Dropkick Murphys

Friends to the Working Class 

by Paul Piwko and Sarah Bromley

The Murphys started in Boston in the mid-90s as a band of young men from working class and union households. Says vocalist and bassist Ken Casey, a founding member: “We were singing about real life stuff at a time when [the] standard 18 year-old punk rock message [was] ‘Fauthority’ and ‘F- the police’.” The Murphys’ “real life” lyrics hit home with fans from backgrounds similar to their own. “People from that walk of life started to gravitate towards the band, and in the early days—back in the mid-’90s—places like Detroit, where labor issues are real life and death stuff, were our biggest footholds.”
 
In 2001, the AFL-CIO asked the Murphys to perform for its Labor Day festival. Casey humbly recalls his disbelief: “Wow! For a punk band that started out playing at the Rat in Boston to be playing at the AFL-CIO headquarters with President Sweeney introducing you is a pretty wild progression.”
 
As the Murphys’ fan base has grown, so has their ability to influence a broader group of people. Perhaps coincidentally, just as economic insecurity has crept from blue collar into white collar demographics, the Murphys now draw a similarly more diverse crowd. Fans include parents and teens from every class. The band is reaching an age group that labor unions very much need to reach. “A lot of these kids would have never been confronted by [labor struggles], but you have a kid that maybe is from an affluent family,and really it’s not a life or death struggle for him, but … he sees what’s right and wrong and maybe from a political standpoint says, ‘Wow, this is something I want to be involved in.'”

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