Wednesday, January 16, 2008


July 1997

Looking out the window...
I see a stand of mighty oaks. They must be over two hundred years old - mere saplings at the time the United States of America was struggling to be born; the days of our founding fathers.

Conducting a little research into that particular era, I came across some little known quotes uttered by some of our most memorable patriots.

George Washington at Valley Forge: "Get Private Heck in here! I think he's stolen my teeth again!"

John Hancock spoke these words before signing the Declaration of Independence: "Give me that document and let me put my Sam Adams on it. Beer, anyone?"

Ben Franklin: "No, I didn't get it permed! It was that damned experiment with the kite and the key!"

Thomas Paine: "These are the times that try men's soles. Look at these boots! I've only had them for two weeks and they're rotting off my feet!"

Patrick Henry: "Give me liberty, or give me a double scotch on the rocks! This has been one hell of a day!"

Nathan Hale after the British caught him spying: "Would you believe I'm just a school teacher? No? Then, would you believe I'm General Burgoyne's cousin? No? Would you believe I'm an Indian?..Oops, sorry about that chief."

My research and the above quotes came from "The
Distorted History of the United States". Right!

So, just kick back, have another cup of coffee and see what you can see looking out the window.

January 2008 - Some of the places we were playing at the time have, also made their way into the shadows of history.

The Jockey Club in Taunton, MA was a respectable lunch and dinner establishment until we arrived on scene on an occasional Friday night.

Molly Malone's, located in the Sheraton Tara, in Braintree, MA, was a delightful venue. Being a hotel, we never knew what kind of an audience would show up. It kept us on our toes. And being a five day gig, it kept our bills paid.

It was at Molly's that we met some members of the cast of "Star Wars". Kenny Baker (R2D2) got on stage and played harmonica with us. We had a great conversation with Chewbacca. (I've probably screwed up the spelling) We understood every word he said.

Keep a good thought and don't cuss the dog.

Dick Lewis

Sunday, January 6, 2008

LOOKING (back) OUT THE WINDOW - January 6, 2008

Years ago (1980, 1981) when Shananagans first began compiling a mailing list, we utilized bulk mailing. What a pain in the ass that was sorting out in-state and out of state addresses (almost three hundred) by zip codes. Then throwing all caution and incurred expense to the wind, we mailed the schedules out first class. It was a little easier, but it wasn't fool proof and I still couldn't replace the hair I'd pulled out in fits of 'bulk mail frustration'. By the time I'd licked three hundred first class stamps, my tongue felt like the morning after, cubed. Thank the powers that be that they finally came up with the self-adhesive variety.

After sending out several early mailings, we thought they looked a bit sterile, so we started writing short, witty blurbs to spice up the schedules. These treatises were entitled, LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW. Even with the new look, the damned things never got out on time (partly my fault, partly the fault of having to wait for confirmation of gigs. Oh, okay. I'll take the blame). When they did get out on time some people had moved away (permanently), while others had simply dropped off the Shananagans radar.

Well, here we are smack dab in the midst of the modern age of computers and guess what? Yup! We're going to begin featuring LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW again - some new, some old. We'll count this as the first one of this decade. Has it been that long?
I'm going to list the members of Shananagans as they appeared on the scene from the very beginning.

I'm looking out the window and I can see...Tom Kennedy and Ed Dillon. They were the founding members of Shananagans, and they began singing as duo under the name of "Dillon (Dillion, Dylan, Dolan) and Kennedy" back in the late 70's. CATCH THEM AT THE GROUND ROUND!
Bruce Foley began playing with K & D not long after the duo had kicked out the footlights at the Ground Round and various other joints that were hiring the growing wave of Irish pub bands. Along with the present strong vocals, guitar and banjo playing of Tom and Ed, Bruce added his own inimitable six-string style and penny whistle. His voice fit right in. The newly formed trio sang under the equally catchy name of Kennedy, Dillon (Dillion, Dylan, Dolan), and Foley. CATCH THEM AT THE WHALING CITY FESTIVAL!

They eventually changed the name of the group one night in a pub, relating drunken tales of the crazy shenanigans they'd pulled while attending their respective ivy-walled halls of higher learning. That's right, we all have degrees and most of our teeth.
Bruce got smart and married an intelligent, spirited, beautiful girl named Maggie. They moved to Pittsburgh and that's where I came in. My name is Dick Lewis and I became an official Shananagan in 1980.

Just before I joined the trio, John Heck had ably stepped in to cover Bruce's escape. This cantakerous, curmudgeon played fiddle like his hair was on fire, but without body movement or facial expression, if that makes any sense. His extemporaneous fills and leads were, and remain, stylish and tasteful, not to mention inspired and exciting. He's been with the group, off and on, for the better part of thirty years.
Whenever John got sick of us or got a "real" job, there never seemed to be an end to the talent that the Shananagans attracted. It couldn't have been our looks and so it remains a mystery to this day.

Leo Hammel fiddled with us for a spell, smoking his pipe and struggling in that pesky key of EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEgad! Hand him that banjo! "Have another drink, Leo. It's your birthday." Unfortunately he rode home with me that night. I wore out my brakes stopping every fifteen yards so Leo could...well, you get the picture.

Alex (Sandy) Mitchell strode in to play a monster electric fiddle. It was unlike any sound we had ever dreamed of. We liked it. Along with the fiddle, he played mandolin and guitar. He left us after a short stay. The next time I saw him I was in a movie theater watching the Civil War epic, "Gettysburg". He was the Union soldier in camp playing fiddle. I didn't know it until I saw his name roll last in the credits. Then I had to go out and buy the damned movie just so I could see that particular part, again.

During a trip to Ireland, Tom took a tour of the Guinness Brewery. He met one of the managers of the Dublin facility and asked where he might find an Irish session. The man's name was Mullen and he said his son was playing in a session later that day. To make a long story short, Tom went to the session, met Fergal Mullen and promptly offered him work with the band. He played fiddle with us for a couple of years. He especially liked playing at the Black Rose. The stage is situated right in front of a big window. People look in and the band can turn around and look out...if the crowd sucks. We were playing there one night and in the middle of a song we paused our singing to allow Ferg to play his solo. Nothing. We turned around and he was ogling some young thing that happened to be walking by the joint. Ah, youth. Now he's got a wife, three kids and more money than God. He lives in Switzerland. See, rub our heads and were good luck.

Joe Zajac, picker of banjo, mandolin and guitar, plays with us now and has for over fifteen years. He's a great talent; good voice, good ear, good friend. He used to come and see us at Fiddler's Green, a local pub, when he was in high school. Little did we know at the time that he would turn out to be our lead man. Here's to you, Joe and thank the Lord that you never got caught.

Tom Kennedy is my brother, same mother, different fathers, therefore, the different last names. He plays guitar, whistle and bass, has a great voice and continues to be a moving force behind the band. I'm looking forward to his contributions to this LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW blog.

Blog! I never thought I would be blogging, blut one never knows. I, at least, now have my elbow in the twenty-first century.

We're thinking about having a thirty year reunion. Will let you know what comes up.

Until the next episode of LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW, keep a good thought and cut your toe nails.

Dick Lewis


Hello friends,
Welcome to the blog space of Uncle Tubby Productions. It is here I will be reviving the Looking out the Window column. Please check back often.