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"You see a lot of unique, really folky stuff, traditional bands with bodhrán and harps, and it's really amazing to witness some very traditional stuff. And then you get bands like The Brazen Heads or us up there. We will get guests to come up, [like] Jason Devore [of Authority Zero and his own Irish side project, The Bollox], to take the stage, and it works both ways — we'll have traditional-folk folks come up and play with us. We love it all."
Flanagan says that fans of traditional Irish folk can sometimes be put off by the band's aggressive sound. "The older version of Cowboys was a lot more reserved than what you get now, and fans who got used to them the way they were. When Frank assembled this set of musicians to do what we do now, it really threw them off. Some of those fans came up and told us, 'Hey, we tried, but we just can't get into it,' and we just tell them, 'Hey, you can't make everyone happy.' But I know we appeal a lot to the younger crowd or the club-going crowd, and the results speak for themselves: We are booked week in and week out, all through 2011, and we know we're going to be solid."
Cash grab or not, both bands stand a shot at winning listeners over on March 17. "We gained a lot of fans last St. Patrick's Day," says Flanagan. "We are looking to do even better this year. We have been getting ready the past couple of weeks just getting our game plan down, and we're coming out all guns blazing."
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Cynicism and skepticism aside, it's hard to deny the connection both bands get to make with their audience at least one day out of the year, and the dedication Irish bands put forth to making each St. Paddy's Day a good one. "We used to do three shows [on St. Patrick's Day], which was really hard to do," says Casey. "Mostly hard to get drunk that many times that day — well, we didn't have to get drunk — but it's St. Patrick's Day, so you start the day drinking and pretty much end the day the same way. Yeah, it's the biggest day of the year for an Irish rock band."