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Dicky Barrett of Mighty Mighty Bosstones talks Birthday Bash in Boston June 21

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Start summer right with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, as they take the stage at Boston City Hall Plaza for an exclusive performance celebrating lead singer Dicky Barrett’s Birthday Bash on Saturday, June 21, part of Phantom Gourmet’s first ever BBQ & Music Festival. The show starts at 6 p.m. Get tickets by clicking here or visit phantomgourmet.com.

I’m Jeanne Denizard and I have the honor of speaking with Dicky Barrett, lead singer of the ‘Mighty Mighty Bosstones.’

I wanted to discuss the origins of the band as well and a bit about the Mighty Mighty Bosstones Hometown Throwdown because that was one of my favorite concerts.

The Hometown Throwdown started many years ago. We had been touring a lot and we hadn’t played Boston. It’s our favorite place to play and where we’re from and the city we love so much. We said let’s do something special, a week of shows in Boston.

At the time, The Middle East club was our favorite place to play and we’ll do a week of shows there. We’ll do it in the summertime, and that was simultaneously a great idea and a horrible idea. It was so damn hot. It’s hot at the Middle East club in the winter!

The next year, we said why don’t we make this a Christmas present to the city of Boston and ourselves as well and make it a holiday event. We did a week of shows at the Middle East club and around Christmas time the next year. We invited the bands we had been playing with all throughout the year with different bands every night. Now, we do three or four shows. At the House of Blues on Lansdowne Street, those have been very successful and a lot of fun and a really good way to spend the holidays.

Did you ever imagine that it would become such a tradition and develop a life of its own?

No, I never imagined, but I enjoyed the process as it was becoming a tradition for Mighty, Mighty Bosstones. We’re very much a family. It is a terrific way to get us all together for the holidays. Not just our Boston fans, people fly in from all over the world to come to it now.
Well, it’s definitely one of those shows where you can expect the unexpected.

Yes, that’s very well put, thank you.

You can go to an average concert and then you can go to your concert. I think that it’s so much fun and innovative. It’s just very different and cool. How did you discover your sound? Were you always a fan of ska?

I remember going to see the ‘English Beat’ at the Orpheum theatre in Boston the first time I heard ska music. I kind of knew about it, and I liked the music of ‘The Specials’ and the English two tone movement of the late 70s early 80s. I saw the ‘English Beat’ and I said, ‘Wow, this is fantastic!’ I fell in love with ‘Madness’ and those bands from England. Then I discovered all the Jamaican stuff that came before that. It just seemed like music for me.

At that time and throughout our lives, we had noticed so many other different types of music that we liked. We’re big fans of punk rock and there are metal bands that we love a lot, and traditional rock and roll bands that we like, so we didn’t ever want to limit ourselves. We invented our own sound and came up with our own bastardized but heavily ska-influenced sound, which we refer to as Ska core I guess, or we’d rather be called Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ music. Other bands join in and play it as well and bring their own special unique brand of it.

Your music definitely brought that genre to the forefront.

Maybe so. If we were people’s entry into the world of ska music and through us they discovered the vast and many great musicians and bands that make ska music then I’m proud of that as well. If that’s something we did, then terrific. There are masters of ska music and there are people that live and breathe and bleed ska music. There are people in Jamaica that still make some of the finest ska music, and over the world. It’s that kind of music.

What music are you a big fan of now?

I’ve always liked punk rock. I like classic rock from the 70s. I like radio music from the 70s, all the horrible am music from the 70s. I live for that and I’ve always liked it and I always will.
I like the band that we’re playing with this weekend, ‘The Gaslight Anthem.’ I think they make tremendous records. They’ve got some new music coming out right now. It’s really, really good.

I wanted to get into the event as well, ‘The Gaslight Anthem,’ Barrence Whitfield and the Savages’ are going to be a part of this weekend. This is going to be kicking off on Friday June 20th, but the 21st is the Big Birthday bash and it happens to be on the first day of summer. Tell me how this came about and how you got involved in the Phantom Gourmet BBQ & Music Festival.

Last year, we did a festival “Out of the Box” on the Boston Common. We loved it. We do the Hometown Throwdown every winter and then we were invited to play this ‘Out of the Box’ festival and it was great. We had a fantastic time. It was an outdoor kind of feel good Boston gathering, and we liked being there and doing that at that time in the summer.
Then they said they weren’t going to do the ‘Out of the Box Festival’ again. Then in a real strange coincidence, Joe Gittleman was planning some sort of event for my birthday, whether it was our families get together and have a party in Boston or some sort of a smaller show and celebrate my birthday. Joe is the best friend anybody could ask for. We’re like brothers.

The Phantom Gourmet wanted to add music to an event they’d been throwing for many years, and said we want to have a concert on the second night of it and asked if we wanted to do it. Joe said yeah, but let’s have more than that. We’ll call it Dicky’s birthday. He’s a real smart guy. It’s a tremendous way to have my birthday catered for very little money. My birthday is the 22nd the show is the 21st. Saturday is a much better party day wouldn’t you say?

Yes, and it kicks off summer so it’s perfect. So what can we expect? Can we expect the hits or surprises?

A little of both. It’ll be a good mixture of the Bosstones throughout the years and a few songs from almost every record. Definitely the hits for people that just dabble in Bosstones music .

I’m sure it’s going to be amazing.

Thank you for saying that. I am too. I have trouble with all the attention that I’m going to get, but then again, I’m extremely excited to be in Boston, I’m excited to be doing this show, in the town and the place and the people I love so much.

The first ever ‘Phantom Gourmet BBQ & Music Festival will take place on Friday, June 20 with Dicky Barrett’s Birthday Bash on Saturday, June 21. Get tickets by clicking here or visit phantomgourmet.com.

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