The Ruffians “Together for Christmas”
by Jim DeGrogatis (Chicago Sun Times December 2002)

(3 and a half stars out of four) 
Now this is my idea of a rockin’ Xmas disc! Irish punk-rockers the Ruffians (think of an American, Gen Y version of the Pogues) keep a running theme through the five songs on this seasonal EP – it opens with “Sleep It Off, Gramps” and closes with “(Christmas is Cancelled) Sucks to Be Sober” – and the music (as well as the sentiments) will still sound fresh in every sense of that word by mid-January, which is when the hangover should be wearing off.

The Ruffians “Together for Christmas”
by Tom Knapp ( December 2002)

It starts with a lilting Irish rendition of “Christmas in Killarney”. But “Grampa” is quickly sent packing and the Ruffians turn the Celtic Christmas carol into a head-banging, punkish slam.
No offense intended, boys – the hard-driving track rocks with unrelenting energy and, even under its unquestionable rock umbrella, manages to make effective use of traditional instrumentation in the mix. It's the first song on a too-brief Christmas EP from the Ruffians, a New York Irish pub band with electricity to spare.
The Ruffians are Sean Griffin (guitar, vocals, bodhran), Dan Griffin (bass), Jerome Morris (percussion), Charles Butler (banjo), Kevin Meehan (button accordion) and Scott Mettey (uilleann pipes, fiddle, tin whistle). After their reinterpretation of an Irish traditional song, they follow up with three original songs (I hesitate to call them “carols”): “Together at Christmas,” “Naughty List” and “Christmas is Cancelled/Sucks to be Sober.”
It's hard-rocking holiday fun from the Ruffians – let's hear more from this band. (And no more of these pesky EPs!)

The Ruffians “Together for Christmas”
NY Daily News December 2002

(3 and a half stars out of four)
The Ruffians, “Together for Christmas” (self-pressed). Only five songs and 14 minutes, but an entertaining, hard-edged look at the season from these Irish rockers.


The Ruffians “Together for Christmas” December 2002

Based in New York, The Ruffians perform modern Celtic music that is fairly characteristic of punk music. However, The Ruffians create pleasant tunes with humorous lyrics that draw upon traditional Celtic elements. Bodhran, guitar, bass, banjo, button accordion, Uilleann Pipes, fiddle and tin whistle are accompanied by male vocals. Unfortunately, Together For Christmas is a rather short album of only fifteen minutes. Fans of Celtic punk/rock reminiscent of Seven Nations will definitely relish The Ruffians.


The Ruffians “Together for Christmas”
Off the Record by Mike Farragher, Irish Voice - December 2001

The Ruffians have just released their second independent EP “Together for Christmas.” They rushed into the studio to complete this 5 track CD just in time for the holidays, and will be donating all proceeds to the victims of the World Trade Center tragedy. The Ruffians are Sean Griffin (Lead Vocals,Guitars,Bodhran), Dan Griffin (Bass,Vocals), Jerome Morris (Drums), Charles Butler (Banjo), Kevin Meehan (Button Accordian), and Scott Mettey (Uillean Pipes,Fiddle,Whistle).

The band brings an exhilarating “devil-may-care” punk snarl to the chestnut “Christmas in Killarney.” They also wrote some pub-ready originals for this disc, including the sweet “Naughty List.” The disc features a “hidden track” as a bonus. I'd like to tell you what it is, but that would be akin to telling you what you got for Christmas.

The band has the high praise of their peers within the Irish music community. “Shane McGowan and Bing Crosby slept together” and “The Ruffians were born in a hail of porter and cheap whiskey,” says Black 47 singer Larry Kirwan. “Together For Christmas” is a bargain at $6 and is available at many Irish pubs and stores, several tri-state record shops, Virgin Mega Store in Manhattan, and Borders Books.


