– Tom (guitars, vocals, songs)

Tom Flannery claims to have absolutely no memory of anything at all until he heard Pete Townshend’s “Empty Glass” on vinyl while babysitting his sister’s son in a top floor apartment that had no air conditioner in the midst of a brutal heat wave. Then something kicked in and a few months later Santa Claus left “Quadrophenia” under the tree, rendering Tom both a social outcast and a willing recluse. He bought a used guitar from a guy in Olyphant who lived in a room the size of a broom closet and Tom felt really bad about it ’cause the guy was obviously selling it for rent money. But Flannery got over it on the ride home and was soon learning to play “I’m One” for the mirror in his bedroom, lamenting that he couldn’t get that “even tanned look” on his face no matter how much sun he got, which wasn’t much since he spent most of his time in his room learning how to play the “gibson without a case” that he shamelessly underpaid for from that desperate guy in Olyphant. A prisoner of rock and roll indeed.

Except being in a band eluded him….ever since his first crack at it ended with him throwing his mic stand at his own drummer, javelin style. In the middle of a gig. The drummer totally deserved it, but still word got around and Tom spent the next 20+ years as a solo artist….playing acoustic shows to whomever would listen…which often meant roomfuls of empty chairs. Since audiences expected standard covers, and Tom insisted on doing his own songs, which at this point numbered in the hundreds, he got a wee bit depressed and called Wiggy on the phone asking him to put a band together for a long threatened loud record inspired by teenagers and the “hope I die before I get old” lyric. Wiggy, being an adventurous sort and having a low threshold for boredom, agreed. And thus the Shillelaghs were born….and soon bonded over, in no particular order, Yuengling, Lionshead, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz, Corona, Heineken, Guinness, Samuel Adams, guys who write songs about guys who ride bicycles, and female lead singers in black leather pants. None of this was intentional.

It just happened, which is kinda cool in rock and roll….which everybody assumes is dead because business men don’t play it on the radio anymore. But it’s like cockroaches and Keith Richards. It will survive a nuclear war. As long as kids (and adults who never really grew up) want to make loud noises….it’s gonna percolate.

If you can live without money you can even make a decent living at it. Still.

The All Music Guide has called Tom “one of the best songwriters to emerge at the turn of the century”.


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