Irish Music – Interview – Hair of the Dog
Written by Liam Sweeny on March 9, 2023
Some bags are synonymous with the music they play. The Stones are synonymous with Rock and Roll, B.B. King with the blues, and John Coltraine with jazz. These artists and bands are recognized as the forerunners of their genre, and when someone counts the top five on their fingers, these artists are the ones that land on most index fingers. In Irish music, Hair of the Dog is what lands on the index finger of a count of Irish bands. They are from here and to everywhere, racking up kudos and sharing the stage with U2, James Taylor, The Chieftains and Carly Simon.
I reached out to Rick Bedrosian of Hair of the Dog and we talk about who left the lights on.
RRX: How did the band start? Was it a chance meeting, or were you all playing in other bands at the time and just cross-connected. And obviously ‘Hair of the Dog’ has a meaning, but did it have an extra meaning for you at the time you picked it for the name of the band? Who picked the name?
RB: The band started as a trio in 1993. Just 3 guys that loved Irish music, looking to have fun and make a few bucks. We added Larry Packer (fiddle) a few years later and things began to take off. “The hair of the dog that bit you” comes from animal bites (treated with a paste made from that animal) and then became a drinker’s term for curing a hangover- a bit of the same drink that you overindulged in the previous evening to ease the throbbing head. I thought of the name and trademarked it (for bands) back in the 90s.
RRX: By the time you read these questions, the world will have long since turned into a lifeless husk except for Hair of the Dog and a few hundred fans, what is left of the human race, and you will either be working on something, or have had something just come out. What do you have for us coming in the next month?
RB: After having been inactive since the pandemic, HOTD Version 4.0 will be rising from the ashes in 2023. Just in time to mark 30 years!
RRX: Hair of the Dog has been playing Irish music since ’93, so you’re coming up on 30 years soon. I know, from talking to Rick past, and just by being alive and having eyes, that Saint Patrick’s Day is the day every Irish band goes into the black. I couldn’t help but wonder if there are other times of the year that hit big. Are there?
RB: September 17th is the annual, 1/2 Way To St. Patrick’s Day celebration. That’s always pretty fun. And then there’s also 1/4 Way and 3/4s Way…
RRX: I’m a lousy Irishman, in that I don’t know the names of Irish songs. I listen to Irish music enough, but it’s usually ‘oh, that song that goes dah-dah-dah.’ (I’m less than useless on trivia shows.) But for other people like me who like the Irish sound but couldn’t name a tune, what are five absolute standards?
RB: Depends on who you ask but since you are asking me… Four Green Fields, Whiskey In A (The) Jar, The Moonshiner, The Wild Colonial Boy and The Rattlin Bog are 5 that I would pick but there are more.
RRX: You were nominated for the 2022 Listen Up award. It’s our flagship award, and exceeded our expectations in popularity, so it’s a regular thing now. You have also won some outstanding awards and Billboard mentions. But does getting some appreciation from the local people feel different than the big praise?
RB: I actually get a lot more attention from out of town than I do in the Capital District. My TV Show, “I Could Eat”, just won an award this week at a Film Festival in India. I nabbed top honors for the show in New York City about ten days ago too. After 50 years I think people are a bit sick of me around here.
RRX: Celtic rock is such a curious mix, in that it isn’t pure Ireland. It started there, but it came over on immigrant ships and blended with American music. When you’re deep-diving to find something Celtic to throw around, there are a lot of places to go, but do you find yourself more often in Irish archives or in, say, Appalachian archives?
RB: Definitely the Irish. Saying, “Irish Music” is like saying, “American Music”. There are a lot of styles within those rather broad categories. There’s always more “new” stuff the hear!