“I thought I heard a piper play the sweetest melody / People gathered round a’ dancing and singing so merrily . . .”
– “Caledonia” by Dougie MacLean
Here’s how it happened.
As band mate Duane Davis and I were midway through our second of four sets on Riley’s outdoor stage, we noticed bagpiper John Walsh standing in the wings. We’d been waiting for him, since John’s piping has always been one of the high points of Riley’s Parade Day celebrations. We wrapped up our song, introduced him, and for the next 10 minutes the tent rang with the echoes of the highlands.
That’s John on the left, in a photo taken from the stage, looking out over the packed tent. An amazing performance.
Meanwhile, inside the pub, St. Patrick (Richard O’Malley) held court at a center table, taking a break after marching through the streets of Pittsburgh. His appearance was another one of the many offstage attractions that always makes Riley’s the place to be on Parade Day. Other attractions included a pair of sword-wielding belly dancers who performed atop the bar later that night.
That’s Richard “St. Patrick” O’Malley pictured on the right.
Sorry . . . but I didn’t get photos of the belly dancers.
Nevertheless, the real attraction was the crowd that overflowed both tent and pub, spilling into the street out front and the alley behind.
Composed of some of the best people you’re likely to meet this side of the Blasket Islands, the members of the audience made the show, dancing to “500 Miles” and singing along with us on a show-capping performance of “Wagon Wheel.”
What a rush!
At 8:00, Duane and I moved to the pub stage, where we continued playing until midnight while The Wild Geese Band performed under the tent. (That’s Wild Geese below, Connolly & Davis to the right, in case you’re wondering.)
Along the way, we were joined by Lauren Connolly-Moore on mandolin and vocals. All told, Connolly Davis performed for eight hours. Quite a workout, but I’m ready to do it again. Scop on!
All photos copyright © 2016 Lawrence C. Connolly, The 21st Century Scop.
The Parade Day banner is from the Riley’s Pour House website: rileyspourhouse.com/