The Ruffians “Naked and Famous”
Off the Record by Mike Farragher, Irish Voice - August 2000

If you are looking for a meatier portion of Irish music than what you'll find cooking in the Corrs' kitchen, I suggest ordering something from the Ruffians' menu. They've just released “Naked and Famous”, a short collection of six songs packaged in a plain brown sleeve that can do double duty as a drink coaster! This is festive music for people who are perched on a barstool with the sole intention of teaching their livers a lesson. Bad, bad, vital organ!

Within these songs, one can almost taste the stale beer, greasy food, and smoke that weighs heavy in the air of an Irish bar. Tapping bodhrans, banjos, and spindly flute solos frame these tight arrangements. Singer Sean Griffin and his brother Dan (bass) joining forces with Joseph Mulvanerty (uilleann pipes, flute, bodhran) and Brendan Coyle (drums) to form the Ruffians in an Irish pub (are we detecting a theme here?) two years ago.

My only complaint about the disc is they stopped at six songs. “More to Life” is a side-splitting ditty that opens the collection. In classic jig-punk style, they inform the listener that “there's more to life than bad romance/and taking off your underpants/and angry father chasing after me” They grumble about the shallow gold-digging girls that elude their grasp in “She Married Him for the Money” while “The Banker” scoffs at the rich.

Just when you think you’ve pegged the Ruffians as a quaint little Irish rock band, they'll hit you right between the eyes with a piss and vinegar punk version of the traditional tune “I Never Will Marry”. Singer Sean Griffin snarls “I never will marry/I'll take me no wife/I'm damned to stay single/for the rest of my life” before an angry uilleann pipe solo slices into the mix. This chaotic musical performance is more like a set of pipes being tossed down a flight stairs, along with the last gal that tried to make a husband out of one of the Ruffians.


The Ruffians “Naked and Famous”
by John Murphy/Sean Holland (Shite n'Onions - December 2001)

The Ruffians are a young Celtic Rock band from the NY area, who've been giging in and around the Tri State area since ‘98, regulars at Black 47’s NYC gigs should be well familiar with them. The basis of the band is brothers Sean (Guitar, Vocals, Bodhran) and Dan Griffin (Bass), Jerome Morris (Drums, Percussion) and Charles Butler (Banjo) assisted by guest traditional players (Uileann Pipes, Fiddle, Button Accordion and Tin Whistle) to fill out the trad.

“Naked & Famous” is a six-track (well five and a half really) EP debut. The first couple of tracks sound like they are live favorite’s (especially “More To Life”, a tale of Saturday night drinking and Sunday morning Catholicism) but they didn’t quite make that jump to CD as well as they could have. Things start getting interesting on the third track “Drunk Again”, with it’s Brit Pop crossed with Irish sound, imagine the Pogues kidnapping Morrissey, getting him real drunk and making him sing for them. “The Banker” is the best original, a slow powerful one with some really great uileann pipes. “All The Girls”, the half-track and introduction for “Never Will Marry” is similar to Flogging Molly's “Grace Of God Go I” (with vocals almost as powerful as Mr. King’'s). The final track is “Never Will Marry” an American/Irish folk standard but this version is a riff driven fuckin rocker with uileann pipes replacing the guitar solo. Linda Ronstadt never played it like this — excellent. A good young band with plenty of potential.


 The Ruffians “Official Bootleg; Live at CBGB’s”
Off the Record by Mike Farragher, Irish Voice - November 2004

If you like your Irish music delivered on a speeding Guinness truck that has lost its breaks, I’ve got a disc for you. The Ruffians have released Live at CBGBs, and it finds the band worthy of gracing the stage that launched the likes of the Ramones and Talking Heads at Manhattan’s temple of punk. This is 43:27 of gloriously ragged playing, in the style of the Pogues and Popes. 

“We did it at CBGBS one night, pressed it, and put it out a week later,” explains singer Sean Griffin. “There’s no studio overdubbing; it’s right from the board. It really does capture the Ruffians sound, so if there are people out there that have recordings from our past shows, throw those out and put this on!”

The band offers a decidedly Irish American take on standards like “Jug O Punch,” which sounds like it was shot out of a cannon to an unsuspecting crowd. 

