Patriot Act

Although it's Irish-born, Black 47 is an all-American peacemongering band.

Austin Charanghat Robert Lockwood Jr.
Black 47 frontman Larry Kirwan remembers March 17, 2003, all too well. Not only were the Irish punk-rockers celebrating St. Paddy's Day in New York, they were in the middle of a set in a club when U.S. troops invaded Iraq. "We immediately came out against the war," says Kirwan. "At a time when 80 percent of the country was in favor of the war, we thought it was patriotic to stand up against it."That night, the sextet broke out their rendition of Pete Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" The concert quickly turned into a mini-riot of patriotic turmoil. As the war dragged on during the next few months, Kirwan felt the need to put his dissension into song on the band's 12th CD, Iraq. But rather than spouting off his own opinions, he took the lyrics for tunes like "Downtown Baghdad Blues" and "Stars and Stripes" straight from the countless e-mails and letters he received from soldiers overseas. "Last July, when we started to think about an album, no one was really saying what it's like over there in Iraq," says Kirwan. "I didn't want it to be an anti-war album per se, but I wanted to reflect the situation at hand."The dudes aren't strangers to controversy. They've gone on the record to lambaste the violence in Northern Ireland. And they've grown accustomed to the rowdy audiences that their music attracts. "We're in an interesting position, as a band on the fulcrum between left- and right-wing supporters," says Kirwan. "Some of the troops disagree with my personal beliefs, but they're happy that we're writing about them."Kirwan is proud to be the voice behind a disc that spotlights first-hand accounts of bloodshed and battles. "There's just too many ribbons on cars, saying 'I support the troops.' That's fucking great, but we gotta do more," he says. "I wrote this album so that, if you put it on in 20 years, you get a small feeling of what's going on over in Iraq right now." Showtime is at 9 tonight at the Beachland Ballroom, 15711 Waterloo Road. Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door. Call 216-383-1124 or visit
Fri., March 14, 9 p.m., 2008
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About The Author

Vince Grzegorek

Vince Grzegorek has been with Scene since 2007 and editor-in-chief since 2012. He previously worked at Discount Drug Mart and Texas Roadhouse.
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