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Mickey Mulligan and The Travelers’ Irish Drinking Tunes

By: Jena Maddalino

Date Posted: 2000-04-29

Sitting alone on a tall bar stool in the local Irish pub, Mickey Mulligan has become a regular sight to the patrons of this establishment. Wearing an ensemble that looks to be straight out of the film the Titanic (complete with cap and suspenders), and drinking his Guinness happily, one might assume that this quiet man is just a barfly with a weird outfit. Of course, those who frequent the pub know this man to be the lead vocalist and guitar player of the band Mickey Mulligan and the Travelers.

The Travelers perform Irish drinking tunes at the Morrigan's every Thursday night to a crowd of loyal, sometimes rowdy, fans. In a brief six months, the Travelers have grown from a solo act to a five-member band. Their repertoire of 100 songs includes Irish jigs, ballads and seafaring tunes. "The Blarney Pilgrim", "Bonney Charlie", and "Seven Night Drunk" are just a few of the songs that they perform at the pub.

Mickey started his solo act in Okinawa last September, performing in a dark corner under the stairs of the pub. Even though he was sometimes asked to move slightly to the left so patrons could play a game of darts, Mickey continued his ballads and people started to pay attention.

Mickey's determination to please his audience is no surprise; he has been a performer for most of his life. He is a talented trombone player, as well as a gifted organist, and his musical experience includes Bluegrass and Country. Mickey also plays the tin whistle and banjo. So why does he love to perform so much? "I grew up loving music and the stage never frightened me...music is a big part of my life," says Mickey.

Vocalist and mandolin player, Jack Duggan was the next addition to the group, joining forces with Mickey and bringing his vocal harmony to the Irish sound. Jack, also a trombone player, chose his instrument without hesitation. "Jack complained that he could never play the guitar…that it was always awkward for his fingers. So, we went to a local music store, Jack picked up the mandolin, I taught him a few chords and a half hour later he handed the salesman his American Express card," Mickey fondly recalls.

Banjo player Rowan O' Connell with his Scottish roots, background in Bluegrass and his green Irish Derby, added more dramatics to this whimsical bunch of rebels. Rowan is said to be able to play anything with strings and has played with professional Bluegrass groups in the US. Together with the talented percussionist Martin McIntyre (yes, the mad Irishman who runs the place) the band was almost complete.

Of course, they were missing one very important thing - a talented and intelligent woman to even out the group. Former Wyoming Symphony member, Colleen Galbreath joined the band in January of this year, which allowed the band to play a better variety of Irish dance tunes. Complete with a fiddle player, the band attracted more fans to the mix.

" I attribute our success to all of the band members…together we have a great sound and we really enjoy performing together," says Mickey. Mickey also attributes their triumph to honorary members Fibber McGee, who wrote the forward to their songbook and is the band's official storyteller, and Brew Brubaker, the Travelers' photographer.

The Travelers' popularity is evident as people crowd around the tables on the second floor of the pub every Thursday night to listen to the lively music. In response to numerous requests, the band is currently recording 16 songs for their first CD, which will be released next month. The self-titled CD will feature such tunes as, "Irish Rover", "All for me grog", and "Molly Malone".

One would think that the recent success of the group would pave the way for big egos. This is not the case for the Travelers as they are too busy working at recording their music and working in the world of dual-professions. As for Mickey, he chooses to remain his cheerful self, relishing his bar-side stool and his pint of Guinness.

Mickey Mulligan and the Travelers plays every Thursday night from 8:30 PM to 12:00 PM at the Morrigan's Irish Pub on Park Avenue (adjacent to the Korinza mall). The band will also be performing at the pub on April 29th for the one-year anniversary party. For more information about the group, check out their website: www.mickeymulligan.com or contact the Morrigan's at 098 934-7778.

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