A guest post from Ben Stimpson, who admits he actually likes screamo…

Take the hard-edged riffs and activist lyrics of punk music, combine that with the emotive chords of a Scottish bagpipe and the energy of Celtic dance, and then top it all off with a desire to honor and lift up Jesus… and you get Flatfoot 56, a christian Celtic punk band.  In a genre populated by the likes of the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly (and really nothing else), Flatfoot 56 offers something musically unique, spiritually uplifting, and well worth the time.  Whether you’re headbanging, moshing, or dancing a jig, crank Flatfoot’s music to 11, and your feet will be moving in no time.

I first stumbled onto Flatfoot 56 during the fall of 2007 when browsing through the new music covered by my most recent HM magazineCeltic punk?! I thought, Could it be so good? Yes, it could, and is.

Out of Chicago, Ill., Flatfoot began life in 2000 as a punk set consisting of three brothers whose less-than-fortunate last name resembles a gray cartoon moose.  A year after forming, the three Bawinkel brothers added some Celtic flavor to their punk band and became Flatfoot 56 as we now know them:  Tobin, Justin, and Kyle Bawinkel and Josh Robieson.  Tobin (at 25, he’s the oldest in the band) plays some great rhythm guitar while he shouts and sings his guts out with the best of punk lead vocalists.  Justin joins in with backup vocals while kicking out breakneck punk-style drum beats.  Kyle (at 20 years old, he’s the youngest member) also jumps in with backup vocals and his bass guitar.  Finally, the kilt-wearing Josh joins the crew, playing everything from bagpipes to mandolin to boring old guitar.

Though certainly interested in making quality music, Flatfoot’s biggest aim is to have fun on stage with their listeners.  Check out what they have to say on their website:

Most of the Flatfoot live show is improvised, and it’s all contingent on Robieson and crew making swift transitions between guitar, mandolin, bagpipes and whatever other eclectic instruments they bring to the party.  “He’s got it down to a science,” Tobin says of Robieson’s equipment juggling.  “We don’t really make set lists.  We kind of go with hand signals because we like to play certain songs to get certain crowds involved.  Because of that, Josh has become really quick at flipping instruments.  He’ll have a guy stand on the side for bigger shows to throw him the instrument he needs.”

I’ve never seen the group live (missed their Milwaukee show last winter due to Wisconsin fog… grrr…), but I can’t wait to watch those bagpipes and guitars thrown onto the stage.  Fun!

Without further introduction, here are two of my favorite Flatfoot 56 songs.  If you like ’em, make sure to download their stuff and support the band.  (I did it, so you should, too!)

Loaded Gun – DownloadStream
Hold Fast – DownloadStream

Myspace: www.myspace.com/flatfoot56
Website: www.flatfoot56.com

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