Tropical Storm Irene had a silver lining for Nancy Dugan: It delayed the inevitable until tonight, Dec. 30, at The Minstrel in Morris Township.
She has had all these extra weeks to anticipate the rescheduled farewell concert of Dugan’s Hooligans, the band she formed with her husband, George Leszczuk, and their children, Connor and Sharlys, about a decade ago.
“This is the ‘This Time We Really Mean It Farewell Show,‘” joked Nancy, a classically trained pianist and harpist who wonders if Connor, a gifted fiddler studying at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, ever will perform en famille after tonight.
“It’s fun to play with them,” the mom acknowledged. “I don’t think they think it’s fun to play with their parents… It probably will be years before Connor will play with me again.”
Their swan song had been scheduled for Sept. 2, but the Minstrel lost power in the storm’s aftermath. About 40 people who came to the venue were re-directed to the Dugan-Leszczuk living room in Madison for an impromptu house concert.
Sharlys, a high school senior, will do some solo gigs in coming months, including an opening spot for the Nuala Kennedy Band at the Minstrel in March.
In addition to singing and playing harp and tin whistle, Sharlys is a Celtic dancer. She pulled double duty on New Year’s Eve last year, singing two sets with the Harmonium Choral Society and two more with the Hooligans at First Night Morris County.
Video of Sharlys at First Night:
This will be the family’s first quiet New Year’s Eve in years. George, a Postal Service mechanic who got recruited on drums because “it was annoying watching him sitting having a beer” while they performed, is happiest about the band’s breakup, according to his wife.
“He gets the worst brunt of the whole thing,” said Nancy, who works as an esthetician in a plastic surgery practice. “He gets the equipment, and fixes it when it breaks down. He’s got the grunt work.”
The parents have no plans to tour as a duo. Nancy wants to learn Dixieland jazz on the piano, “so when I’m in the nursing home, I can entertain everyone!”
Meet the Hooligans: Please click icon below for captions
She is very proud of the Hooligans, of course. This modern spin on the Cowsills/Partridge Family paradigm served its purpose. The parent-teen clashes that roil so many households largely were absent from theirs.
“I observed how people were with their teenagers. I didn’t want to have that,” Nancy said. “This way, we would always have something to communicate together. They weren’t wandering the streets. They were making some money (for music and dance lessons, harps, fiddles, etc.), and meeting adults.
“They grew up through that time without any problems, not even once. They never had any reason to prove anything. They were proving it every day,” on stage.
And if her talented kids surprise everyone and skip music careers, that’s okay, too.
“I just wanted them to have something they can do for the rest of their life that nobody can take away from them,” Nancy said. “That’s pretty cool.”
The Minstrel show starts at 8 pm at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, on 21 Normandy Heights Road in Morris Township. Tickets are $7; children under 12 are free. Call (973) 335-9489 for details.
Connor and Sharlys perform in this video: