Md. Governor's Band, O'Malley's March, to Release Fifth CD

By John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fans of a certain Celtic rock band will notice something different about the new compact disc being released Saturday: Unlike past efforts, it has no songs written by the group's frontman, Gov. Martin O'Malley.

"For some people, that may make for a better listen," O'Malley (D) joked yesterday during an interview at the State House about his band's fifth CD, which has been more than two years in the making.

Recorded sporadically in the basement of his drummer's Baltimore home -- amid budget cutting and other gubernatorial duties -- "Galway Races" is otherwise not a dramatic departure for the seven-piece O'Malley's March. It includes a mix of traditional Irish tunes and covers of old and new songs by artists O'Malley admires, including the Saw Doctors and Steve Earle.

The most unexpected of the 13 tracks might be a pepped-up Celtic treatment of "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day, the American power pop/punk trio that had its commercial breakthrough in the mid-1990s.

During the first half of his tenure as governor, O'Malley said he has lacked "the solitude" to come up with the melodies, story lines and lyrics that constitute his songs, many of which focus on Irish history and social justice.

Finding the time to write has been a bigger issue, O'Malley said, than during his tenure as mayor of Baltimore, when his now semi-retired band was thriving, regularly playing bars around Baltimore and on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

As he geared up to run for governor, O'Malley largely shelved his second job, in a nod to concerns by advisers that it detracted from his gravitas. O'Malley's March has surfaced from time to time since then at Irish festivals and fundraisers.

The new disc, the governor said, "was really a way for all of us to stay in touch. It's something we do because we enjoy doing it. The band hasn't been playing all that much since the campaign and the election."

The disc's official release comes Saturday night at a pair of concerts in Baltimore, where it will be on sale, but there are no appearances scheduled beyond that, O'Malley said.

"If we don't sell all thousand of [the CDs] there, we may have to find some more opportunities to play," he said.

Early copies of the disc, packaged in a burnt-orange case, have started appearing at the State House.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), who recently tangled with O'Malley over the governor's legislation to repeal Maryland's death penalty, said he planned to take the copy sitting on his office desk home with him last night.

"The governor was kind enough to personally come by and drop it off," Miller said. "I'm enthusiastic about it because I have the previous CD and enjoyed it immensely. I lent it to my daughter and haven't gotten it back yet."

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