Rick Barton rejoins Dropkick Murphys

Dropkick Murphys
At Avalon
Sunday, March 19
Photos by Dave Tree
except Rick Barton photos, by Nicole Tammaro

Well, he did for a night anyway. Rick Barton was the Dropkicks' link to an earlier era of Boston punk: he'd been in the Outlets, he was a songwriter as well as a guitarist, and over the long haul, he's been the guy we've missed most from the original lineup. McColgan was already history when the Murphys played their first annual St. Paddy's Day show -- not at Avalon, but in the East Village, at a record-release party for The Gang's All Here. And of all DKM's ex-members, Barton seemed to be the most remorseful for the way things were left. So when rumors surfaced last year at this time that he would rejoin Dropkicks for a few songs, we thought for sure the time had come for Barton and Case to bury their hatchets. Then: nothing. This afternoon, recalling that aborted reunion, Barton said only that he'd wanted to play last year but they couldn't work out the details.

This year, however, the dream came true. The band gave Barton a call, they rehearsed a bit backstage, and -- wearing his signature DKM costume, which was always a suit, and not workingman's garb, even though by trade Barton is a house painter -- the old bastard joined the Murphys for a blistering five songs: "Do or Die," "Barroom Hero," "Firestarter Karaoke," and "Skinhead on the MBTA." Casey, introducing him, reminded the audience that "this is the guy I started the band with." Afterwards, Barton said he was cleansed of all his Dropkicks demons. This afternoon, speaking to a friend of ours who relayed the conversation over IM, Barton was ecstatic and swore us to secrecy on a couple of upcoming projects that will be bombshells when the details get out. Stay tuned. But dude: Rick Barton is back.

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