by Brenda Hillegas
“Are you following all this?” Frank Daly asks as he explains the evolution and line up of his band, Jamison.
Jamison grew out of the streets of Philadelphia in 2003.
“Our band was actually started by a guy named Joe Driscol. Joe was a drummer and did booking for his brother’s bar Finnegan’s Wake. He had about a million members until he landed our bass player Dave Lynd,” Daly continues. “John O’Callaghan joined as the singer about six years ago and after about four other singers. I started sitting in about the same time and would sing a song or two. The band really was terrible. We had the four of us and a fiddle and accordion player.”
The band is far from terrible now. As a regular in the Celtic music scene around this area, Jamison always gets the crowd off their feet. This is a pretty easy task to do for a high energy band like this one, but these guys never fail to push the audience over the edge. At the area’s annual Mid-Winter Scottish and Irish Festival this March, the various conversations heard by people walking through the crowds often involved Jamison.
“These guys are worth checking out,” “How have we never seen them before?,” “I’m gonna buy those guys some drinks!”
The band currently consists of Daly on vocals, electric guitar, mandolin, and tin whistle, O’Callaghan on acoustic guitar and vocals, Lynd on the bass, CJ Mills on the fiddle, and Sean Callaghan on the drums.
“Truly the most talented line up that I have ever worked with,” Daly says.
With all of the musicians coming from different musical backgrounds and Irish music being a common thread to pull the band together, they decided to create music in a newer genre, Celtic rock.
“This was not like Irish rock that combined rock instruments into Irish music, like the Pogues or Dropkick Murphy’s, but included that and then some,” says Daly. “We worked to try to seamlessly mesh Irish music into rock, dance music, hip hop, and rap. Making Irish music more accessible to an American audience and helping to not only promote our Irish roots, but our Irish American roots.”
They do a killer version of Usher and Pitbull’s “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love”. If rapping and fiddling don’t sound like a good combination, think again. It’s on YouTube. By transitioning from a traditional Irish jig to Tom Petty’s “American Girl” there’s no question as to why Jamison was voted “Best Irish Band” in America.
“The contest was suggested to me by a manager at Kildare’s in West Chester,” says Daly. “We signed up and made the first cut to 40 bands, then the second to 5 bands, then it was really close up until the end. We weren’t even sure we won until the contest closed.”
The title won them a trip to Vegas.
“Playing in Vegas was everything you think it will be,” Daly says. “McFadden’s was crazy out there. We played two shows at their location in the Rio hotel. We brought about 35 people out with us and everybody had a ball. The bar was packed with Vegas crazies. I’d go back to play there again in a heartbeat. As far as the rest of the trip, I can’t really talk about it. You know, because it’s Vegas.”
They’ve even had their songs featured on an Irish radio station. Ironically, the band has never performed in Ireland.
“I have and John has, but with other bands. All of us have played in other Irish bands in the past,” says Daly. “As far as radio, John has cousins over in Ballyhaunis that are always promoting us. I guess they said the right thing to the right person.”
I think the “right” people need to continue getting Jamison’s name out and about. They’re known in Vegas and another country, but they don’t even have CDs available? Come on guys, you’re the “best Irish band in America” what’s going on?
“We are actually recording a live album at Media Music on June 29th. We should have it mixed this summer and have it available for the fall,” says Daly.
Awesome, because while at Mid-Winter the crowd was also looking for CDs. With credit cards in one hand and a beer in the other, it was sad to have to turn them away. Next year, the guys will be prepared.
No need to wait until next year to experience Jamison, though.
“Big plans (this summer). Mostly down the Jersey Shore. We do every Saturday at Keenan’s in North Wildwood from 5-9 and every Sunday at Shenanigans from 8-12,” says Daly. Mark your calendars. “This is the 4th year for that and it’s always a great time. We also will be playing Casey’s in North Wildwood a lot, perhaps our favorite place to play. We have a few dates close to home as well at Curran’s in Tacony and Dubh Linn Square in Cherry Hill.”
Their complete schedule is available at jamisoncelticrock.com. Go buy Daly and his bandmates a well-deserved drink. No excuses if you’re at the shore this summer either, because we all will be at some point.