Metromix Story: Potcheen: Irish Moonshine Never So

Who the Hell is Potcheen?

It’s not every day that you get hijacked by a bunch of scallywag pirates and live to tell the tale, but that’s exactly what happens when you jump onboard the pirate ship Potcheen, or rather its large green bus.

Potcheen is Denver’s premiere Celtic Pirate-Punk-Folk-Rock Band (try saying that one twice..or even once after you’ve had a shot or two of whisky). The band’s name means “Irish moonshine” brewed high in the hills of ole’ Ireland.

The band formed in 2003 and has been through some changes over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is its fearless captain. When he’s not out fighting off salty wenches you’ll find Christian Blochinger managing the band, singing a little shanty, and most importantly, behind a massive drum set even Bill Kreutzmann would be proud of. I was fortunate enough to get some one on one time with the legend himself.

When did you start pounding those drums, and why drums?

Blochinger: I started doing percussion when I was about 20, but didn’t get into full-fledged drumming until 12 years later. I saw “String Cheese Incident” and was inspired. That’s when I also bought a drum set for my son. It was something we were able to do together. I’m self-taught and I play by ear.

One thing people really know you from is that big, green tour bus of yours. And I understand it has a name…

Blochinger: Her name is ‘Grace’ and she’s named after the pirate Grace O’Malley, the only female Irish pirate. I got the idea to get a bus after living in New Jersey. Fans out there didn’t want to drive all the way to New York to see shows. So, a local band I knew bought a bus to take fans back and forth. Saves on gas, people can drink without worrying about driving home it is a great idea…I decided to do the same thing for our Colorado fans.

And Grace has quite the presence at the St. Paddy’s Parade...

Blochinger: We play on top of the bus every year during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade downtown. You’ve never lived until you’ve played on top of a moving bus in a parade lined with 80,000 people. Eight cases of Guinness, 20 strippers and a band on a bus playing to the entire city; who else can say that?

Writer’s note: Christian just had Grace converted to run on vegetable oil which is way better for the environment and no more big gas bills.

What’s one of the craziest things that ever happened to you before or after a performance?

Blochinger: Our first St. Patrick’s Day performance ever was at a house in Arvada. After the show, we were loading up and a gang war erupted all around us. Three rival gangs. Everyone was fighting. I just tried to load up the drums as fast as I could and told everyone else to do the same so we could get out of there.

Tell us about your most memorable performance.

Blochinger: When we played in front of 5,000-6,000 people in New Mexico opening for Los Lobos at the Taos Solar Festival

You’ve made a lot of changes in the band over the years. What is it that keeps you inspired?
Blochinger: I think the biggest joy I get in the world is playing, and playing for people. It’s about doing what you love, not about the money. Most people spend their whole life working in a cubicle waiting until they retire to get out and see the world. Why not travel and play music and see the whole world now? I’d rather have the adventure on the high seas.

Hop on the Potcheen bandwagon!

So there you have it all you land lubbers. I dare you to take the pirate adventure and jump on the bus next time Potcheen visits your neck of the woods. There’s no need to be afraid of this band of misfits. But, if ya don’t come away with a kick in your step and a nice jug of rum I might just have to make you walk the plank myself! ARR Mateys!

—Laura Kelley, Special to Metromix
Metromix interview link

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