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Meet the Press

Celtic rock goes on-line
Punters go international with Microsoft's Mungo Park
By Rebecca Power and Audrey Murphy
The Muse

Tuesday night, Sept. 9, 9:30 pm. Over 100 people crowd into the small downtown Irish pub called O'Rielly's to witness the first ever on-line interactive concert staged by Microsoft. The crowd cheers and the band takes the stage; the St. John's-based Punters can now call themselves international musicians.

Mungo Park, the division of Microsoft responsible for the concert, prepares different adventure destinations for the on-line public. A wide variety of destinations have thus far been highlighted, including Africa, Asia and even outer space.

Randy Kerr, program manager of Mungo Park, says they wanted to concentrate this time on North America.

"Newfoundland and Labrador are probably two unknown secrets to most folks in the world," Kerr said.

Mungo Park is currently conducting a survey of all the different things to do and places to explore within the province.

"I think it would be a miss not to focus on St. John's," Kerr said. "Newfoundland being a very musical province, we figured it would be mostly absent if we didn't feature a local band and show some of the music."

"We thought it would be cool to have a live musical event, not only to broadcast it over the internet, but to allow people to actually request songs or ask questions between songs," he added.

Larry Foley, lead vocalist for The Punters, says this is a good thing for the band at this point in their career.

The group got together in the spring of 1995, and since then have released two albums, the latest entitled She Said No. Foley said he believes Microsoft chose them because they are a good example of a contemporary band heavily influenced by the traditional Irish musical genre.

"We're not exactly a pure traditional band in any sense of the term. We get called Celtic Rock a lot, [but] I think we are a pop/rock band that really shows its influences," Foley said. "All of the band members possess different musical tastes, and each brings that into the band's musical style."

The latest release from The Punters includes seven original songs written by Foley.

"When I write a song, there might be something in the words that's kind of 'traditional-ish'," said Foley. "I might write a pop song or a rock song, but it has the same form as "Dirty Old Town" or something."

Since the band started up, their sound has been continuously evolving, with a line-up change and tighter arrangements.

"We really make an effort to make sure that the band doesn't get stale; the same ten songs get old really fast," Foley said.

The concert was broadcast from O'Rielly's at 10:30 pm. The internet audience received flashes of pictures and sounds, while at the pub, the band was in full swing doing traditional sounds as well as songs from their two albums.

Between songs there were various requests, dedications, and questions from on-line audiences all over the world. Band members were quick to respond, as the pub crowd drank, danced, and cheered, showing the rest of the world just how much fun Newfoundlanders can have.

Although this concert was intended for people all over the world, The Punters say right now they are concentrating on the Maritime provinces. Over the next little while they will be touring the Maritimes with dates in P.E.I and Nova Scotia.

"We want to get big on [the Atlantic] level before we go on and try to take on the country," Foley said.

However, that is just for now; in the future the band plans to expand outside Canada.

For the people who missed the big show Tuesday night, they will soon get another chance to see the band that presented Newfoundland to the rest of the world. The Punters will play the T.S.C. on Sept. 20, and are ready to show students at MUN a good time. As Foley said, "No one rocks like the MUN crowd, b'y."

New CD Ready
Fisherman's Blues, the 4th CD from The Punters, is now available. On this CD the band celebrates their traditional roots and we finally hear a song from Pat.


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