People who attend shows put on by singer/songwriter Pat Dailey know what they're going to get. They like the trigger phrases he sends out that signal it's time for audience participation. They like the way he teases them. They like his songs about fish and about Ohio, the drinking songs and the love songs, and the sly digs Dailey gives to what some would call his Florida counterpart, Jimmy Buffett. Once in a while, some brave soul even requests a Buffett tune from Dailey, which he artfully sidesteps. He returns to his repertoire of fish songs. Or throws out a novelty number about a bar. And people like it so much, they have kept Dailey busy with steady year-round gigs, mainly divided between Put-in-Bay, OH, and Key West, FL. For almost a decade, in fact, Dailey has sold out the approximately 40 concerts he plays annually. His yearly schedule is beefed up by almost 100 more bar shows. Despite his comical aversion for Buffett, Dailey has ended up with the nickname "the Jimmy Buffett of the North."
The Nebraska native first ventured into the music arena during high school, when he fronted his own group, Pat & the K-Tones. Dailey and his band performed for local events and sock hops until graduation ended the fun and Dailey entered the Marines. Music remained a part of his life throughout his time in the service, and he would play acoustic guitar and cover popular numbers. When Uncle Sam sent him to Hawaii in 1960, Dailey was slotted as the opening act for popular Hawaiian singer Don Ho. Upon his discharge from the Marines, he started to spend a lot of time on the road. By the end of the decade, Dailey frequently appeared at Shipwreck Kelly's in Chicago when not performing in such cities as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Steamboat Springs, and Seattle. He settled down somewhat in California's Mann County, where he made his sailboat into his home when he wasn't playing around the country. He eventually made his way to Cleveland and the Great Lakes region, where he found a solid fan base on the island of Put-In-Bay, where he has played summer weekends at the Beer Barrel Saloon since the late '70s. In addition, he has been booked for more than 15 winters at Key West's Sloppy Joe's.
Shel Silverstein, a noted songwriter, author, and poet who wintered over in Key West, decided he wanted to collaborate with Dailey after witnessing one of his performances in 1984. The songwriting partnership was a strong and happy one until Silverstein passed away in 1999. Silverstein wrote "A Boy Named Sue," which was a huge hit for country star Johnny Cash, as well as the Irish Rovers' "The Unicorn Song," among numerous others. The many collaborations by Dailey and Silverstein include "Vermilion," "On the Water," "The Great Lakes Song," "Ugly Feet," "Walleye Willie," and "Blue Catawba Moon." ~ Linda Seida