Neil Ortiz: Paul, how would you describe your band Patty's Well?
Paul Moore: Patty's Well is an Irish band based in Philadelphia. We've been together for about four years. We have a nice little niche with the Irish music in Philadelphia. There's a big subculture of Irish-American people and people from Ireland and they live in Philadelphia, in the suburbs. We tend to attract a lot of the folks that have family from Ireland or they themselves are from Ireland. We like to play the music from our forefathers, grandparents and parents. That's what we do.
Neil: You guys have a great connection with the local community. I've been out to a First Friday. Tell me a little about that, about the Irish community here in this place.
Paul: Well, First Friday was an idea I had. It came to me, I don't know in a dream. Brittingham's is one of the best pubs in the area and all of Philadelphia. They've had Irish music going on for thirty years or more. I don't live far from here and we just decided to have a happy hour type of session with the Irish, with the music. I make it affordable for people. No cover charge, just a lot of fun, camaraderie, like an Irish wedding, Irish wake, or Irish party. The AOH community (Ancient Order of Hibernians) around here is really tremendous. They have a lot of divisions that are either Philadelphia or Montgomery County that come out to support us all the time. We are very fortunate with the support of the local Irish community.
Neil: That's one thing I always tell people, it's like going to a wedding. This is awesome. It amazing how you can sit across from an 80-year-old and look over and there is a 20-year-old. Everybody's just having a good time.
Paul: You've probably said it better than I could. The crowd that we draw is that. It's family. It's your 75- year-old grandfather, your mother and maybe your kids. Coming out to enjoy their music, their heritage and we talk about it in our songs and in our stories. It comes across to the people that come out to see us, we're just like them. We're Irish-Americans. We're proud of our roots. We're proud of our heritage and we like to sing about it and have a good time with it...This is the time of the year, too coming up in March, St. Patrick's Day, the parade in Philadelphia, the Conshohocken Parade we will be involved with, Philadelphia Parade and also St. Patrick's Day in Brittingham's.
Neil: When people come out who are not Irish-American, what is it you like to tell people about your community through your music?
Paul: I think it helps to be Irish to enjoy Patty's Well. You don't have to be Irish to enjoy Patty's Well and the Irish music. Once you learn a few of the songs and you can sing along. Immigrants from anywhere, whether they are from Italy, Germany, Puerto Rico or Mexico, they have a sense of homeland pride, too. A lot of the songs do crossover a bit when we sing them. And we try and tell people the stories behind the songs of immigration and missing your homeland, so that's part of it. And having fun, that's an international experience, you know having fun, good time with a few pints of Guinness is never hard to get people to enjoy your band, you know?
Niel: What made you want to be a musician? Did you grow up in a musical household?
Paul: The reason I decided to become a musician was basically my family. We had a big Irish family with a lot of singers. We sit around the tables at the holidays, like St. Patrick's Day, like Christmas and Easter and we would sing songs. I happen to learn to play guitar at a young age and I would accompany my family members in these great sessions and songs. So that inspired me as a young boy and when I became older, I went to school in Ireland. I learned the songs in Ireland from the Irish, the traditional aspects of the music; that was probably the biggest thing that pushed me into playing Irish music in America. I came back from Dublin in '85 with a whole new perspective of the Irish music. I really wanted to convey it in pubs which I don't think there was a big call for Irish music in the pubs like there is today. That was what my goal was and I'm very happy and I think I've accomplished that in a lot of ways.
Neil: What is Irish music? What is the music about?
Paul: Irish music is about everything. It's life. We sing about songs of love, of despair, immigration, of famine. We also talk about parties and weddings and having fun. Drinking songs are always a popular one, rebel songs. It's the history of the people, really is what it is, in both Ireland and America. Because when we came to this country we struggled, long and hard. And the things that we did have were family and the community to enjoy each other and celebrate the little things in life that maybe made them happy. So, I think that when we come together at First Friday with Patty's Well, people have a party. Whether it's celebrating a victory, a rebel cause or singing a sad song from the famine times. We try and convey it all and I think it comes out pretty well here on First Friday's at Brittingham's.
Neil: What you guys do seems so appropriate for nowadays. People are going through a tough time today with the economy. You guys sing about overcoming struggles and maintaining your sense of identity and being happy.
Paul: I do. I think the economy today in America, it's funny. The economy doesn't hurt the Irish Pubs too much. Despite people maybe being out of work or not working as much, or having as much money. They still want to come to the pub and sing a song and forget about their troubles. I think that's a great thing about Irish music. It makes you forget about the reality sometimes, for maybe two or three hours and we try to do that every week.
You can catch First Friday's with Patty's Well at Brittinghams in Lafayette Hill, Pa.
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