April 22, 2012

Devaney's Goat: A Drinking Band with a Celtic Problem

(Devaney's Goat playing Brutopia, St. Pat's 2011)
In the fall of 2009, I had an idea. In the words of Dr. Seuss, it was "a wonderful, awful idea."

At the time, I was living in Montreal, having just earned my B.A. from McGill University. Instead of moving back to the Boston area to pursue what one might describe as a "real job," I decided to stay up north and write/play music for a living. So, at around the same time I kicked off my freelance writing career (which paid the bills), I also kicked off my music career (which was a lot of fun).

The Band

(Devaney's Goat playing Le Vieux Dublin, January 2010)
From L to R:
Mikey - Upright Bass/Vocals
Emlyn - Percussion 
Alison - Trumpet/Accordion/Vocals
Nikita - Guitar/Vocals
Me - Guitar/Irish Bouzouki/Vocals
Noelle - Fiddle

The Beginning

(Me & Nikita)
During my four-year romp through McGill undergrad, I was lucky enough to meet a slew of talented musicians. I met many of these musicians at Le Vieux Dublin Pub (The Old Dublin Pub) - a pub which would ultimately become my place of employment/second home. From 2006 through 2010, I bussed tables and washed pint glasses at the pub every Friday and Saturday night (my shifts lasting from 10pm till 4am, 5am, 6am...sometimes later. Sometimes much, much later).

Every Monday night at the Old Dub was open mic night, which was hosted by local Celtic music legend Liam Callaghan. Without Monday open mic nights - a place where a bunch of us could get together to belt out tunes - Devaney's Goat would never have become a reality.

The Name

I didn't originally intend to have my own name incorporated into the band's name. In addition to believing that naming a band after yourself is a little self-centered (cough-BonJoviyou'reanasshole-cough), it dawned on me that once the band was assembled, I would be the least-talented of the bunch. Seriously, I'm not being modest here: facts are facts. Nikita was a classically trained guitarist; Mikey, Alison and Emlyn were all music majors at McGill; and Noelle could shred the fiddle like Johnny from "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."

I, on the other hand, had only taken a few years of piano lessons when I was in elementary school and a year of guitar lessons when I was in middle school. What I did have going for me, however, was an Irish last name: Devaney (O'Duibheannaigh). When I discovered that there was an Irish fiddle tune with my name in it - Devaney's Goat (also spelled Devanny's Goat, Devanney's Goat and Devanney’s Goat) - that connection to Irish traditional music was too perfect to pass up. Also, it gave us a band mascot: the Goat.


The End?

After two years of playing local pubs (and one wedding), falling off stages, drinking enough Guinness to drown a herd of elephants, and - in general - having one hell of a time, the Goat disbanded in May 2011. However, on April 28th, 2012, Devaney's Goat played a reunion show at the pub where it all began: the Old Dub. Stay tuned for a recap in "Devaney's Goat: A Drinking Band with a Celtic Problem (Part 2)." Until then, here's a clip from one of our first-ever performances:





April 16, 2012

Boston Marathon History by the Numbers


Inspired by the first modern-day marathon held at the 1896 Summer Olympics, the first Boston Marathon is held in 1897.

At that first Boston Marathon, there were 18 participants. In comparison, the Boston Marathon now attracts about 20,000 registered participants each year. 26,895 runners registered in 2011.

In 1951, during the peak of the Korean War, the President of the Boston Athletic Association - Walter A. Brown - banned Koreans from running in the Boston Marathon. Brown was president of the BAA from 1941 to 1964.

Women were not officially allowed to run the Boston Marathon until 1972. However, Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb became the first woman to run the marathon (without a registration number) in 1966.

In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with a registration number. (She registered as "K. V. Switzer.") In a famous incident, a race official - Jock Semple - tried to rip off her number and kick her out of the race.

During the 1980s, professional athletes began refusing to run the Boston Marathon without the promise of cash rewards. The first cash prize for winning the Boston Marathon was awarded in 1986.

The 1996 Boston Marathon, which marked the 100th time the race had been run, set the record for world's largest marathon. 38,708 runners registered, 36,748 runners started, and 35,868 runners finished.

Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya ran the fastest Boston Marathon ever in 2011 with a time of 2 hours, 3 minutes, 2 seconds. Margaret Okayo - also of Kenya - set the women's course record in 2002 with a time of 2 hours, 20 minutes, 43 seconds.