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Two Degrees Takes Over Rockaway

“All I know, is I’m right where I wanna be, sitting here, sitting on Rockaway Beach. Baby just you and me. I think that I need one more day in Rockaway.” It’s lyrics to a song two lads from Ireland penned while sitting home in the middle of the Covid pandemic, looking back at photos and videos from some of their trips to the little beach town across the pond in New York. And it’s a song they’ve been thrilling crowds with all summer in Rockaway. Two Degrees is now on a plane back to Ireland, but they’ve found a home in this town that has welcomed them with open arms.

Matthew Mullin, of County Tyrone, and Jordan Shivers of Derry met each other during a night out for Mullin’s 22nd birthday four years ago and bonded over music. It wasn’t long before they met up again for practices, and got hooked on performing after their first gig. Shivers’ father gave them their name after Two Degrees University. “The rest is history,” Mullin said.

It wasn’t long before the duo traveled to the States on holiday and began to familiarize themselves with places like Boston, New York, and each other. “We really started to get to know another better and got to hate each other more,” Mullin joked. Now the lads are spending a lot of time together, performing full time and with their unique sound and high energy, drawing in crowds wherever they go from bars to 3arena in Dublin, in front of a crowd of 8,500.

Whether in Ireland or the States, Two Degrees seems to have a big following wherever they’re performing, grabbing attention toward their unique twists on popular cover songs that appeal to all ages, ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Elvis to Post Malone. Fans are often impressed by their stamina on stage, as the duo is notorious for playing 48-minutes straight without stopping. “We have to do covers to get recognized but of course we want people to sing our own music,” Shivers said.

Since 2019, Two Degrees has written four original songs, which they released on their first EP “One Road” in May 2021.

But there is one original song that folks have started to pick up on the lyrics for, at least, on the peninsula. “Another Day in Rockaway,” is already a tune that has crowds singing along, or at least, getting a kick out of some of the relatable lyrics as the lads play it around town.

Two Degrees first landed in Rockaway in 2019. On holiday in New York, they had one destination in mind, Keane’s Bar in Woodlawn in the Bronx, owned by Seamus Keane, lead singer of the Narrowbacks. Not even knowing what Keane looked like, they walked into the bar, found the bartender to be the man they were looking for, and said they had nowhere to stay. Keane put them up, gave them a few gigs at his bar and put them in touch with Bob Johnson, a former Rockaway resident who owns the Cabana in Long Beach. That connection with Johnson led them to their first Rockaway gig—at the Rugby tent for Rockaway St. Patrick’s Day with Shilelagh Law.

“That spiraled to playing Jamesons to Harbor Light to the Yacht Club to waking up on the beach at 5 a.m.,” Mullin said. From local bars to beach parties, Two Degrees has quickly found their niche on the peninsula. “We didn’t even know this place existed when we came to New York, we just thought it was the City. We love Rockaway,” Shivers said.

And they’ve quickly made many friends along the way, especially with people in the local bar and restaurant industry from Bob Johnson to Conor Skeffington, who they call their American manager, Bernadette McCann of Harbor Light, Matthew Knott of Jamesons, John McCann of the Belle Harbor Yacht Club and the Walsh family who often puts them up when they visit Rockaway. And they’ve created unique memories. From trying their first Nutcracker at a beach party to an accident at a show in Jamesons that left Jordan with a broken front tooth after an enthusiastic fan fell into his mic. But it made for a good reason to put up a tip jar at future shows to pay for his dentist bill.

Those were people and places and memories they missed after playing one of their last gigs on Rockaway St. Patrick’s Day in 2020, before having to cut their trip short and head back to Ireland as the Covid pandemic hit, keeping them away from stages for months to come. “They locked us up for too long,” Shivers said. But it was a good time to write original music, including the song about Rockaway, which they wrote in January 2021. But soon after things started to open back up again, Matthew and Jordan found themselves back on a plane to New York in November 2021, and again around St. Patrick’s Day, playing a big gig at the Gramercy Theatre in Manhattan with the Narrowbacks.

And then they came back again this August. Why? “The weather,” Shivers joked. This latest trip, along with their friend and fellow singer Lauren Craig, was simply for a holiday, but Two Degrees spent plenty of time gigging, to throw money back toward their vacation. “Every penny we made, between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m., we were giving it to the bartender,” Mullin said. But they also took some time out for charitable causes. On August 8, the lads took to the back deck of the Yacht Club to perform at the Fundraiser for Timmy Klein. For Two Degrees, it was an emotional gig in memory of the firefighter that they had met on one of their Rockaway trips, but it was also one of their favorites. “That was the closest I came to crying at a show. We knew Timmy. He was a nice guy, and it was a happy day, but still sad,” Shivers said. “That fundraiser was probably one of the best gigs we’ve ever done,” Mullin said. “It was a good crowd, and they raised a lot of money.”

Mullin and Shivers boarded a plane back home on Tuesday, August 23 for a break. “We love Rockaway and New York, but as soon as we go home, we’re detoxing,” Mullin joked. But it won’t be long ‘til they’re back. They already have plans to return for a wedding in a few weeks and again in March for St. Patrick’s season. Plus, they’re working on getting an artist visa to make the back and forth travel process smoother. And in between, they’re working on their next EP, which they hope to release in December featuring—“Another Day in Rockaway.”

To their Rockaway fans, they say, “Thank you for being so welcoming and hopefully we can continue to come back for years to come and have a place in Rockaway.”

For more info on Two Degrees, check out Twodegreesmusic.com

By Katie McFadden

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