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A Hook and a beat

Irish band formed through a Craigslist ad. They are in a battle of the bands contest.

December 10, 2009|By Michael Miller

Jason Stout has no intention to be a rock star. The Huntington Beach resident works during the day for a fire sprinkler company, and he insists that his group, the Galway Hooker Band, is just a group of friends playing for fun.

If online voters have their say, though, Stout may feel like a rock star in a few months. His group is a finalist in the Battle of the Bands competition sponsored by Strangford Lough Brewing Co., an Irish beer brand, and the first-place prize is a gig at an upscale restaurant in Las Vegas on St. Patrick’s Day.

It would be a lofty achievement for a band that started a year ago through a Craigslist ad. In November 2008, Stout replied to a posting seeking players for an Irish-style rock band, and the group quickly grew to seven members who play the fiddle, tin whistle and mandolin along with electric guitar and drums.

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“They asked if we wanted to enjoy a few pints of beer and play a little Celtic music,” said Stout, a Huntington Beach High School alumnus. “They were advertising for band members, but in a very nonchalant way.”

Galway Hooker Band’s musical style is eclectic, blending classic Irish folk with heavy rock, and the members are a similarly diverse mix. Lead singer Paddy O’Furniture is studying to be a surgical technician, while guitarist Paul Bennett sells fire protection equipment. The band’s youngest and only female member is Veronica Mullins, a sound engineering major at Golden West College.

It may be an unlikely crew, but its sound impressed Greg Coleman, the owner of Fitzgeralds in Huntington Beach, so much that he made Galway Hooker his house band earlier this year. The band first played at Fitzgeralds as a last-minute substitute when another act canceled, and now plays there once a month.

Coleman said Fitzgeralds had never had a house band for more than a month or two, but once the crowds started forming for Galway Hooker, he knew he had a winner.

“Everybody just has a good time when they come out and play,” he said. “It’s always fun. I think a lot of the people that follow them, they’re married and they don’t get out much, so that’s their night out.”

Stout defines Galway Hooker’s sound as “between the Pogues and Flogging Molly,” citing another pair of Irish rock bands. He and his bandmates also count the Young Dubliners and Van Morrison as influences.

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