by James Fleming

Galway is a very cool city. Populated by just over 75,000 people, it’s amazing just how many artists, musicians, writers and various other interesting and bohemian people it attracts.

The other thing that makes Galway so cool, is how open it is. Gay pride parades are a regular occurrence, different protests and demonstrations come along every couple of weeks, always well attended. One of the major plus sides to this openness, is you can conduct an interview on a bench and no one bats an eye.

Spud (that’s the only name he gave) is the driving force behind the remarkable Galway Street Club, the finest buskers this city has seen in a long time. They’re raw, gritty, the way their brand of acoustic music should be. They cover Tom Waits, The mighty Dropkick Murphys, Pink Floyd. And they do the best version of ‘Misirlou,’ since Dick Dale himself laid down the track in 1962.

The band all started out busking separately, and as Spud explains, there was never a definite moment where the band formed: “There wasn’t really a start date per sé. I went out for a night busk one time and Josef, the accordion player, and the cajón player were sitting there busking, and I asked when they were gonna be done. They said ‘do you want to just jam for a while?’ So we started, and then we brought the banjo player in and we called our band the Alcoholics.”

They plugged away busking as a foursome before they added a second cajón player who was in another band called the Lads With No Name. The two groups merged, and the earliest incarnation of the Galway Street Club was born.

“And we were just jamming, just having fun.” Spud explains that they weren’t really a band, more of a ‘jamming club,’ hence their name. After the Club won the open mic night at our famous Róisín Dubh, they decided ‘let’s make this a thing’. And the Club as we know it today came into being.

Going down the busking route wasn’t a choice, it’s just what they do. “None of us have jobs, none of us get the dole, we play music. So we do a bit of gigs here and there, but we busk for the most part for our living.”

Spud was born stateside, where busking is not nearly as popular as it is here. Since coming to Ireland, that’s how he has made ends meet.

“When I was in the states, I was touring around and playing with different bands.” Spud is a seasoned musician, he even went to college for it. He’s not some bullshit artist playing the same 4 chords or ‘Wonderwall,’ over and over again, a trap many buskers fall into.

And that’s what really sets Galway Street Club apart from our other performers. All they do is their own thing. And people love it. With over 5,000 likes on Facebook, they have a dedicated following here in Ireland. The tourists must love ‘em too.

“It’s just the way we are. I think the quality is in ourselves and in our music.” Spud reckons that their grittiness is what drew all of them together. That raw vein that runs through their music. “That’s what we do by ourselves, and that’s what I do in my small bands.”

The success has come as a shock to Spud. Their Facebook page got over a thousand like in less than a month and during a gig at the Róisín, they had to shut off the entrance because they couldn’t let any more people in. “That’s what keeps us going out here every day on the street, keeps us practising. We’re just in awe of the fact that people are loving this so much. We’re having a blast because we’ve never done something like this before.”

The Galway Street Club are playing Rock the Docks this Friday. Get your tickets at www.monroes.ie.