In For A Penny holds some unique titles in the Savannah music community.
They are the only original Irish-Celtic punk-folk band, and they are — by a long a stretch — the most prolific St. Patrick’s weekend performers.
2017 marks three years for the band, and they are celebrating with 15 live shows in March.
In For A Penny was born about a month before St. Patrick’s Day three years ago when a regular gig for mandolin player/frontman Sean McNally at Tybee Island’s Sand Bar transformed into a week full of shows. He was joined by guitarist Jeremy Riddle and drummer Henny Da Butcha, and the three have been jamming ever since.
Last year, though, they added a bass player. Sean’s son Bryce McNally rounded out the lineup and things have been getting ramped up since.
“The guys came to me and asked what I thought about my son coming in and playing bass for us,” McNally said. “I was like, that’s kind of Van Halen-ish, but I am cool with it. That’s been a blast.
“When we brought Bryce in on bass, it kind of filled out the sound,” he continued. “He started singing. So now we have some three-piece harmony stuff going on. So we’ve gotten a little fatter.”
While St. Patrick’s Day weekend is peak time for the band, they do play regular gigs throughout the year, mostly on Tybee. Over the course of the band’s time, they’ve adjusted their sound slightly from the acoustic roots into a little more ramped up punk vibe.
“I’ve noticed stylistically, I think we’ve gotten a little more aggressive and a little heavier,” McNally said. “Which is weird for bands. They usually mellow out as they get older. Our stuff as gotten a little faster and heavier. As my voice has gotten more ragged out, we’ve gotten a little more punk. We’re a little more folky to begin with, and now we’re sort of mid-range punk.”
The younger McNally is celebrating his final St. Patrick’s soirée before moving to Colorado next month. The band will celebrate his moving on by making all of their shows in March going away parties for the young bassist.
“This is our swan song for him,” McNally said. “That will be a blast. Every show is going to be our ‘Bryce is going away show.’”
Last summer, they also headed into the studio to record. One thing that perhaps sets In For A Penny’s music apart from other Celtic punk bands is the material. The quartet plays almost all original music in their live sets. They do covers sparingly and when they do, it might not be what you expect.
“We like to do weird cover stuff,” McNally said. “We do Tears For Fears.We do a really cranked-up, Irish version of ‘Royals.’ Just to throw some weird stuff people have heard.”
They recorded a five-track EP at Elevated Basement Studio with Shane Baldwin of local band Voodoo Soup. So if you like what you hear live, they will have those enigmatic shiny compact discs with their original material on hand, along with digital versions on the world wide web.
“We made it into a couple top 10 lists at the end of the year,” McNally said. “That was pretty neat to see something you put together and come out and people say, ‘Hey that’s cool, we’ll vote for it.’”
Behind the popularity of bands like The Pogues, Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys and Cutthroat Shamrock, In For A Penny will play the crowd-pleasing covers on occasion. So don’t worry if you want some “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” to serenade your drunk self.
If you’re afraid you might miss In For A Penny this year, fret not. They open the weekend with a show at The Rail Pub on March 16. On March 17 and 18, they will play three shows each day starting at 3 p.m.
Later this month, catch them with The RumJacks at The Jinx and in Atlanta. And if you’re still yearning for some Celtic fun, In For A penny will play Molly MacPherson’s Scottish Pub in Pooler on March 31.
“People seem to dig it,” McNally said. “What we try to do is make sure it’s fun more than anything. You can look out and see 3-year-old kids dancing and having a blast, and you have 90-year-old ladies leaning up against the wall tapping their foot and having a ball.
“I’ve never played in a band that had that kind of wide range of people into it. It’s weird to look out and see a crowd that varied. That’s been cool.”
IF YOU GO
What: In For A Penny
When: March 16-18
Where: Various locations
Info: Get the full schedule at facebook.com/inforapennymusic