Red Rebel County puts a little Irish in DeKalb


Mike Sullivan

Red Rebel County is a local Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys cover band which is playing at Otto’s nightclub on Saturday.

By Chris Krapek

DEKALB | If you’re a sailor peg and you’ve lost your leg, you don’t have to ship out to Boston to find it — DeKalb has you covered.

Red Rebel County, a Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly tribute band, will play at 9 p.m. Saturday at Otto’s Nightclub, 118 E. Lincoln Highway. The 21 and older show costs $6.

The Northern Star recently talked to the nine-member band from the South Side of Chicago about Ireland, booze and kilts.

Northern Star: What is it about Irish culture and music that attracts you?

Doug (bagpipes/backing vocals): Both our parents are from Cork City, Ireland in Cork County, known as the “Rebel County,” hence the name of our band. We grew up singing at all hours of the day and listening to everyone take turns on different songs. Playing music in our house while growing up was always encouraged by our family. It’s a big part of the Irish culture and history. 

Rob (drums): The cool mix of banjo, bagpipes, fiddle and a rock band thrown in the mix is something that’s unique. You don’t see many bands doing it out there, and the instruments mesh together perfectly to form a really powerful sound. Also, the Irish culture is about family and the “average Joe” having his say, so it’s great to see those elements come together with the music on stage in our live show when the crowd is involved in the show.

Mark (lead vocals): For one thing I’m 100 percent Irish, and so is my brother, we think. Our mum and dad are from Cork City, Ireland. I spent a lot of time in Cork as a kid. My whole family lives there still, excluding my brother Doug. Our mum still lives there, so its a big part of who we are.

NS: Why did you guys decide to cover both Dropkick Murphy’s and Flogging Molly?

Doug: The band started as sort of a joke and purely for fun. There used to be a huge Chicago Irish Parade that ran through my South Side neighborhood and the idea of playing covers in the garage for my annual party seemed like fun. So we picked some of our favorites that we all liked, and it just happened that those two bands ended up being the majority of the songs.

Rob: These bands are clearly the two pioneers of the Irish punk rock sound and their “all for one, one for all” attitude represents what we stand for coming from the working class part of the South Side of Chicago, so for us there was no comparison with other bands.

NS: What’s the one song that’s always requested?

Doug: There’s usually lots of screaming at our shows and I can’t make it out over the bagpipes.

Rob: That is a tough one. We cover most of the party favorites people want to hear, but occasionally you get a b- side track that is a favorite someone really wants to hear. We try to mix it up between hits and album-type tracks to make it cool. Usually we hear people shout out “Kiss Me, I’m S—faced” by the Dropkick Murphys. That seems to be a crowd favorite where people want to get up on stage and sing along with the band.

Mark: The “punkers” at our shows usually want to hear “Boys on the Docks,” the ladies want “Every Dog Has Its Day” from Flogging Molly, the city workers want to hear “Amazing Grace,” — from town to town, venue to venue, it’s always something different.

NS: Someone makes fun of your kilt–what do you do?

Doug: I occasionally get a few “nice skirts” comments from guys, but I usually just say “thanks.” I don’t think they get what it all stands for, and that’s fine. I’m proud to wear my kilt – there’s a lot of tradition behind it. Bagpipers don’t just go out and buy a kilt, they earn the right to wear the tartan when the pipe major decides they are ready and have met a high standard of performance. This can take two to three years.

Mark: I’m not a piper, so I shouldn’t even really wear a kilt, but I’m Irish so I can. I wear it mainly because I’ve got some sweet gams. No joke, I’ve got some nice legs, Roc O’, our Italian-Irish bass player, told me so at the last show. But seriously, not many make fun of the kilt because there are nine of us. We’re more like a street gang then a band. So you give me any guff and I’ll have my Manjo player knock you out!

NS: Can you describe the shows you guys put on, for someone who has never been?

Quin: Our shows tend to be rowdy with lots of screaming and girls dancing — kind of like a drunken hoedown that a lot of people seem to have become addicted to.

Rob: Lots of singing, dancing; people jumping on stage to dance or sing along with us. We liken it to a traveling circus where the band is the sort of ringmaster and the crowd joins in with us on stage as part of the main act.