A Chicano band from Boyle Heights celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with a Celtic punk performance

Mar 18, 2013

Ollin at the Satellite/ Photos by Nathan Solis

By Nathan Solis

The St. Patrick’s Day celebration at The Satellite in Silver Lake on Sunday had many of the classic trappings of the holiday, with the crowd breaking out into impromptu Irish jigs and people swinging on each others’ arms. But, on stage, the Boyle Heights band Ollin celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in its own way, honoring The Pogues, the Irish punk band formed in the 1980s, with an old world folk/punk interpretation of the album “Rum, Sodomy and The Lash.”

Ollin has honored The Pogues every St. Patrick’s Day since 2003. Though it may seem like a leap for a group of Chicano musicians from Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles to play Celtic rock, it’s actually very natural for the band.

“We’ve been playing music with punk rock roots, but on acoustic instruments, for years,” says Scott Rodarte, who plays in the band with his brother Randy. “When we first started, we were rocking it and crashing and burning, but loving it.”

The intensity at Sunday’s show certainly lent itself to the punk rock dynasty of loud and fast, the guys in Ollin bulldozing through their set of The Pogues’ album “Rum, Sodomy and The Lash” with such fervor that they were sweating and falling to the floor long before the intermission.

Why The Pogues?

Scott explains how punk shows connect older and newer generations. When Ollin started playing world folk music, people would call them the Mexican Pogues, and they began listening to the Celtic band and got the wild idea to give it a try.

His brother Randy explained it a bit differently at the show: “What draws us to these songs is the struggle of the working class. They’re not necessarily the same things we’ve gone through, but it’s the stories that these songs tell.”

Ollin, taken from the Aztec phrase of describing nature shaping the environment, formed in 1994 after the Northridge earthquake. Though they didn’t have a name at the time, the band members knew they were going to play traditional world folk music loud and fast. The band is on a hiatus of sorts, and when Scott spoke on the phone a few days before the show his daughter’s voice rang from the background.

“I’m trying not to get out too much now. I’m still involved with music, but now I have a daughter,” said Scott, founder of The Brooklyn Music Center studio space in Boyle Heights. But “we’re all still punk, still involved in music. We still have a foot in that scene.”

Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.

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