Every December between Christmas and News Years, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones host their yearly “Hometown Throwdown” Series at Boston’s House of Blues. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones were formed in Boston during the 1980’s with the majority of their members are from New England. The Hometown Throwdown provides an opportunity for the M.M.B. to return to their roots, pay tribute to the fans who stood in local venues, and supported them throughout their careers. Generations of fans over three decades attend attracted to the bands collaborations of jazz, reggae, punk, and ska all in one set. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones bring back all the years of hard riffs, instantly changing the pace with slow jams and heavy bass. Dicky Barret is still there to remind us of all the memories, the loved ones that got away, but instantly picks the fan right up where they left off at The Throwdown.
I began listening to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones in 2005 from their famous radio single “The Impression that I Get” and their final album “Jack Knife Through a Swan.” My first Mighty Mighty Bosstones concert, was the summer of 2008, at Lelacheur Baseball Park, in Lowell. It was their first return concert after a brief breakup, opening ahead of the Dropkick Murphy’s, and letting Massachusetts know they were back from a ballpark outfield. In 2009, while working at a Modell’s Sporting Goods store, where I made friends with the Drummer of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Joey “The Kid” Sirois’s nephew, Nick Messier. Nick and I hit it off, as he talked to me about his Uncle Joe living out in LA, his excitement for the band being back, and suggested that someday we’d catch a show.
My first Hometown Throwdown was December 27th 2010, the second show of the three part series, at the traditional venue, Boston’s House of Blues. The veteran, punk band, Less Than Jake, opened for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. When the curtain opened for the main act, a back round of black and white skinned Santas, stacked on one another, notes of the music translating lighting circulating through their interiors, as the M.M.B. ignited their show. After the performance, Nick texted me to come up to the backstage entrance, and that I could bring my friend. We were stopped at the gate by security until Joey “The Kid” Sirois came to the entrance to clarify that we were OK to enter. I couldn’t believe it, I was standing feet away from multiple members of the band, casually hanging out in their checkered, flanneled, holiday themed, suit jackets, probably easing into much more mellow nights at their age, after the years of partying from the past.
Nick chatted with his Uncle Joe as we stood huddled in the dense passageway of the backstage. It became clear why he was called Joey “The Kid” Sirois, not because he was the youngest member of the band, it was his clean, cut, young face, and energetic smile that years of touring didn’t seem to take a toll on. After talking to Nick he turned to introduce me to his uncle.
Joey “The Kid” Sirois extended his right hand to shake mine, “Hi Bob, nice to meet you, you seem like a really fun guy.”
After too long of a pause, I stuttered a response, “Thanks, I am a fun guy.”
That was it, standing in front of multiple members of the band, feeling the roots keeping my feet to the floor, embarrassment by the lack of confidence, a simpleton informative response agreeing to Joey “The Kid’s” fun analysis. I knew leaving the House of Blues that night that I would need to have Nick introduce us again, seek redemption, and truly prove to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones that I am a fun guy.
Three years past between Throwdowns. I attended The M.M.B.’s free summer park concert in 2013, and lead singer Dicky Barret’s 50th Birthday Bash in Boston Common in 2014. I never linked up with Nick at either show and had no access backstage myself. There was uncertainty that the opportunity to meet the band might never happen. Finally in 2014, Nick called me to attend the Throwdown on the Saturday show. I met up with him, our buddy Drew, Drew’s Dad, and two foreign exchange students at Red Sox Broadcaster, Jerry Remy’s restaurant “Remy’s.” We sat at a round table, I drank a beer while everyone finished eating, and we noticed Jerry Remy and his wife quietly eating dinner two booths over from us. We requested our waiter to ask Remy if he’d take a picture with the two foreign exchange students from Spain. Remy denied the request, and stated he didn’t want to be talked to right now.
Walking out of the bathroom and by his table as we left, I waved my hand, as I walked, “Have a good night, Mr. Remy.”
Jerry Remy looked up from his meal delivering a stern glare, “Ok.”
