For Savannah, St. Patrick’s Day is not just one day.
Green beaded necklaces can already be seen draped around reveler’s necks weeks in advance of the big parade. So, what does a local Irish folk punk band do during all of these days of festivities? Play as many gigs as humanly possible, of course.
In For A Penny, formed five years ago by singer/mandolin player Sean McNally, have earned a reputation for playing a veritable marathon of rowdy shows all over Savannah during St. Paddy’s, sometimes as many as four in one day.
“It’s a handful of shows and most of those are a three hour set, so we’re tired by the end of it, to say the least,” McNally said. “We love doing it and it’s the one weekend of the year we don’t have to go out looking for gigs. The Rail Pub actually booked us last year while we were tearing down our stuff after the show. They said, ‘Next year, you guys are already on,’ and we said ‘Great!’”
McNally used to regularly perform solo, but eventually called upon guitarist Jeremy Riddle (Argyle) and drummer Henny Da Butch to help him elevate his original songs that are inspired by Irish punk bands like Flogging Molly and The Rumjacks.
“I knew my job just got infinitely easier with those two guys in the band,” McNally recalled. “People say, ‘Oh, you’re a musician.’ No, those two guys are musicians, I’m a clown. That’s my job.”
In For A Penny was later joined by McNally’s son Bryce on bass, who after a temporary departure, has returned to play with the band and help realize their best sound.
McNally refers to a term, “blood harmonies,” to describe the band’s chemistry. “I’ve played with my brother for years and now my son is playing and there’s those different connections you have where they’re already hearing what you’re doing,” McNally said. “We’ve got that with the four of us and it’s weird that I can toss something in the air and they can see it coming and know exactly where we’re going. It’s such a blessing.”
The band have self-produced several recordings, but it is their latest EP, “Sometimes It’s Better Not To,” that has been drawing more attention from fans and critics. Recorded on a lark while jamming in a friend’s garage, McNally was surprised to see the EP earn high praise.
“It was really almost accidental that we put it together,” McNally explains. “The end of the year came around and the blogs that had reviewed us were putting out their “best of” lists and the darned thing started to show up [on the lists]. We hit No. 1 on one of them and thought we really had something here.”
In For A Penny kicked off the festivities performing at Tybee’s Irish Heritage Celebration Parade. Next they will be opening for The Peelers at The Jinx on Thursday followed by several days of gigs on River Street, The Rail Pub, World of Beer, and the Sand Bar, so you are bound to catch them somewhere.
The merchandise for In For A Penny reads, “Every day should be St. Paddy’s Day” and the band fully embrace that spirit with their exuberant songs. “We fall into that weird thing where we’re not heavy enough punk to play with the real, real punk bands, but we’re too heavy to play with bands that aren’t punk, so we’re stuck in that weird middle,” McNally said. “The cool part about that is we’ll look out into an audience and see two-year-olds dancing and digging on it and then you see 90-year-olds leaning up against the wall tapping their foot. That’s a huge range of people digging on what you’re doing. That’s the fun part about St. Paddy’s is because everybody wants to come out, everybody wants to have a good time, so all we have to do is throw the party.”