Boston, Massachusetts is a uniquely divided city, consisting not of amorphously defined neighborhoods like the ones that make up Manhattan, but small, semi-autonomous villages with names like Allston, Dorchester, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain. Similarly, Boston's music scene has traditionally been equally insular, with little communication between the punk, indie rock, hip-hop, metal, folk, and Celtic scenes. One of the first bands to overlap some of these fiefdoms was the ska-punk-metal hybrid the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, which included drummer Joe Sirois for most of their performing career. About a half-decade later, the Dropkick Murphys formed in predominantly Irish South Boston, fusing hardcore street punk with an ever-increasing amount of Celtic folk influences, like a harder-edged and more street version of the Pogues. The Dropkick Murphys' lead singer was the fierce, gravelly Mike McColgan. Following that band's first album in 1998, Do or Die, McColgan (a veteran of the first Gulf War) left the Dropkick Murphys to join the Boston Fire Department. Ties between the Boston Irish community and the local fire department run deep, and being a fireman has long been one of the most prestigious jobs in South Boston, but by 2002, McColgan returned to music, forming the Street Dogs with guitarist Rob Guidotti, bassist Johnny Rioux (both formerly of local street punk band the Bruisers), and a fellow ex-Dropkick Murphys member, drummer Jeff Erna.
Released in 2003, the band's debut, Savin Hill, was a proudly Bostonian album named after a tough Dorchester neighborhood and filled with local references, plus a pair of tributes to McColgan's fellow firefighters (a massive, deadly blaze in Worcester in 1999, along with the tragedy of 9/11, had badly shaken the local firefighting community) and an odd choice of covers from Kris Kristofferson and Sham 69. Following the debut, the Street Dogs reorganized, replacing Guidotti with Marcus Hollar and Erna with ex- Bosstones drummer Joe Sirois; just as importantly, McColgan left his firefighting job in 2004. After a split EP with Allston-based garage rockers the Dents (Street Dogs/Dents), which introduced their new lineup, the Street Dogs released Back to the World, featuring the proudly parochial "In Defense of Dorchester" and several songs showing an increasingly political lyrical stance. By this time, Street Dogs had also added second guitarist Tobe Bean (ex-Welt) to the lineup to round out their sound. After its original release on the punk indie Side One Dummy, the Street Dogs reissued Back to the World on their own label, Brass Tracks, in 2005. Fading American Dream followed in fall 2006 as the guys spent time on the road opening for the Bouncing Souls. The impressive and intelligent State of Grace appeared in 2008 from Hellcat Records. After extensive touring, Joe Sirois was replaced by drummer Paul Rucker and the band recorded their self-titled album in the Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado, which was released in August of 2010. ~ Stewart Mason
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