To many Americans, Flag Day doesn’t mean much.  Although it was officially established by Woodrow Wilson as a day to commemorate the 1777 creation of the U.S. flag, Flag Day is not an official U.S. federal holiday.  It’s rarely honored on a mass level, although certain celebrations do exist.

While most of my friends scratch their heads and feel uncultured for never even having heard of Flag Day, I’ve been hearing about the day my entire life.  That’s because it happens to fall on the same day as my sister’s birthday (Happy Birthday Sarah!).

Perhaps in honor of my sister (but more likely in honor of highly animated singer John J. McCauley III), alt-country group Deer Tick titled their second studio album Born on Flag Day.  The album was released in 2009 on Partisan Records.

Throughout their relatively short career, Deer Tick’s musical output and raucous performances have proved essentially two things: you don’t have to be from the American South to be country, and you don’t have to play classic rock to be a rock star.

McCauley’s voice— a crackling, warbled wail with a slight hint of drawl —proves the former.  He sounds like a rough, worn out old country superstar, and his lyricism matches his chops.  He also tends to don a cowboy hat on stage, despite hailing from Providence, Rhode Island.

McCauley is also, undeniably, a rock star.  One of Deer Tick’s most exciting qualities is their always energetic live show in which he and his talented bandmates actually move around on stage, building off each other’s energy.

When the band took the stage at Coachella last year, McCauley mumbled that his plans to write an intro for the set were foiled because he had started drinking.  He then took a sip of his Heineken to kick off the morning in the hot desert sun.  He was also wearing a dress.  Can’t deny that that’s rock ‘n roll.

If you’re one of those unpatriotic Americans that has either never heard of Flag Day or simply chooses not to celebrate it, I suggest you honor the day by listening to Deer Tick.  If you don’t have Deer Tick in your music collection, I’d suggest beginning with Born on Flag Day before working your way through the band’s other two albums.  Or, of course, listen to Deer Tick on Earbits radio (totally slick and subtle self-promotion, right?).

My personal favorite from the album is “Straight Into A Storm,” and a video of a live performance of the song is included below.  Not many of the previously described antics are present in the clip, but the musical talent’s still there… and that’s all that matters.  Happy Flag Day, everyone.


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