HAVERFORD — Pat O’Shea was only 5 years old when his father was killed in an automobile accident. Except for stories that his mother and relatives told him while he was growing up, he barely knew his father because he never had the chance.
Years later, as a man in his 30s, with two children of his own, O’Shea experienced more of an intense longing to get to know his father.
Patrick O’Shea died in 1976, at the age of 24 in Beaver County. He was a conductor for the Penn Central Railroad. He left behind a young family, as well as the priceless gift of a worn-out suitcase full of poetry that inspired his family to carry on. Luckily, his mother held onto that old, battered suitcase containing contents that young Pat would treasure someday.
O’Shea, who never paid attention to the poems while he was a young boy, sat and read and re-read every one of them when he was an adult.
“I got the feeling that he knew that he was going to die young,” O’Shea said. “He wrote the poems while he traveled for his job and as I read them, I could really feel a connection to him.”
His heart, full of emotion, inspired O’Shea to begin penning a response to each of his father’s poems.
In 2008, O’Shea published a book of poetry, “Conversations We Never Had.” The book is the laid out father/son conversation, with his father’s original poems on the left pages and Pat’s responses in poetry form, on the opposite right pages. O’Shea dedicated the book to his younger brother Ryan Ashley O’Shea, who died from Reye’s Syndrome, a year after his father passed away. The epitaphs on both his father’s and brother’s tombstones were poems written by his father of him.
This year, O’Shea, who plays drums in the Irish band, Shades of Green, joined band mates Scot Silver, Jim Briggs, and Eric Schreiber, and incorporated the poems from the book into music. The result is a beautifully composed CD of the same name, “Conversations We Never Had.”
“The CD is the ultimate tribute that I could make to my dad,” O’Shea proclaimed. “While my father was not a musician, one of the few memories that I have of him is how much he loved music. I know he would have appreciated this.”
The local musicians dedicated the new CD to their fathers, Patrick O’Shea, Lloyd Briggs, Thomas Schreiber, and Morry Silber. They wrote this dedication on their debut CD’s colorful green cover that was designed by Briggs: “Cheers to the strong men who helped shape us into who we are today.”
O’Shea, a resident of Plymouth Meeting, teaches percussion and drums at Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield and St. Aloysius Academy in Bryn Mawr. Scot Silver of Phoenixville owns and teaches at Silver Music Studios, 1221 W. Chester Pike in Havertown. Jim Briggs, of Newtown Square, is owner and founder of the internet marketing company Airdrie Media. Eric Schreiber of Chadds Ford is vice president of software development at American Heritage Credit Union. All four Shades of Green bandmates are not only bonded by their music. They also share the common bond of being fathers themselves.
O’Shea, who plays drums/percussion for Shades of Green, has two children. Silver, the band’s lead guitarist and vocalist, also has two children. Schreiber, Shades of Green’s bassist, has three kids and Briggs, the rhythm guitarist and vocalist, has one child.
The band members said, although they had discussed doing something musically with the poems, it wasn’t until the pandemic when they finally had the time to do it.
“We had discussed the possibility of turning the book into music over the years, as each poem has a distinct tone and story,” Silver explained. “Collaborating on our CD during the pandemic, actually kept our band together when we were unable to play venues in person. Personally, I have released five other CDs, but this is, by far, my favorite and most special because it’s so meaningful. It touches a universal nerve. Both the book and the album are a progression of life from a young boy to being a father.”
Shades of Green will be one of the headlining performers at Kelly Music for Life’s Fourth Annual Havertown Irish Festival, taking place in the Manoa Shopping Center rear lot, 11 am to 8 pm Saturday, June 25. The Irish Festival is free to attend and will feature all-things-green, with live Irish music, dance demonstrations, children’s fun zone, food vendors and a beer garden. Shades of Green will have plenty of their new inspirational Irish CDs on hand and they look forward to performing songs from their new CDs for the festival’s audience.
Shades of Green band members describe their music as “Irish Rock/ Americana, with some traditional Irish music in the mix.” They often use Irish step dancers for added rhythm and a whistler to play a pennywhistle for added effect. The local Irish band performs at Irish festivals, Irish restaurants and taverns, post Irish parade gatherings, private parties and more.
“Conversations We Never Had’ is an inspirational musical story of how a father and son connect from beyond the grave, with the songs created as a blend of father and son poetry,” Silver explained. “Each selection is a combo of father and son woven together in song.”
One of the songs on the CD, “Death and Black,” was the first played on the radio and is now up for WSTW’s Hometown Heroes 13th Annual Homey Award. “Down the Line” is one of O’Shea’s favorites, because it thanks fathers for all of their hard work. O’Shea said when his mother heard the completed CD, she was so happy and emotional that she cried several times.
“I really learned my father’s personality and who he was through his poems,” O’Shea said. “Putting his feelings from him and my feelings to song has been special to me and my mother.”
The CD opens with the song, “I’m Irish,” with the lyrics describing stereotypical characteristics of Irish men, like loyalty, bravery, drinking, fighting, and stubbornness. The chorus chants, “I guess I’m Irish, I got it from you, a temper like a boiling stew….”, Other songs include, “Rock the Caboose,” “Song To Shatter Stone,” “In My Mind, ”among others.
The album has been released on all streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, iHeart Radio, and Deezer. The book and CD are both available on http://Amazon.com.
“Writing a book with my deceased father’s poetry was the ultimate way to connect with him from beyond the grave,” O’Shea stated. “He died a young man but he was truly an old soul. It’s even more overwhelming to hear his words from him become songs, and even more personal to be able to merge his poetry from him with my lifetime dedication to drumming!
For more information on Shades of Green, visit http://www.scotsilvermusic.com/shades-of-green. To book Shades of Green for a performance, or purchase their new CD, call 610-359-8535.