Columbus Irish: Central Ohio Shenanigans
By Molly Truex
How was the band formed, how long have you been together? The Hooligans formed 28 years ago when Bob Cain and I were sitting watching and listening to our Irish music heroes. This was on a Shamrock Club sponsored trip to the Meadowlands in New Jersey in summer 1992. We listened and were inspired by the power and fun the Clancy Brothers, Furey Brothers and the Wolfe Tones delivered.
We were both former members of the band O’Sheridan that disbanded in 1991. So the Hooligans began right there in New Jersey when Bob and I decided to try it again. Kevin Cain was on board immediately and our pal Jim Wade joined shortly after. We all loved to sing and it is the bands fundamental element. Joe Lovett joined us after one of our two engagements with The Chieftains. Patrick Rice, our newest member on tenor vocals and Irish fiddle joined before Bob passed in 2017. Bob was forthright to the end. He told us to go get that Rice kid, Patrick to join in his place. That we did and so glad we did.
Have each of you always been musicians or just started? Bob was a choir leader and tenor vocalist and me a bass. Neither of us were musicians although always had that desire. Kevin and Jim are multi-instrumentalists as is our newest member Pat Rice. Joe, our keyboard player was already a seasoned musician when he joined. Since the early days Bob was dubbed rhythm master while I learned the tin whistle from Kevin and started playing the Irish drum – the bodhran.
What has been your most memorable gig? Our first was pretty memorable. We played at one of the outdoor stages at Ameriflora in late 1992. Our show was all fun stuff we loved to play. The crowd consisted of our wives and some parents and two sound folks provided by the park. By the time we finished our first tune the area was SRO and folks singing and clapping along with us. Awesome start. We have played so many that maybe SPD at the New Tara Hall in 1995 – Loaded with folks ready to party and party they did – what a rip roaring time! Many awesome Shamrock Club and AOH appearances are right up there with our favorites too.
What is your best memory, non-show related? The camaraderie we share anytime we are together. That is the best. Traveling to Ireland in 2009 with my wife Kathy, and Kevin and Phyllis Cain and her family. So cool to visit places known to us only in song.
What genre of music do you play the most? Irish Folk mainly. We play a varied mix depending on the crowd and what they may be into. Country, Rock, Bluegrass and show tunes have made it into our shows. We love it and try to bring that feeling of belonging to our audience every time we get to play.
How have you all been staying busy during the Stay at Home order? We still play our instruments, sing, and listen to music. We all work around our homes and of course, all five of us work from home mostly, with Kevin and Patrick being the exception as they need to go in from time to time.
Hanging with family and being safe. We’re in the danger zone of over 60 so we need to be. Patrick is the exception – and we all live vicariously through him.
What is your dream gig? To play in front of a large friendly crowd of Irish music fans on a beautiful day with everyone singing along with us. To put on the most enjoyable and memorable music extravaganza with the Hooligans as the headliner. Paul McCartney would warm up for us ! Oh, and at least three producers would rush our stage afterward with a recording deal and our own variety show !
Dream big they say ! That would be awesome
If people want to come to see you where can they find listings of your shows? On our website:
How was the band formed, how long have you been together?
We met in college in 1986 and started playing together right away, then found traditional Irish music when we met The Boys of the Lough. We discovered the joy of sessions at Sound Alternatives (RIP) and Hap’s Irish Pub in Cincinnati, then played our first gig as Changeling in 1993 at Joseph Beth bookstore.
Have each of you always been musicians or just started?
We’ve both been playing and singing since we were kids. Our parents and grandparents all sang and played, so we came by it naturally. Deborah used to lie under her dad’s piano when he was practicing, and Karl’s grandfather had a band with their own radio show long ago in Puerto Rico.
What has been your most memorable gig?
There have been so many! Once we were playing a packed house at the Dayton Celtic Festival with our baby daughter asleep in a backpack. She woke up in the middle of the finale, yawned, and gave a sleepy wave to the crowd. The entire place came down – magic. Another time, we were astounded to find ourselves playing an Irish pub in Toulouse, France. Deborah was limping along with her high school French when Karl decided to try Spanish. All of a sudden, the crowd started laughing at our jokes.
What is your best memory, non-show related?
Karl’s favorite memory is during our 2006 tour of England when we went to the Lichfield Shrove Tuesday Pancake Races. It’s a race on the day we call Mardis Gras. The people of the town run through the cobblestoned streets with cast iron pans flipping pancakes. Deborah’s favorite memory is learning tunes in session with friends in the old bandshell in Cincinnati’s Ault Park late at night when the park was closed.
What genre of music do you play the most?
We play Feel Fantastic Traditional Irish Music, from Kaboom to Ahhhhh.
How have you all been staying busy during the Stay at Home order?
Musically, we have played a Facebook Live show for the Pittsburgh Irish Festival series and played for the evolving backyard music scene here in our home village. Mostly, we’re running after our kids and noticing how much we all miss summer camp.
What is your dream gig?
A combination of theaters, festivals, dances, and teaching at camps. We love to bring music to people in lots of settings, because each has its charm. Deborah’s dream gig is to play a private beach party on a pacific island.