Words by Damien Russell
Wending their Happy Bus down to The Big Bulls Head on the 25th of March are Mad Dog Mcrea. Brought to us by Birmingham Promoters, the show is scheduled to start at 19:00 with tickets are priced at £13.75 (ex-booking fees). For direct gig info, including online ticket sales, click here.
Mad Dog Mcrea are a modern folk band very much of the old school, blending traditional folk leanings with gypsy jazz and a more modern folk/rock sound. Even the odd nod to bluegrass creeps in occasionally.
And although they lean towards a quintessentially Celtic sound much of the time, the band actually hail from Plymouth in deepest Devonshire. That said, Mad Dog Mcrea seem to spend so much time on the road I would be surprised if they can remember what street they live on. They are a road tested, hard-working, hard drinking good time band and no mistake.
Mad Dog Mcrea currently have four full studio albums and one studio EP on the shelves, with their latest LP, Almost Home, released via God Damn Records in March 2015. Each album has a diverse mix of sounds, tempos and styles, and if you look at their iconic songs: Black Fly, Am I Drinking Enough?, The Happy Bus, Duck Street and Bees Wing, they span twelve years of writing, recording and touring (my favourite is ‘Am I Drinking Enough?’ – check it out live, link below). No flash-in-the-pan group here.
Mad Dog Mcrea were more prominently recognised in 2011 when Radio 2’s Mike Harding gave them some airplay. Harding was quoted as saying they were “one of the most exciting discoveries of 2011,” despite their pre-2011 activities.
Last time I saw Mad Dog Mcrea was in 2014 at the Robin 2 in Bilston. They’d been delayed on the way up by some numpty crashing on the motorway or something, loaded in late and had a hurried soundcheck. Maybe the stress was a factor or maybe it was business as usual, but I’m certain that lead singer/guitarist Michael Mathieson was swigging from a bottle of whisky throughout the set. And emptied about half of it. Quite the stage show.
They also had a bunch of dedicated supporters at the front dressed as crayons, who had apparently followed them for most of the tour. A right bouncy lot they were too. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see such merry madness again this time around. I hope Birmingham’s ready; the Happy Bus is heading to town.
‘Am I Drinking Enough?’ (live) – Mad Dog Mcrea
Mad Dog Mcrea perform at The Big Bulls Bead in Digbeth on Saturday 25th March, as presented by Birmingham Promoters. For direct gig info and online tickets sales, click here.
For more on Mad Dog Mcrea, visit www.maddogmcrea.co.uk
For more from The Big Bull’s Head, visit www.facebook.com/TheBigBullsHead
For more from Birmingham Promoters, including a full event programme and online ticket sales, visit www.birminghampromoters.com