The Seamus Conroy Band was formed at the beginning of 2006 and was originally comprised of four friends who met at an Irish Session in Morro Bay, and share a love of Celtic Music. They now are a trio, as fiddler Chuck Aronson has decided to retire from live playing. They cover a variety of Irish Ballads, Reels & Jigs. They like to perform acoustically without amplification in the traditional pub fashion, which makes for an intimate setting while being easy on the old eardrums. For 3 1/2 years they played every Tuesday night at the Crooked Kilt in Paso Robles, but are currently on hiatus from that endeavor. They are available for bookings through this website. The live cd "Joy Be With You All" was released in 2009 and is available at live performances and through this website.
The band is composed of: Seamus Conroy on vocals,guitar,fiddle and bodhran.Melanie Marie on vocals,guitar and bodhran, Chuck Aronson on fiddle, mandolin and vocals, and when he isn't soooooooo busy Stuart Mason on mandola and vocals.
Favorite gigs of the past year are the Red Barn in Los Osos, The Clark Center in Arroyo Grande and coming up the Jade Festival in Big Sur on Oct.7th.
The Seamus Tale
On September 10th 2003, the Great Leprechaun in the sky smiled down on me, as I stood on the plot of land my ancestors lived upon before immigrating to America in 1852. Six months earlier, I knew nothing of my Irish heritage, as my father’s mother had mysteriously kept all knowledge of it from him. Now, through the miracle of the digital universe I was able to find that history, and track scores of relative’s lives back to this green field on the outskirts of Borris-in-Ossory, County Laois, Ireland. An overwhelming sense of awe crept over me, as I humbly thanked that laughing spirit. In a few short hours, the same leprechaun would give me an even bigger wink.
My odyssey really started in ’99 when I first journeyed to Ireland on a tour of the British Isles with the SLO Vocal Arts Ensemble. After the tour ended, I spent two weeks traveling around Ireland with the choir’s director Gary Lamprecht and his wife Pat. We followed the Yeat’s trail while searching for the elusive butterfly of traditional Irish music. One late afternoon in the tiny fishing village of Kinvara, I feel asleep on a bench next to the dock and had a dream where the Seamus character woke within me. Pat had started to teasingly call me Seamus, which is basically Irish for James, and after that dream I welcomed the new moniker. Upon arriving home, the Lamprecht’s and I were inspired to form our own Celtic group “The Irish Potatoeheads” along with Inga Swearingen (later Judy Philbin), Nan Hamilton and Cambria’s own Scott Wright on flute. We had a good three- year run with the band, but perhaps our crowning moment came when we appeared onstage with the Chieftains at the PAC. Before the concert I got to speak for a brief moment with their charismatic leader Paddy Maloney who is without a doubt the most famous figure in Irish music.
Two years later, I again found myself about to go onstage with the Chieftains at the PAC and in another short conversation with Paddy. However, this time I really had something to say to him. A short while before, Pat Lamprecht lent me a Chieftain video where Paddy is standing before an old stone cottage telling how it was the place where he learned Irish music as a child along with his cousin. The cottage was called “The Conroy House.” So, as I shook hands with Paddy for the second time, I reminded him of the video and smugly told him I was a Conroy. His Irish eyes smiled at this, as he asked if I had traced my roots. Somewhat ashamed because I was calling myself an Irish musician, I told him I had not, and our conversation soon ended.
That second meeting with Paddy Maloney haunted my being, and a few months later I began the search for me past. The details of that journey are too intricate to relate, but let me assure you it was a grueling and mystical one. Countless hours at the computer along with some unbelievable Irish luck had led me back to the plot of land where I now stood, as the voices of the ancestors were ringing in my ears. I was about to call it a monumental day and go back to the B&B for an Irish brew, but there was one more stop to make at the town historian’s house for some filler information. I almost passed it up, but my companion Mel made me go. Lilly Sheeran, a simply wonderful Irish crone, invited us in for a spot of tea, and gladly gave us a rambling stream of consciousness town history. Suddenly, she stopped and said, “You know there’s a Conroy up in Camross who has a music and dance studio at his house, wait, and I’ll go get his phone number.”
Mel and I smiled at each other, as we had visited Camross the day before and found a cache of Conroy graves at the Church cemetery there. After that we took an enchanting drive back into the surrounding countryside. We were now use to this synchronistic type of connection for our trip had been filled with them. However, we were not ready for what was to happen next. After a couple of minutes, Lilly returned with a slip of paper and said, “Here’s Stephen Conroy’s phone number, now you tell him Lilly told you to call.” She paused before lowering the boom, “And by the way, he’s Paddy Maloney’s cousin.” We sat there stunned realizing we just hit the Holy Grail of ancestral travels, as the Great Leprechaun chuckled nearby.
Of course, we called Stephen Conroy, and the next day met up with him at a nearby pub. He recounted the story of how he and his cousin Paddy sat in the hearth of the Conroy House and listened while the elders played and danced. In fact, we had come mighty close to that old stone cottage on our drive the previous day. After hearing our story, he admitted that we must be cousins too. We were scheduled to leave the next day, but promised to visit again, and he invited us to stay at his place when we did.
A year later, I was once again set to go onstage with the Chieftains at the PAC when they made their third appearance there. Paddy, by then, was aware of my story, and we had spoken briefly before the concert. As we walked off stage that night at the end of the show, he winked at me and called me cuz.
And that my friends is the Seamus tale, and why I sing Irish music and probably will until I meet up with me ancestors and the Great Leprechaun in the sky. By the by, Paddy’s mother was a Conroy, and Conroy means Jester (Con) to the (Roi) Kings. Please come see the Seamus Conroy Band at Painted Sky for their cd release concert on March 7th just a wink and a nod before St. Paddy’s day.
"Easy and Free" home recording w/Stuart Mason on mandola.