As I look out over the sea of people in front of me, with their damp, pink, smiling faces, hopping up and down in time to the music, I realise that the songs we’re all singing are the same ones we played in our kitchens and sitting rooms for years gone by.
Watching the crowd sway back and forth, I remembered how it all began. Our first real gig was the result of a scheduling mishap. After a week of practising, we loaded the van with musical equipment, instruments and bodies, and headed into the city. You could imagine our shock when we walked through the front door of the venue to find another band happily playing away! After a few words were exchanged, we headed to our smaller local haunt. It was dark, smokey, and just what we needed. The publican was glad to see us, but wondered how we all came to be there. We explained our situation and he asked,
On that St. Patrick’s Day in 1993, we stretched an hour and a half set into four hours of raucous entertainment. Back then our line up was smaller; it included Paddy Scott on the fiddle, his sons Mick and Pat, who both could pick up any instrument and sing the songs. Last there was me, their young cousin Peter, who played the bass and was allowed to sing a song or two. As the years went by, we outgrew our little group, and more members were needed. James Kelleher, a long time friend of the family and godfather to Pat Jr., entered the fold, bringing with him his button accordion, tin whistles, and his wit. Jimmy would have the crowds rolling with laughter as he delighted us with tales about his home in County Cork. He would also regale us with stories about how he and his friend Paddy, who arrived from County Tyrone during the sixties, started their lives in this new country. Time passed and our little band tightened up but I went to work abroad. During my years away, my sister Denise stepped right in to play the bass and Madd Paddy hasn’t missed a note yet. Since my return, the group has nearly doubled in size, especially with friends like Patrick Kelly on guitar and Pat Halferty on piano, not to mention our drummer, Rob Stocco.
Back on stage now, with my family and friends beside me, I can see the familiar faces singing along and the new ones paying close attention. As we play the old songs to fresh ears, we look forward to sharing the music that is our cultural inheritance. With our debut album ‘Arrived’, we hope to bring the music of our home into yours.
Feicfidh mé ar ball thú! Slán go fóill!