BOSTON (CAP) - Following his collapse at a Dropkick Murphys concert at the House of Blues recently, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital treating singer Ken Casey removed a full-grown badger from a cavity that had formed in the rear of his throat.
"It was a ferret badger, which is the smallest of the badger species," said Dr. Hans Krasnal of Mass General. "But you still wouldn't want one in there if you could help it."
Krasnal says that badger infestations were actually quite common in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the animals were a major staple in the diets of Native Americans and colonists.
"It's much more rare today, but certainly not unheard of," Dr. Krasnal added, guessing that Casey may have picked up his badger while traveling abroad in Ireland in the mid-'90s, possibly during a particularly intense bender.
"You usually have to be pretty tanked for the little bugger to get in there without you noticing," said Dr. Krasnal.
Voice experts say the badger probably goes a long way toward explaining Casey's vocals on Dropkick Murphys songs like "I'm Shipping Up To Boston." Critic James Tate of absolutepunk.com described Casey's vocal style, in a review of 2005's The Warrior's Code, as "sounding as if he's got a live badger down there."
"I meant it as a compliment at the time," said Tate this week when contacted at Boston magazine, where he is now a home and garden columnist. "Who knew I was being so literal?"
Doctors have said that Casey is expected to make a full recovery, although his voice will likely never be the same. Casey's vocal coach, Mel Kulick of the Berklee College of Music, says some initial voice therapy sessions indicate Casey now sounds like a cross between Josh Groban and Barry Manilow.
"And a little bit of Enya ... I definitely hear Enya in there," said Kulick.
It's for that reason that certain other artists have neglected to have animals removed from their throat cavities if they weren't experiencing other ill effects. In one famous instance, rocker Bruce Springsteen's trademark rasp has been rumored to originate from a western screech owl somewhere behind his tonsils.
Springsteen has declined to confirm or deny those rumors, while other artists - including Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen, who made a splash last year with their Christmas album collaboration - have been coy about the assertions.
"Well my daddy, he didn't leave me much, you know he was a very simple man, but what he did tell me was this," Dylan told CAP News this week. "He did say, son, he said, you know, sometimes you're better off not knowing what you got down your gullet." Then he leaned back, jauntily adjusting his straw boater while taking a slow drag from his hookah.
And Waits, contacted at his home in San Bernadino, Calif., said, "There ain't no devil, there's just God when he's drunk," and then made a guttural noise that sounded sort of like a very small camel.
- CAP News Staff