Not Without Purpose: Mike McColgan of Street Dogs on the firefighter benefit shows, the Boston music scene, and why it hits close to home

Photo by Laurens Kusters

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ive minutes into the ticket sales for a punk rock benefit show that aimed to raise money for the families of two fallen Boston firefighters, Street Dogs lead singer Mike McColgan had a realization: “We’re gonna need bigger gig.” Tonight’s show, at Great Scott in Allston, was announced on March 30 and sold out a few hours later at the pre-sale, VIP price of $75.

The red-blooded reaction called for a second gig, and that was quickly announced for tomorrow at the Sinclair in Harvard Square. Another sell-out followed, and ticket sales from both events have come in at $34,875.

“It shows how communal the punk rock scene is and how this city rallies around tragedy,” McColgan says. “It’s an amazing thing to behold and we just want to do the right thing to help the families of Lt. Walsh and Firefighter Kennedy of Engine 33 Ladder 15. The stigma about punks being anti-authority or anti-social doesn’t hold true here. I’m blown away by people’s generosity and good will.”

Lt. Ed Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy died battling the nine-alarm fire at 298 Beacon St. on March 26. The Boston Fire Department ordered a seven-alarm response at around 12:10 p.m., but heavy winds fanned the flames in the four-story brick building in the Back Bay, and the BFD escalated the call around 3:21 p.m. All companies were ordered out, but Lt. Walsh and Firefighter Kennedy didn’t make it.

“Those two men bought other fighters time to get out of a bad situation,” McColgan adds. “They gave their lives to protect the lives of others. They definitely have a spot in Heaven.”

McColgan saw the brevity amongst firefighters first hand when he bowed out of his role as the signer of the Dropkick Murphys to join the Boston Fire Department, following in his uncle, Kevin’s rubber boot-steps.

“This tragedy hits close to home; I always wanted to serve,” he says. “I went to take the test and I got the call. I was always enamored by the brotherhood of fire service.”

McColgan left the Dropkicks on amicable terms in 1999. Music came calling once again four years later, and McColgan started Street Dogs to have some fun. From that moment on, they expanded into a full-scale, anthemic ordinance; writing five albums and touring at a breakneck pace. “It’s a gift, not a right,” McColgan said.

The Street Dogs’ first album featured Ken Casey and Al Barr, who hosted their own benefit show for the fallen firefighters at McGreevy’s on April 6.

Performing tonight at Great Scott are Street Dogs, a reunited Avoid One Thing (their first show in 10 years), Ducky Boys, Lenny Lashley’s Gang of One, the Welch Boys, Burning Streets, and Duck and Cover.

Tomorrow’s show at the Sinclair features a similar lineup, with Slapshot, the Old Edison and Stray Bullets joining Ducky Boys, Street Dogs, and Avoid One Thing.

Both nights will feature an extensive raffle list of donated merchandise from the Dropkick Murphys, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Rancid, the Swingin’ Utters, the Bruisers, Red Sox and Bruins signed merchandise and concert tickets. There’s even a signed Paul Westerberg guitar.

To help maximize funds raised, both Bowery venues donated their rooms and many chipped in to ensure every dollar goes to the Lieutenant Walsh – Firefighter Kennedy Memorial Fund. Dig publisher Jeff Lawrence even cover the costs of some band members coming in from out-of-town.

“I couldn’t be more proud to help out, to live in the city of Boston and to watch people come together from all over to support families in need,” McColgan says. “It’s amazing to see.”

He adds: “I’m honored we were asked to do the show. We are supremely grateful for those who have helped donate money to this charity. If you can’t make it to the shows, please donate to the firefighter credit union. The families will need the assistance.“