scop (noun):

Old English – bard, minstrel, storyteller

Last Weekend @ Riley’s:
The St. Patrick’s Day Shows

March 25th, 2017

Pittsburgh’s still the best place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. That’s according to Niche.com, which places the Burg ahead of Boston (the city that held its first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1737) and Chicago (where they dye the Chicago River green in the saint’s honor). Pittsburgh’s Parade Day traditions might be younger than Boston’s, and our rivers might not ever go green, but Pittsburgh is still the best place to be for mid-March celebrations … and the place to be in Pittsburgh (at least for my money) is Riley’s Pour House.

This post is a follow-up to Parade Day @ Riley’s: Just the Beginning, which I managed to post between a couple of marathon gigs on Parade Day Weekend. I intended to be as timely with this post, but the St. Pat’s performance schedule proved to be even more demanding than the one on Parade Day. We played ten hours over two days, dividing our time between the pub stage and the tent. Now, after a week, I’m finally ready to do some blogging.

The St. Pat’s weekend got rolling on a snowy Friday afternoon, but the weather didn’t deter the crowd. By evening, the party was in high gear as piper John Walsh (above) did his traditional march through the pub.

Meanwhile, out in the tent, hundreds were dancing and singing along with Mike Gallagher and his son John (right). Bandmate Lauren Moore and I arrived at the end of their set, in time to hear their rousing rendition of “A Nation Once Again.”

We took the stage at 5:00, and before long the place was at capacity. At once point, I had to pause and snap a picture (left). I can’t prove it, but I sense it was the best party this side of Dublin.

At 8:00, Mark Guiser took over the pavilion stage while bassist Duane Davis joined me for two more sets inside the pub. Then, the next night, we did it all again.

I’ve been playing March shows like this for years. They’re fun but demanding, and over time I’ve learned a thing or two about pacing the sets so as not to run out of steam. But this year I decided it was time to purchase some new gear to ease the strain of back-to-back performances. I offer the following as a bit of musician shoptalk. FYI.

First, I opted to play some of these shows with a Martin 000×1 rather than my usual full-size Guild. I love my all-wood dreadnought, but the Martin — with its smaller design and laminated back and sides — makes standing and playing a lot easier, especially during the final sets. Second, I fashioned a mic-hat that provided more freedom on stage. It might seem like a small thing, but the wider range of movement seemed to keep me limber as the night wore on. That’s the mic-hat (and the new Martin) on the right. The microphone, a Shure WH20XLR, comes with a wire head brace that looked like it might get uncomfortable fast.

The hat seemed like a good way to provide padding while keeping the thing in place. Headgear for a 21st-century scop. What do you think? Maybe I should market these.

Images © The 21st-Century Scop, 2017.

Parade Day @ Riley’s: Just the Beginning

March 12th, 2017

The Parade Day Celebration at Riley’s Pour House topped all expectation — a veritable three-ring wonder featuring entertainment under the big top, in the pub, and even (when the famed Irish Belly Dancers arrived) on the bar.

If you were part of the multitude in attendance, you know what I’m talking about. If you weren’t, you’ll get a chance to make up for that next weekend, when we do it all again for St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

So here’s a recap.

Even before the parade concluded downtown, people began gathering at Riley’s, quickly filling both the pub and the giant tent erected in the adjacent courtyard. By the time John Gallagher took the tent stage at noon, both spaces seemed filled to capacity. But people kept coming, spilling onto the patio behind the pub and even (despite the cold) onto the sidewalk along Main Street.

The trad-duo Dan & Dave warmed the indoor stage for us. Accompanied by a guest fiddler (above), Dan & Dave played from 1:00 – 6:00 while John and Mike Gallagher traded the spotlight on the outdoor stage.

Connolly-Davis took over the indoor stage at 6:00 and performed a two-hour set until Lauren Moore arrived to join in on mandolin and vocals. After that, the three of us played the rest of the night, performing for an enthusiastic crowd while The Wild Geese Band played next door.

Next weekend, Dan & Dave, Mike Gallegher, and Connolly-Davis return for another two-day party. Mark Guiser (right) will also be on hand in the big tent, playing opposite Connolly-Davis, who will be finishing out the weekend on the pub stage.

You’ll want to be there for all of it. Otherwise, you’ll have to be content with listening to the stories, which given the Caltic penchant for craic, might be almost as entertaining. Almost.

Parade Day Preview

March 11th, 2017

With St. Patrick’s Day Parade scheduled for March 11, a week in advance of the actual  St. Patrick’s Day weekend, Pittsburgh has the opportunity to celebrate all week long.

Last night at Riley’s Pour House, bagpiper John Walsh kicked off the weeklong celebration by marching through the pub in advance of our 8:00 show. John will be returning to Riley’s today along with the likes of Young John Gallagher, Mike Gallagher Himself, the Irish Belly Dancers, and The Wild Geese.

Entertainment will be continuous, running on two stages from noon to midnight. You can check out the full schedule here!

Duane and I start at 6:00 on the pub stage. At 8:00, we’ll be joined by Lauren Connolly-Moore and (possibly) some surprise guests.

Hope to see you there!

Parade Day & St. Patrick’s Day Shows

March 5th, 2017

March 11 (Parade Day)

  • 6:00 – 7:30: Riley’s Pub Stage with bassist Duane Davis.
  • 8:00 – 10:00: Riley’s Pub Stage with bassist Duane Davis and vocalist-mandolinist Lauren Connolly-Moore.

March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day)

  • 5:00 – 7:30: Riley’s Garden Center Stage.
  • 8:00 – 11:00: Riley’s Pub Stage with bassist Duane Davis.

March 18

  • 8:00 – 11:00: Riley’s Pub Stage with bassist Duane Davis.

Details are still coming together, but the above are some dates, times, and details that we have so far. For more info, click here!