“I Never Will Marry” should be an anthem for perpetual bachelorhood, and it is indicative of the devilish take on traditional music that permeates this collection. This love of Celtic culture can be attributed to the deep cultural ties that brothers Sean and Danny (he plays bass).

“We were always around Irish music,” says Sean. “My mother played the accordion and my father is an Irish singer. We did all the step dancing and everything, so we were always right in the middle of Irishness growing up. I think mom had this vision of all of us singing the way we did at church, so she’s had to get used to the punk thing!” 

Pete Cadis, who twirled the knobs for the last two Interpol records, is working with the band as they ready their next studio release. A big name producer will probably propel this great band into greatness, so pick up Live at CBGBs while you can still say “I knew them when.” 

“Live at CBGBs: The Official Bootleg”
by Kate Danemark, May 2004,

When the Ruffians released their EP Together For Christmas, I was at the point where I was ready to take down the next person who dared to play “Silent Night” at me. (Not to mention those who claim It's a Wonderful Life as their favorite movie; they’re in mortal danger at all times of the year.) So what a blessed relief it was to hear “Christmas in Killarney” the Ruffians’ way. Punk-rock Christmas, yeah!

Of course, that experience left me tapping my feet (with impatience this time) for the next release from these New York tough guys, never questioning that it would rock.

Sort of it does, in a flat, under-edited sort of way. It's unquestionably a live CD, as all the background noise confirms. I bet the show itself was hard-core, totally. But this “official bootleg” comes off sounding like something someone with a tape recorder in his pocket and unsophisticated recording technology at home might distribute on the Internet. Bootleg for sure.

It starts off with the more punk than palatable “My True Love.” Whomever she is, she'll never be able to find her name in these mush-mouth lyrics. The third track, “Moving On,” I've grown to kind of like with its catchy arrangement of mouth music. I'm a little afraid to promote it, though, because I suspect that somewhere in there, some particularly nasty things might be said. So don't hold me to account for anything you might decipher.

I’m disappointed, but I'm not holding this CD against them. Live recording, even at this venerated locale, might not have been the best choice, but there's real talent in this band. Even without the benefit of studio editing it's clear they can play, and their shows have got to be wild. It's the kind of music that makes you want to find a mosh pit quick, and maybe it's partly a lack of bodies to surf that's missing here. No doubt I'll be scoping their website and watching for tour dates; I'd like to see what they can do with a crowd.

Meanwhile I’m wearing my promo t-shirt (ah, the benefits of being press!) and holding out for their next offering. I’m confident they can win me back.

Press Release: Live at CBGB Album and Release party

New York City—The Ruffians will be releasing their newest CD, Live @ CBGB’s, on Friday, in stores on April 30, 2004. Being hailed as the official Ruffians bootleg, the CD features selections from a set recorded live at CBGB’s in March. With songs like “Movin’ On”, “The Banker”, “Never Will Marry” and “More to Life”, the Ruffians open a window into a day in the life of an Irish punk band breaking into the New York City music scene.

Formed in 1998, The Ruffians took the opportunity to show the world that they too can make a name for themselves at the legendary CBGB’s, a punk venue known for performances by The Ramones, Talking Heads and many others. Described as the “Y-generation Pogues” by the Chicago Sun Times, The Ruffians are taking New York City by storm with Live @ CBGB’s.

Fans on the official mailing list had the chance to purchase the CD before the release date. Those who purchased the early release received an autographed copy directly from the band as a special thank you for their ongoing support. No doubt a future collector’s item in the making!

The Ruffians have also announced a CD release party at the famed CBGB’s on Saturday, April 24, 2004 at 11:00 p.m. Check the website for more details or call CBGB’s at (212) 982-4052.

The Ruffians “Together for Christmas”
by Art Ettinger (Punk Planet #55 May/June 2003)

This silly EP is a small batch of punky Irish Christmas tunes. It’s neither as cheesy as Flogging Molly nor as hard as Dropkick Murphys, but it’s definately a sign of the Irish punk times. This gimmicky EP is going to please anyone into both Irish music and punk.


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