HAVERFORD — Pat O’Shea was only 5 years old when his father was killed in a car accident. Except for the stories his mother and relatives told him while he was growing up, he barely knew his father because he had never had the chance.
Years later, as a man in his thirties with two children of his own, O’Shea felt a more intense desire 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 leaves behind a young family, as well as the priceless gift of a worn suitcase full of poetry that inspired his family to carry on. Luckily, his mother saved this battered old suitcase containing the contents that young Pat would one day cherish.
O’Shea, who never paid attention to the poems as a young boy, sat down and read and re-read each of them as an adult.
“I had a feeling he knew he was going to die young,” O’Shea said. “He wrote the poems while traveling for work and as I read them I could really feel a connection to him.”
His heart, full of emotion, inspired O’Shea to begin writing 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 presented father/son conversation, with his father’s original poems on the left-hand pages and Pat’s responses in poetry form, on the opposite right-hand pages. O’Shea dedicated the book to his younger brother Ryan Ashley O’Shea, who died of Reye’s Syndrome, a year after his father passed away. The epitaphs on his father’s and brother’s tombstones were poems written by his father.
This year O’Shea, who plays drums in the Irish band Shades of Green, joined the band Scot Silver, Jim Briggs and Eric Schreiber, and incorporated the poems from the book into the music. The result is a beautifully composed CD of the same name, “Conversations We Never Had”.
“The CD is the ultimate tribute I could pay to my father,” O’Shea proclaimed. “Although my father was not a musician, one of the few memories I have of him is how much he loved music. I know he would have appreciated that.
Local musicians have dedicated the new CD to their fathers, Patrick O’Shea, Lloyd Briggs, Thomas Schreiber and Morry Silber. They wrote this dedication on the colorful green cover of their debut CD which was designed by Briggs: “Bravo to the strong men who helped make us 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 the owner and founder of internet marketing company Airdrie Media. Chadds Ford’s Eric Schreiber is vice president of software development at the American Heritage Credit Union. The four members of the group Shades of Green are not only linked by their music. They also share the common bond of being fathers themselves.
O’Shea, who plays drums and percussion for Shades of Green, has two children. Silver, the band’s guitarist and lead vocalist, also has two children. Shades of Green bassist Schreiber has three children and rhythm guitarist and vocalist Briggs has one child.
The band members said that while they discussed doing something musical with the poems, it wasn’t until the pandemic that they finally got around to doing it.
“We had discussed turning the book into music over the years, because each poem has a distinct tone and story,” Silver explained. “Collaborating on our CD during the pandemic actually allowed our band to stay together when we weren’t able to play venues in person. Personally, I’ve released five other CDs, but this is by far my favorite and the most special because it’s so meaningful. It touches a universal nerve. The book and album are a progression from a young boy’s life to being a father.
Shades of Green will be one of the headliners at Kelly Music for Life’s fourth annual Irish Havertown Festival, taking place in the back lot of the Manoa Shopping Center from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 25. The Irish Festival is free and will feature all things green, with live Irish music, dance demonstrations, a children’s entertainment area, food vendors and a beer garden. Shades of Green will have plenty of their inspiring new Irish CDs on hand and they can’t wait to perform songs from their new CD for festival audiences.
The members of Shades of Green describe their music as “Irish/Americana rock, with traditional Irish music in the mix”. They often use Irish dancers for added rhythm and a whistle to play a pennywhistle for added effect. The local Irish band perform at Irish festivals, Irish restaurants and taverns, Irish parade gatherings, private parties and much more.
“Conversations We Never Had” is an inspiring musical story about how a father and son connect from beyond the grave, with 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 from the CD, “Death and Black”, was the first to receive radio airplay and is now up for the WSTW’s 13th Annual Hometown Heroes Homey Award. “Down the Line” is one of O’Shea’s favorites because it thanks dads for all their hard work. O’Shea said that when her mother heard the finished CD, she was so happy and moved that she cried several times.
“I really learned about my father’s personality and who he was through his poems,” O’Shea said. “Putting her feelings and my feelings into song has been special for me and my mom.”
The CD opens with the song “I’m Irish”, the lyrics of which describe stereotypical characteristics of Irish men, such as loyalty, bravery, drinking, fighting and stubbornness. The chorus sings, “Guess I’m Irish, 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 was released on all streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, iHeart Radio and Deezer. The book and CD are available at http://amazon.com.
“Writing a book with my late father’s poetry was the ultimate way to connect with him from beyond the grave,” O’Shea said. “He died young but he was truly an old soul. It’s even more overwhelming to hear his words become songs, and even more personal to be able to merge his poetry with my dedication to the drums!
For more information on Shades of Green, visit http://www.scotsilvermusic.com/shades-of-green. To book Shades of Green for a show or purchase their new CD, call 610-359-8535.