Irish-British folk-punk band The Pogues blew out of London in the early 1980s. Spider Stacy, a New Orleans resident since 2010, was a Pogue from the start, playing a distinctly Irish instrument, the alternatively lively and plaintive tin whistle.
The Pogues — powered by the band’s riotous shows and a trio of popular albums featuring singer Shane MacGowan and his great songwriting — became an international success.
MacGowan’s prodigious drinking and drugging, however, led to his dismissal from the band in 1991. Even before his departure, Stacy and Jem Finer assumed much of the group’s vocal duties.
The Pogues disbanded in 1996 but reunited in 2001 with MacGowan back aboard. Although the reunion produced no new recordings, the band carried on in concert until last year. Now, following six shows in 2014, the possibility of more Pogues performances seems unlikely.
“I can’t say with any certainty if we will ever do anything again,” Stacy said.
“But I’d like to think we will,” he added. “I’d like to think that it hasn’t actually quite come to an end yet.”
The death of Pogues member Philip Chevron from cancer in 2013 is one of the reasons The Pogues may not play again. The guitarist’s passing shook the band deeply.
Stacy and the other surviving Pogues do know that demand for the band continues. “There are people who really, really would like to see us one more time,” he said.
Stacy also knows that many qualified musicians are available to fill the guitar spot.
“Plenty of people can do a really good job, people who would love to do it and do it with pride and respect,” he said. “But we’ll see how things work out. Philip’s death did have a profound effect on the band.”
While The Pogues may have answered their last call, Stacy’s desire to make music continues. He’s thrilled about “Poguetry,” a projected series of musical collaborations between himself and other bands featuring the songs of The Pogues.
“I’ve toyed with the notion of how The Pogues’ songs would sound filtered, if you like, through another musical screen,” Stacy said of his “Poguetry” concept.
The first “Poguetry” event, taking place Saturday at One Eyed Jacks in New Orleans, will feature Stacy and the hardest-rocking Cajun band on Earth, the Acadiana- and New Orleans-based Lost Bayou Ramblers. Also on the bill is New Orleans singer Meschiya Lake, who’ll take the Kirsty MacColl part for a duet performance with Stacy of The Pogues’ biggest hit, “Fairytale of New York.”
Stacy has been a Lost Bayou Ramblers fan since he first saw the group perform in the spring of 2010 at One Eyed Jacks. He and his wife, Louise, both Londoners, had just bought a home in the Treme area.
“Apart from being immediately blown away by how good they are, it really struck me that, yeah, this fantastic, rich, elated sort of music could really work with The Pogues’ songs,” he said.
Stacy mentioned his idea to local musician and character Davis Rogan. Rogan ran into Lost Bayou Ramblers singer-fiddler Louis Michot and passed on the idea. Stacy and Michot later met at Stacy’s house. The fruition of Stacy’s concept, more than five years in the making, finally arrives on stage Saturday at One Eyed Jacks.
In preparation for the show, Stacy and the Ramblers have been rehearsing at Dockside Studio near Lafayette. Their Pogues-meet-Cajun music sessions have been a good time, Michot said.
“It’s amazing poetry over music, very similar to Cajun music,” the Rambler said. “But also completely different. For us, it’s like relearning Cajun music.”
Through the years, Michot heard comparisons between The Pogues and the Lost Bayou Ramblers. People also compared the Ramblers to America punk-rock band The Ramones and British punk-and-beyond group The Clash. Michot hadn’t even heard the later groups but, when he did hear them, he understood.
“I listened to them and said, ‘Man, they’re right!’ It makes complete sense. The Pogues and us are a natural fit.”