As we walked over to Lansdowne it became entirely possible that that was the most indirect “Fuck off!” I’ve received in my entire life.
This time entering Boston’s House of Blues, a female punk band was performing, we went upstairs to the second level, and immediately entered backstage. I met Joe Sirois with a strong handshake and confident thank you for having me back again. He didn’t remember me but he was flattered by my fandom and for attending the show. Joe left us to go prep for his performance and we decided to stay backstage to continue watching this band. As we stood there watching the female band perform, the Dancer for the Bosstones, Ben Carr, walked through the backstage passageway, and tripped over my boot.
I reach out to catch him by the chest, he recovered from his stumble, and I asked, “Hey, are you OK?”
Carr responded, “I’m fine” and abruptly walked away.
Shock ran through me, not of nervousness, but disbelief, that I just assisted a member of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the one that needs his feet the most, in one of his more baffled, backstage, moments.
Gazing to the female band, gather my thoughts, a lot of questions came to my mind. Did this make me even with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones? Years of wanting to make a better impression, attending a few shows in between, was this my own small victory? I let out a big smile, realizing these were all ridiculous thoughts, but it made me laugh. All this time spent joking about making a better impression, a fake redemption story, and Carr returns me an interaction like this. It was a funny moment to process, an actual inside internal joke, but at the end of the day you don’t want to capitalize, or have anyone feeling bad at the Throwdown.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones came out to their opening song and Dicky Barret’s introductions of each band member. Dicky at age 50, didn’t seem to miss a beat, and thrived off the hometown theme. In between singing hits suchs as “Someday I Suppose”, or the “Rascal King”, one of Dicky’s greatest talents is sharing the talents of his supporting band members. For the first time, I sat in the balcony of the House of Blues, gaining an opportunity to gage the shows lighting from a higher angle. Dicky’s sharp, mid performance, wearing his ray bans, constant flashing lights, was able to spot a punch thrown in the crowd, and immediately called the culprit out. He made clear the Hometown Throwdown is a time to celebrate, violence was not acceptable, and that kind of behavior wouldn’t be tolerated. On stage and behind the scenes interactions had shown that the Mighty Mighty Bosstones had consisted of genuine people.
Attending the show with Nick also gave me the opportunity to enter the after party with him and his family. We walked in a vibrant white function room decorated with Ancient Asian vases, paintings, and eloquent furniture. Meeting Joe Sirois for the second time that evening still tensed my body with excitement but felt very comfortable at the same time. It was still hard to get over his young energetic face, that with time, makes his nickname “The Kid”, even more appropriate. Joe joined the band at seventeen, most members were closer to to thirty at that time, but thirty years of touring hadn’t aged him. I knew he was the drummer of the Boston based band, The Street Dogs, and Nick had explained to me how “Uncle Joe” lived in Los Angeles, and had done recording with Dave Grohl in Las Vegas. Joey “The Kid” just possesses a youthful energy, it’s part of how he approaches his art, it’s noticed in the moments he takes to greet people, and it gives off a genuine feel of who he is.
Our group semi circled around Joe Sirious, as he casually leaned against a pillar, by the Function Room entrance. The party filled with members of the M.M.B., local charity members, and The Dropkick Murphy’s Ken Casey stuck out standing in the center of the room. Joey “The Kid” kept it loose, Nick explained to his uncle all of our reasons for attending the show, he stayed leaned back on that pillar, thanking us, and his blue eyes, with his boyish expressions, would light up as he did more listening towards our stories. He took selfies with the exchange students, held a conversation with me about living in Los Angeles, and the rising of West Coast Baseball. What seemed most important to Joe Sirois was just to be able to have some quality time with his nephew in between his ongoing schedule. Being around Joey “The Kid”, listening the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, attending the Throwdowns, has been humbling, because at the end of the day they’re genuine guys, who want to give back to people, from what they have received. I’m thankful for my friend Nick for introducing me to Uncle Joe, and I hope to attend more Hometown Throwdown, on what is now considered an official Boston Holiday.