Although the Town Pants have been performing for 20 years, it was only within the past two years that hometown drummer Jeff Tripoli joined the band. In that short time, he’s played from Texas to Chicago to Hawaii with the Irish-flavored group. Tripoli will bring the band to Funk ’N Waffles, 307 S. Clinton St., on Friday, Sept. 22, 10 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. For more information, visit funknwaffles.com.
He first met members of the Vancouver-based Town Pants in 2009, but it took several years before they finally decided to work together. “It was just sitting on the back burner,” Tripoli says. “I finally got in touch with (guitarist-vocalist) Duane (Keogh) and we started talking. Then it just happened.”
Tripoli is a veteran of Central New York bands such as the Tim Herron Corporation, Pale Green Stars, Free Booty Institute and Blue Sky Mission Club. Despite performing various musical genres throughout his career, his jump into the Town Pants’ genre-bending Irish and Celtic music was decidedly different.
“There’s some deep Irish history in the lyrics,” Tripoli explains. “There is traditional folk, rebel songs about going off to war and the IRA (Irish Republican Army).”
During his first month with the band, Tripoli had to master 52 songs. “There were a lot of learning curves,” he recalls. “It’s been an experience to see what it really takes to be able to play internationally. I had to get a passport. It’s all the aspects of the details that go into traveling long distances.
“On top of that, it was really awesome to see how I could grow musically with a band that was doing professional shows, sometimes 13 gigs in two weeks. To see how the gigs evolve at such a rapid pace and what it takes to play consistently night to night, it’s been an eye-opener.”
Headed by brothers Duane and Dave Keogh, the Town Pants also features Ed Croft on upright bass and Johanna Chastek on fiddle.
“The experiences I learned playing with everyone before this gave me the knowledge and experience I have now,” he says. “Working with people like Jeff Jones (Pale Green Stars) taught me there’s a lot of talent out there. And you’ve got to find a way to serve that talent in the music according to the individual who writes it.”
The Town Pants’ schedule includes an October bus tour of Ireland, accompanied by 100 fans. “All these awesome people I’ve met all over the country will all be in Ireland together,” Tripoli says. “My friends from Hawaii will meet friends from Texas and from Erie, Pa.”
Tripoli also notes that the Irish-Celtic genre is “accessible to the average person. It’s got a lot of color to it. You can come get rowdy with friends, drink, dance and have fun. It’s energetic, up-tempo music with really blazing fiddle parts. It’s a good show for people into banjo or mandolin or indie folk. And Duane and Dave are just really funny on stage between songs. They’re great musicians, but great people first.”