The Snakes

“Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves.”

Brendan Behan wrote those lines years ago, before he took a long dirt nap under some Irish dung heap.

That sentence has ruled my life ever since I took up this writing gig 14 years ago because while I have written about every form of music played by Irish artists, I never played a note.

Until now.

I’m not sure what time you’re going to read this, but I am at my desk right now and it is 12:56 a.m. on Sunday. The date is May 17 and a scant 10 minutes ago I did the impossible -- I played bass with a live audience in front of me and a live band behind me!

In the spirit of honesty, I must confess to writing like Behan tonight. I am still shrugging off the effects of a scotch/soda/adrenaline buzz as I write this!

Permit me a paragraph for the back story. In the midst of a raging midlife crisis, I took up the bass guitar in January 2008 with the hope of learning the Bob Marley “Legend”album within 12 months.

I had never played a note of music before setting out to do this, and after enduring weekly lessons and purchasing four basses, an effects pedal and a killer amp system, I am completely hooked on playing music!

While I have jammed and knocked around with local musicians I wasn’t thinking that my skills were anywhere near ready for prime time, but fate had other plans for me this night.
So there I was, minding my own business while the Snakes played a delicious set that included traditional ditties and choice cuts from Violent Femmes, the Pogues, Traveling Wilburys and The Band.

I must confess to downing a number of drams of liquid courage in anticipation of the event when the lead singer said, “Dude, you’ve been saying you need more practice every month we play here and I am here to tell you tonight’s your night and I ain’t taking no for an answer.”

My three minutes of fame had me following the band through a raucous read of “Irish Rover,” Pogues style. Somewhere in the first minute I found myself locked with the drummer, and while there were some occasional lapses, it looks like the song was held together despite me being the weakest link in the chain.

The memory will stay with me. Not since I wore a mullet parachute pants at a Duran Duran concert in 1981 have I felt so frickin’ rock and roll as I left a sparse crowd pumping their fist and begging for more!

For this adrenaline rush, I have the Snakes to thank for that. They play every month at St. Stephen’s Publick House in Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey, and after many gigs of suffering through the begging and pleading of their lead singer, I lived a rock and roll dream against my better judgment.

Check out this great band at www.thesnakesband.com/. If you come to see them at the New Jersey Irish Festival, I promise not to get up and mess up their version of “Irish Rover!”

The Festival is Saturday, June 13, from noon until 8 p.m. at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, New Jersey, which is just off exit 89 on the Garden State Parkway.

The Snakes will also be joined by Celtic Cross, Seanchai and the Unity Squad, and many others. There’s not a bad band in the bunch and in these tough economic times, a lineup like this is a true green value for your green dollar!