Music Review from a non-musician: The Jolly Groggers

I grew up listening to music constantly. My older sister would be pounding out Mozart on our upstairs piano while my younger sister was accompanying with an original number from the basement piano. Or my little sister would be practicing clarinet in her bedroom and my older sister was in the living room playing guitar, violin, or harmonica unless she was away at choir practice or voice lessons. Sometimes the constant presence of two musicians resulted in cacophony, sometimes harmony, but always sound. Except for the occasional blast on the trumpet for shock value, I never had the desire to join in, perhaps because the decibel level was already a bit concerning and the ability to “hear ourselves think” was already confounded.

All this to say, I don’t have any ability to make music myself- but over the years of listening, I have developed an ear for what sounds good and what does not. I cannot usually pinpoint what it is about a song that I like or dislike, because all the sounds meld together into one unit, like they did in my house growing up. I have never been able to say, the baseline really added something to that song, or the lead guitar part was boring, or the drummer was just being showy…. I just know if the song as a whole sounded good and what that song provoked in me.

The Jolly Groggers, Irish Folk music from NE Minneapolis, recently offered a free CD for anyone who would write a review about their new(ish) album. The promotion is cleverly called “Bloggers for Groggers” and as a completely unbiased fan (wink, wink) I have decided to be the first to participate.

The band first formed a few years ago to provide entertainment at one of the band member’s St Patrick’s Day parties. A few friends decided to get together and learn some traditional Irish Folk tunes to liven up the party (in case the mysterious green beverages and jello molds weren’t enough). Instead of a boring ol’ indoor practice with no audience, the band decided to play outside of Britt’s pub in preparation for the party. Just like in the movies (or Glee) when people in the streets break out in dance, there was lots of dancing. Except instead of synchronized, choreographed moves, there was a little bit of everything. Of course there were a fair number of people attempting the straight armed, fancy footwork jigs, but there were also people slow dancing, skipping, and performing other moves I can’t even describe. Besides making a lot of people dance, they made everyone smile, and they made about $60. Just enough to keep them wanting more.

The magic the Groggers worked on the street crowd was nothing compared to the fun they facilitated at their favorite venue, Charlie’s Irish Pub, in Stillwater, MN. The old time songs with a gruff yet playful spin gets the pub patrons clanking their glasses together and cheering for more every time. When the band added Stacy Griffin, and Anna Bakk as dueling fiddlers to the mix there wasn’t a still foot in the room. To keep things fresh and exciting, the band members switch instruments amongst each other between nearly every song. Their new album of ten songs, features all six band members as the lead singer for various songs. Not only do they cover the Irish folk favorites for everyone to sing along, they also play original songs by Peter Bodurtha, that are so clever, Irish, and subtle, that everyone thinks they are classics.

As one pub patron aptly put it (at the top of her lungs) after hearing the Jolly Groggers for the first time, “THEY SOUND LIKE %*$#@!* ANGELS!”

For a fun, memorable night out- check out the Jolly Groggers live, or for the extra energy you need to finish cleaning your house, buy their new album (or download songs for free) at

fun at 331 Club in Mpls

The Jolly Groggers at Charlies Irish Pu b in Stillwater, MN

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