Ask Frank Daly how the plans are going for the Philadelphia Fleadh—many acts on 4 stages in bucolic Pennypack Park on Saturday, June 22—and he’ll boil it down to one word. “Insane.”
“I’m not even kidding,” said Daly, front man for the popular Celtic rock group Jamison, when I caught up with him on the phone this week. “I didn’t realize how fragile all the pieces of this thing are.”
Can you say, Murphy’s Law, kids? First, the primo sound guy—he does Celtic Fest in Bethlehem and major rock shows—called to say he wasn’t sure he could pull this one off. (Crisis averted—turned out to be hard, but not impossible.) Then one of the sponsors backed out. (Crisis averted: the owner of Maggie’s on the Waterfront and Goodchild Repair Center stepped in—without being asked.) Final straw: The company providing the tents and the port-a-potties had the wrong date. (Crisis averted: They can do it on the 22nd.) “I thought, man, are you trying to give me a heart attack,” Daly said, laughing.
That’s right. He’s still laughing. Because in the end, he says, it will all work out. “If I thought about all the possible things that could go wrong that day I would never sleep at all. CJ (American Paddy and Jamison partner CJ Mills) and I keep each other sane and positive. We were sitting there the other night, all stressed out, and we suddenly said, do you realize what we’re doing here? This is really cool. So we cracked open a couple of beers, said ‘cheers’ and now let’s get back to it.”
Cool is the word for it. On the Celtic Rock stage, the Young Dubliners are headliners, though it’s likely the crowd will also be packed with fans of the local talent that includes Jamison, Blackthorn, Bogside Rogues, Galway Guild and Clancy’s Pistol. Hosting will be Dan Cronin of Chorus Communications, who is also a Celtic DJ and runs the Hair O’ The Dog gala, a event that has raised thousands of dollars for local nonprofits.
Over at the Sugarhouse Casino Trad Acoustic Stage, the John Byrne Band will be doing their Pogue’s Tribute Show, with the Ladeens, Seamus Kelleher and the Raymond Coleman Band performing. At noon, the Jameson Sister’s Terry Kane will be hosting a new tunes workshop at noon and hosting a session at 1 PM open to all local musicians. Marianne MacDonald, host of the WTMR 800AM radio show, “Come West Along the Road,” will be the trad stage emcee,
The Celtic Club Tent is for those whose taste veers to other musical genres—it’s a full day of DJs, including DJ Daily, DJ April, DJ AJ, DJ Ernesto, and Joey Catz.
On the Goodchild Repair Center American Ceili Stage you’ll be treated to performances by the Celtic Flame School of Irish Dance, the Cummins School of Irish Dance, the Pride of Erin, and, for a little American flare, demonstrations by teams from Action Karate. At 3 PM, you can also attend a workshop on Irish step dancing so you can do a little jigging yourself.
There are vendors, food, and bounce activities and face painting for the kiddies in the Leprechaun Green Kids Zone (“I let my 10-year-old girl name that,” explains Daly).
Daly expects a good sized crowd. “We’re already getting a lot of buzz,” he says. And he’s checked out the weather report. “Back in January I predicted it was going to be 83 degrees and partly cloudy and I looked at the extended weather report this week. It’s going to be 83 degrees and partly cloudy.”
Frank Daly is already better than the local stations at predicting the weather, so if he says it’s going to be a great time—and he does—you’d better believe him.
For more details or to buy tickets, go to the Philadelphia Fleadh website.