Stagger this way w/The Staggering Cardoons

Morgantown’s Staggering Cardoons release their debut CD Thundermug Thursday at 123 Pleasant Street

Stagger: (noun) From Old Norse “stakra” (to push) -- An unsteady movement of the body when walking or standing, often in the plural: the stagger of the drunken man.

Cardoon: (noun) From Latin “carduus” (“thistle“) -- A belligerent, drunken fool with a music problem.

As St. Patrick’s Day draws near and the beer gets dyed green and your alcoholism seems a little less raging, The Staggering Cardoons, six guys from Morgantown, prepare to celebrate by releasing their debut CD Thundermug at 123 Pleasant Street Thursday night.

While their name may come from old Nordic and Latin, their version of traditional acoustic-driven Celt rock -- closer to Flogging Molly than Dropkick Murphy’s -- evolved out of their love of bands like CCR, Johnny Cash and Social Distortion, and they say, fits right in here in Appalachia.

“It gives people a chance to hear the music from their heritage in a new and exciting form,” singer Chris Herrington said. “Pride of where you come from should always influence you and that’s why we call it Appalachian rock.”

The important role of the Scots-Irish in settling our fair region, and the concordant outgrowth of bluegrass, is well established. Something else that is well established is the mythical tendency of the Irish to both drink and fight in Herculean fashion. That, and sing rousing sing-alongs in the pubs.

“The thing I can tell you is that it’s difficult to not like Irish music, be it traditional or in modern punk,” drummer Alex Baker said. “There’s just something about it that truly drives you, from your drinking fist down to your soul.”

Baker’s not ready to get all Ken Burns on us though.

“I don’t think that the settlers history has as much of an impact as does the fact that we play in a college town. The music is often fast, always strong, speaks to the heart, and definitely motivates people to do the one thing college students excel at nationwide: Drinking!”

Herrington described the nebulous and casual formation of the Cardoons, which started with Erik Rieder and Michael Brown hanging out jamming. “…in all honesty we’re all friends, and played together at parties on back porches and camping. So we decided to commit to writing and playing our own music for people.”

The Cardoons, together for three years now and having settled into their Appalachian/Celtic acoustic pub rock sound, took their act into Mark Poole’s Zone 8 Studios in Granville last year to record Thundermug.

“Mark was awesome, and took great care of us throughout the entire process,” Herrington said. “We recorded in three sessions (two in August and one in December) adding up to about 20 hours. There will be 11 songs on the album, nine being ours and two traditional.”

“Never have I sat at a drumset with so many microphones,” Baker said. “He put three on my snare alone because, as he explained to me, ‘There are many a night that I lie awake in bed obsessing about how I can better record a drumset’s sound.’ The man is a genius in his art, and definitely produced a fine recording for us.”

The Cardoons have honed their sound in smaller, more quaint venues in Magic Town, like McClafferty’s Irish Pub and Gene’s Beer Garden, fittingly enough.

“McClafferty’s, like many in the band joke about, is our living room,” Baker admitted. “We practically live and even eat there. McClafferty’s is one of our favorite venues, because most of our friends hang out there, and any night we play there, we play to a packed house. Gene’s has become a new favorite for us, too. Al Bonner has been pursuing us to play there again since we last did during Gene’s Bonneroo-Fest, and when we played there recently with our good friend Billy Matheny, we not only packed the house, but kicked three kegs (that means we did well!).”

“Playing at Gene’s was a different experience, putting us dangerously close to the crowd which proved to be one of the most exhilarating experiences. I also had to play on a drumset half the size of my normal one due to stage size limitations, and while it proved to be one of the most challenging shows I’ve done, it also proved to be one of the most fun shows, too.”

Their friend Matheny is scheduled to join the Cardoons for the 123 release show, along with Columbus, Ohio stoner rock outfit Lo-Pan. So throw out the names and get ready to raise your glass, Baker said.

“Bands come and go, and names are not really important, but the thing that’s important is being a part of the Cardoons is a freakin’ blast! Never has my liver taken quite a beating!”

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