batty for this local release, which blends traditional tunes like "Hag at the Churn" and "One Eyed Reilly" with spirited, fiddle-driven originals like the snarky title track (where guitarist/vocalist Liam Mackey wails "C'mon, c'mon, Annie, tell us all who's the daddy? And tell us all who's yer paddy?") and the mellow folk ballad "Dirty Dublin," which borrows more from Americana and classical music than raucous Paddy pub burners. TWhile many write off Irish folk-rock and Celtic punk as a musical flash in the pan already grease-fired by bands like Flogging Molly, The Dubliners, and anything connected to the incomparable (and incomparably debauched) Shane MacGowan, there's a musical prowess and cultural authenticity to the Brazen Heads' music that commands the listener's attention.

Artist: The Brazen Heads
Album: Curse of the Hag
High energy music here folks! Guinness Song is a great track to single out in terms of what you'll get when you put this CD on. Not quite the raucous mayhem of those punk Celtic bands, but songs that still supply a good dose of irreverence. In other words good stuff!
Echoes was a lovely, lovely song that shows a far different side (as well as range of capability) for this band. I'm always impressed by that when I see it, and this is no exception. It takes skill and the willingness to stretch a little as musicians.