The Gas Men
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The Gas Men

San Anselmo, California, United States

San Anselmo, California, United States
Band Folk Celtic

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Feb
26
The Gas Men @ Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort

Midpines, California, USA

Midpines, California, USA

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Music

Press



"Irish music is like the redwood tree in the forest" says singer and fiddler John Caulfield of the San Francisco Irish band The Gas Men. "It's that old, beautiful thing that you want to build around. The important thing to remember is that, while some of the tunes and songs we play are hundreds of years old, the music is not dead," says Caulfield. "We're not playing museum pieces. We're playing pieces that are alive."
The Gas Men play tunes and songs. "In Irish music, tunes are instrumentals, songs have words," Gas Men bodhran player Cormac Gannon says.
Either way, the melody always finds them whenever the thought reminds them.
Starting out as Orla and The Gas Men with vocalist Orla Morrison in 1995 the band began for the reason all bands should: to have fun making music. While the lineup has fluctuated from as many as nine members to the current six and Morrison has since retured to Ireland, the original mission of fun has not changed and never will.
"Real music has nothing to do with money or popularity,"says Caulfield, who looks like a curly haired John Lennon while sitting with the rest of The Gas Men around a table at the Plough and the Stars pub on Clement Street, where the band can often be found performing.
"The fact that we play music as a hobby and that we are not professionals gives us a totally different and more relaxed outlook," Gannon says.
A hobby? Considering that The Gas Men perform numerous gigs a year, have hundreds of tunes (and songs) in their repertoire and have toured in Alaska and Argentina, then at the very least they ought to be called professional amateurs. Or maybe hobby-aholics.
As a band, the members of The Gas Men don't drink too much. They rarely argue, and they're always happy to see one another. Taking in one of their sets of traditional Irish dance tunes, bluegrass and country -and -western-inspired songs is, ... a gas.
"I guess that's how we got the name," says mandolinist Vincy Keehan and (though he won't acknowledge it) unofficial mayor of the San Francisco Irish. "It's a term used in Ireland for people known as funny characters. Guy walks through the door and everyone goes; "Ah. He's a gas man"
The band blames Morrison for the name because no one else wants to take credit for it.
Gannon was living in Australia before travelling to San Francisco. While there he was told the first order of business in San Francisco would be to look up Keehan. They first met at the Plough and the Stars.
When not playing their regular gig at the pub, the six Gas Men, including flutist Vinny Cronin and accordionist Barry O' Connell, put their musical earnings together and take the show on the road.
Recent passport stamps include Cuba and Argentina.
While in Buenos Aires, the band played at a pub, where they met an Irish-Argentinian woman in her 80's. "In talking to her, I was not only sure she was from Ireland but also, with her Midlands accent, I was pretty sure I knew roughly where she came from," Somerville says. "Eventually I asked her what part of Ireland she was from. She said she had only been to Ireland for the first time a couple of years ago. Her accent had been preserved from her parents, who had preserved it from their parents."
The Gas Men hope to do the same for Irish music.
Caulfield remembers playing a gig at an Irish music festival in Florida many years ago. After hearing him play, someone insisted that Caulfield meet an American musician in his 70's who played an eerily similar style of tunes.
"He had never been to Ireland. He might have heard of Ireland, and probably knew of its existence," Caulfield jokes. "But he and I had no problem playing all of these old Irish tunes, note for note, while nobody else at the festival may have known them."
The elderly man was from the Appalachians and had learned the tunes from his father and grandfather.
"It was like the music was preserved in ice or stone," Caulfield says. "The music was our missing link.


- The San Francisco Chronicle


Discography

Recent CD release : Clement Street It has been played on College, Public, Irish National (RTE radio) Radio and regional stations.

Photos

Bio

After meeting at different Irish music jam sessions, The Gas Men formed in San Francisco in the mid 1990's. The band who come from different parts of Ireland, and the United States,,have a unique sound featuring six vocalists and share a love of performing and sharing their music with others.