Whenever we perform, we usually say that we play “Irish Speed Folk”. Although you might think it was a post-whiskey creation of ours, it was not. Other bands use the phrase “Irish Speed Folk” or just “Speed Folk”.

So what is “Speed Folk”, that rowdy new approach on a traditional music form?

We started to research the phrase and we found that there is a well-documented history to it’s cousin, “Folk Punk”.

Folk Music: music that originates in traditional popular culture or that is written in such a style. Folk music is typically of unknown authorship and is transmitted orally from generation to generation.

Punk Rock: The music which popular punk bands such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash played was usually loud, fast and violent, and expressed anger against society. 

So since Punk Rock wasn’t officially around until the 1970’s, we had to wait until then before we could mix this chocolaty folk and punk rock peanut butter. The two bands that really epitomize this movement were The Pogues and The Violent Femmes.  These bands lead to a whole family of punk/folk children that you could enjoy as they explode in their musical temper tantrums.

Irish Speed Folk (our favorite): We describe our music as “the dangerous intersection of two Irish musical traditions: Acoustic pub music & Celtic punk rock.”  That sounds similar to Flogging Molly and The Dropkick Murphys, but they are more on the “punk” side of things with their full drum set and electric instruments, or “Celtic Punk”. We see ourselves as a more acoustic derivative, fast folk or “Irish Speed Folk”. Another band that uses the phrase “Irish Speed Folk” is Fiddler’s Green from Germany (though we think this is a reach).

Fast Grass: This is what you get when you stir up mountain moonshine with punk rock whiskey. The still explodes. One of my favorite examples is the band Split Lip Rayfield who are no longer touring. Their banjo playing was supersonic. Carrie Nation And The Speakeasy is a current example.

Gypsy Punk: Take a campfire song with fiddle and concertina under a moonlit sky and mix it with gunpowder, that comes close to Gypsy Punk. Gogol Bordello are probably the most notable of these bands, but another great example is Quel Bordel! from San Diego.

Mixing It All Together: So many of these examples involve taking a specific genre of folk music and “punkifying” it. What I love about The Tan And Sober Gentlemen is that they mix a couple genres (American Mountain Music, Irish) and kick it up a notch without missing a beat. We will be performing with our friends, TASG, at The Celtic Ray on September 4th. Don’t miss it.

Here are some other notables:

Days N Daze (folk punk), Balkan Bomba and 3 Mustaphas 3 (Balkan Ska Rock)

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