O'Malley Band Planning Respite From Retirement

By John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 4, 2007

You can take the governor out of the band -- but it seems there's still some band left in this governor.

O'Malley's March, the once-retired Celtic rock outfit, is scheduled to perform in Baltimore next month and is angling to release a compact disc by Christmas. This was all confirmed yesterday by the lead singer, the Honorable Martin O'Malley (D), governor of Maryland.

"The band is still in retirement, but with life expectancies growing in the United States, oftentimes people come out of retirement," O'Malley said.

The last public outing by O'Malley's March came in January, when it played at O'Malley's inaugural ball.

An often sleeveless O'Malley fronted the seven-piece band throughout his days as a Baltimore City Council member and during much of his tenure as Baltimore's mayor. But O'Malley largely shelved his side career in 2005 as he geared up to run for governor, blaming advisers who said playing before late-night, beer-swilling crowds detracted from his gravitas.

O'Malley, 44, said that a CD has been in the works for months, with the tentative title of "Banished to the Basement." That, he said, refers to "the fact that political realities have banished us to the basement and that we don't play out anymore."

The basement to which the band has been banished belongs to Jamie Wilson, the drummer, who lives in northeast Baltimore. There have been no recent recording sessions, O'Malley said, but "we need to get back to it at some point."

"I wouldn't call it a vanity project," he said, "but it's a project that doesn't have a tremendous sales potential.

"We have the skeleton of about a dozen songs that are on there. None of them are original. Most of them are kind of new versions of old traditional songs."

The disc would be the band's fifth. Earlier releases included several O'Malley-penned songs that explored Irish history and the quest for justice, among other themes.

O'Malley also confirmed yesterday that O'Malley's March will be venturing out of the basement Sept. 15, when it is booked to play at the annual Irish Festival in Baltimore City.

Whether this is an isolated outing remains to be seen. O'Malley said he agreed to play at the festival "to help the city."

"As governor, I have an obligation to help the city, you know," he said playfully. "The people of Baltimore are citizens of Maryland, too. The Irish Festival of Baltimore City asked us to play, and therefore we shall play."

But not before a little practice, said Annette Jones-Wilson, the band manager and wife of the drummer, in an e-mail exchange. "The guys are definitely trying to get together as much as possible before the gig."

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