Born in a pub and raised on concert and festival stage, the Buddy O’Reilly Band has been a driving force for Irish and American roots music for the past twenty five years. “The Buddies”, as they’re known to their fans, have the uncanny ability to present great time-honored traditional music in a vibrant, engaging way. Add wonderful ballads and pub songs to the mix, and top off with some powerful Irish step-dancing, and you have one mighty hooley on your hands! We took the time to ask the Buddy O’Reilly band a few questions. Here’s what they had to say!
What is the strangest thing a fan has done for you or at your show?
“The strangest (I feel comfortable enough to mention) would be after I smacked a drunk on the head with my wooden flute (it was more of a shilelagh back then!) ’cause he kept dancing around in front of the stage at a St. Pat’s Day gig – which was fine – but kept falling onto my mic stand, causing the mic to smack me in the mouth. What would you have done? The funny part was when he came to he gave me a $50 bill as an apology! And it turned out he was a lawyer!”
What is the funniest moment you have had as an artist?
“Oh, after thirty years or so there is so much, plus you know, the memory starts to go after a while! And the funniest are kind of too, er, personal… but one G-rated story would be when, back in the ’80s, we did a “rap” version of a really cheesy Irish pub song during a set at the old County Cork Pub in Buckhead. There was a full house there, mostly white folk, that just kind of stared in shock. But there was this one black dude standing way in the back, a tall guy in a black trench coat, who doubled up in laughter and fell over the guy sitting in front of him. That made the whole night!”
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
“Since I play the uilleann pipes and wooden flute, most of my time pre-show is spent warming up my instruments, especially the pipes. I have seven reeds in the instrument, all of which are quite susceptible to slight weather, temperature and humidity changes. So for me personally, if I have the chance I’ll spend an hour or more warming up and tuning, seeing how the instrument is doing, that sort of thing. Short of that, if there’s nowhere to warm up but on stage (say, at a rainy festival in a tent!) I usually like to just chat up the crowd and my bandmates to relax, get a feel for the gig.”
If you could describe your music in one word, what would it be?
“Hmmm… convivial. I’ve been thinking about that word a lot actually, lately. Then there’s an old tune called “Contentment is Wealth”. Kind of gets into a whole Irish/Buddhist thing. But that’s not one word is it?”
How do you connect with a crowd?
“I suppose the most important part of it is bringing 200-year old music into the 21st century. Which, more often than not, simply means playing the music with heart. People know when you’re communicating through music. Of course folks who aren’t accustomed to this type of music probably aren’t going to want to sit through ninety minutes of jigs and reels, no matter how well they’re played. I found that out early on.”
How did you decide on your band name?
“Me and my buddy, Kurt Ptacek both worked at a restaurant in Little Five in the mid eighties. We started the band with guitarist David Patterson, who’s mom was Puerto Rican by birth. So we had a Czeck, a Frenchy, and a Puerto Rican all playing Irish music. I think one of the crazy waiters at the restaurant who was also a musician came up with the name. We figured he had a knack for names… his band was called ‘The Crawl Space’.”
What is the best way to write music?
“Pen and paper. Make that pencil and paper so you can change stuff.”
Make sure you check out the Buddy O’Reilly Band playing at Eddie’s Attic on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th!