Every once in a while, you hear a divine voice commanding you to spread a faith, and your proactive heeding of this call leads, eventually, to millions world round getting drunk in your name. Such was the fate of St. Patrick, of whom little is known, but in whose name we continue to bedeck ourselves in green and imbibe ourselves sick for his Christian mission hundreds of years ago. He stands in company with the lightning-struck St. Barbara, after whose martyrdom Spanish missionaries denominated this then-Chumash land and in whose name millions now associate with wine tastings by the beach and drunken college revelry.
The strange irony was not lost on The Mutineers’ Brian Mathusek and cofounder, wife, drummer, and singer Merry Young, who both lost their dearly departed lifelong friend and acoustic guitarist Michael Astudillo to substance issues exacerbated by S.B.’s drink-hard climate. The S.B.-born band, now a twosome, moved to Portland following Astudillo’s tragic death and are returning to their beachside beginnings at The Brewhouse, where they play with Matt Armor and his band, along with an opening set by The Matters, featuring Matt Sayles and Matt Cadenelli, this St. Patrick’s Day.
The band arrives with a new album, titled Live at B-Side. It features 11 songs recorded live in two days at B-Side Studio in Portland, and opens with “Barbara,” a song that recounts S.B. with bitter sweetness: to them, it’s “the most beautiful devil in all of the world.” “The city is a siren, alluring and dangerous … Because it’s a tourist town, it relies heavily on the feeling of a nonstop party, which can be very dangerous for those who enjoy a good party. Eventually, your body or mind will give out if you dive in too deep,” Mathusek said. “That reality came crashing down around us when Michael died. I felt like, in the end, Santa Barbara had chewed him up, spit him out, and then moved on to find its next victim.”
It’s a thin line between good times and bad, between paradise and purgatory. But of course, the Irish know this well and are among the best at rising above sorrow and celebrating life’s riches. The Mutineers will surely do this, with a set mixing originals and Irish traditionals.
Their love for S.B. still maintains in the relationships they’ve forged and the community they built, and what matters to them is the love they’ve grown. Old friends welcomed the new band with open arms, and it became clear there’s something special about being a husband-wife duo. “I feel extremely fortunate to be able to create music with Merry. We are constantly reminded of how rare our situation is,” Mathusek said. “Our goals are the same and our calendar is shared. Our personal life is enriched because we share these experiences onstage together.”
The two also continue working their Mutiny Studios output, printing and designing T-shirts and ports for Portland and S.B. bands alike and supporting touring acts with graphic art. Raise a pint to the The Mutineers, until the parting glass — may joy be with you all.
The Mutineers play with Matt Armor and The Matters at The Brewhouse (229 W. Montecito St.) at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 17. For more info, visit sbbrewhouse.com.