Irish Weekend has been a staple of the fall in North Wildwood since 1992.
And Paul Moore has missed just two of them.
He wasn’t around in 1992, when his band had a prior commitment. He missed another in 2005, shortly after he left the band Blackthorn, and instead went to vacation in Ireland to watch the GAA football finals in Dublin.
But every other year, the North Catholic High School graduate wasn’t just there, he was the main event.
This year, Irish Weekend has been canceled because of coronavirus, but Moore will be there. He will be leading the Paul Moore Band, which will perform at The Inlet on Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the last weekend of September to celebrate a scaled-back Irish Weekend.
As long as Moore and his boys are around, even if it’s unofficial, it will feel like Irish Weekend.
“It won’t be your typical Irish Weekend, we’ll have to socially distance, I won’t be able to hug people and people won’t be able to dance on tables, but they can come out, hear some music and celebrate,” said Moore, who grew up near Bridge and Pratt and later lived in Port Richmond before settling in Montgomery County. “I’m sure I’ll mess things up by getting too close. They’re only letting in as many people as is safe, but it’s a great place for a session.”
Moore’s band has always been the highlight of the weekend. When Irish Weekend was gaining momentum, Moore was the frontman of Blackthorn. He parted ways with the band in 2005 and joined Paddy’s Well before starting his current band about a decade ago.
“My wife told me that if I’m in another band, I should put my name in it so they can’t kick me out,’ Moore said with a laugh. “She’s smart.”
It’s also a good plan because anyone who likes Irish music in the area loves seeing Moore and the boys perform.
It will be fun for Moore, too, because due to coronavirus, he hasn’t spent a lot of time with his band, which consists of Patrick Close, lead guitar; Matt Brescia, tin whistle and squeeze box; Bill Binkley, fiddle; and Nick “Maguire” Morolda, bass.
“I did one show, it was down the shore, but it wasn’t the whole band,” said Moore, who plans on retiring this year from the Navy Depot. “It’s been hard for everyone, people can’t do what they love to do. For us, that’s be together, have fun and play music.”
Moore hasn’t been making music with his band, but he’s still performing. He’s just doing it in a different way.
Prior to the shutdown, Moore and his team would perform every first Friday of the month at Brittingham’s Pub. That couldn’t happen, so Moore joined his son Conor to do Facebook Live concerts. Instead of playing for hundreds in the bar, they played for thousands on social media.
“It wasn’t too easy for me, to be honest, because it’s not what I like to do,” Moore said. “You’re playing for a cellphone. They would tell me people were watching, and I like playing music at home, that’s not unusual, but it’s unusual to do it for a phone.”
His son is also quite the musician.
He’s in his own band, Oakwyn, a band that also features Kevin O’Shea and Michael and Matt Fink. The band, which is named after the street Moore and the Finks grew up on, started when O’Shea met Moore at a show, and he introduced him to his son Conor.
“My son is much better, musically, than I am,” Moore said. “It was fun playing with him. We did the ones on Facebook and we also played a private party. He’s very good, and his band is very good, also. They play Irish music, but they also play, I guess you’d say, rock.”
Conor followed in dad’s footsteps, but Moore was quick to point out how successful his other kids are. His family also includes wife Geri, daughter Caitlyn, and sons Owen and Danny.
“I’m very proud of Conor, but I’m so proud of all the kids, they’re all doing very well,” Moore said. “They’re all doing great at what they do. Conor happens to do music, but I’m no prouder of him than the others. We are so proud of all of them.”
Music and family have always gone hand in hand for Moore. Growing up, it wasn’t unusual for his family to sit around and have a singing session. He didn’t own a piano, but his parents could afford to rent an accordion. He parlayed that into a great side gig, playing all over the area and many times in Ireland. But his start came at Emmett’s Place in Oxford Circle.
“I started out at Emmett’s Place, it was a great place,” Moore said. “Emmett Ruane is a great man, a North Catholic grad, and he gave us a chance. Then later when we started Blackthorn, he couldn’t afford us, and he told me I had to go. He was so great about it.”
Moore’s bands have played every big bar in the area. Locally, he regularly performs at the Ashburner Inn and Paddy Whacks. He also packed houses at bars like Finnigan’s Wake and Brownie’s 23 East when those clubs hosted bands. His music has also been heard at the biggest party in Philadelphia.
“When Terrell Owens was an Eagle, we were playing on (St. Patrick’s Day at Brownie’s 23 East) and the WIP Morning Show was broadcasting from there, so they would put us on the radio for a minute here or there,” Moore recalled. “It was just after the Eagles signed Owens, and I wrote a song, I didn’t write it, but I changed the words, instead of Ole, I would sing T.O. I told Angelo, ‘We have something for you,’ and played it.
“We had words for the whole song. That year, when Owens would score a touchdown, they would sing it. As a sports fan, that was fun.”
It’s certainly not the only hit he’s responsible for. His biggest might go back to Irish Weekend, when he arrived home one year and wrote “Road to Anglesea” in one sitting.
There is another one of his greatest hits he can’t take credit for writing, but it is one that’s near and dear to his heart. Despite being the only North Catholic graduate in the band, he’ll often play the alma mater during a concert. It’s a special shoutout to his friends and a place he loves.
“North Catholic is a huge part of who I am,” said Moore, who often plays North Catholic benefits and handles master of ceremonies at various Falcon events, including the North Catholic Soccer Hall of Fame banquet. “We play that for the boys, there’s always a North Catholic graduate or two in the crowd. It means a lot to all of us. It’s where we got a lot of our values from.”
You can be sure the alma mater will be on the set list in North Wildwood during his performances. So will fun.
“It will be a different Irish Weekend, but we’re going to have fun, we always do,” Moore said. “We will be safe. Everyone will take precautions, but we haven’t been together in a while, so we’re all looking forward to it.”
For more on the Paul Moore Band or to see when its next performances will be, search Paul Moore on Facebook.