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Father and son bond through song

  • AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Pat McGeehan plays lead banjo to the rhythm guitar of his son, Shane. Exposed to folk and bluegrass music as an infant, Shane picked up the guitar at age six and now joins his dad at parties and festivals.
    AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Pat McGeehan plays lead banjo to the rhythm guitar of his son, Shane. Exposed to folk and bluegrass music as an infant, Shane picked up the guitar at age six and now joins his dad at parties and festivals.
Published October 24. 2009 09:00AM

"When we are on stage playing together, Shane will make a mistake or I'll make a mistake and the two of us will look at each other and laugh," said Pat McGeehan of his 13-year-old son and musical partner, "but nobody else will know it."

"We'll smile or laugh because we know what happened. It's kind of a fun atmosphere between the two of us," Pat continued and joked. "Except now that Shane's older, I have to share the money with him."

Summit Hill bluegrass musician, Pat McGeehan, enjoys touring the Carbon County festival circuit-often performing with bandmates Dave Lucas, and Jillian Miller as the Coal County Express. But whether performing alone or with his band, Pat usually invites Shane onto the stage for a set-one that typically includes Cat Steven's Father and Son-with Pat singing the part of the father and Shane singing the son's part; and Dueling Banjos from the film Deliverance with Pat on banjo and Shane on guitar,

Pat, a self-taught musician, picked up his first instrument , a banjo, when he was about the same age as Shane is now. It was 1979.

"It wasn't even my banjo," Pat said. "it belonged to a friend. The two of us shared it and were learning together. When I wanted to practice, I brought it home for a couple of days, then when he wanted to practice, he'd take it back."

In Pat's family of seven brothers and sisters, one of his brothers played banjo and another played guitar. "I listened to them play and enjoyed the music so much."

Pat never took a formal lesson. "I played by ear and read tablature," he explained. "I spent hours and hours with the banjo-almost that whole summer, my friends didn't see me. I was in the house practicing."

Pat practiced bluegrass and the folk rock music of the Eagles and Crosby, Stills and Nash. To improve his playing, Pat learned the guitar, which he taped recorded and then, played the banjo to the playback.

While in high school, Pat worked at a music store. "Some older folks that came in played fiddle and mandolin," he explained. "We got together and played for fun. They would stop at the music store and we'd grab instruments and we'd start playing. That's was my first experience playing in a band with other people." From there, Pat became semiprofessional, playing at parties and festivals.

By the time Pat's wife, Rosemary, was pregnant with Shane, music had become the family's passion. "Pat used to sing when I was pregnant," Rosemary said. "They say that music is soothing to the baby."

"I was not always playing bluegrass," Pat said of the music he played to his pregnant wife."I play folk also."

"When Shane as little, he always loved music," noted Rosemary. "He was always singing as a baby in his crib. When he went to school we would put things to song, even our address, and sing all the time."

"We didn't believe in a quiet house," Pat explained. "We'd get together with a bunch of friends, maybe light a fire in the backyard and sit around and play our instruments. Among the people with Dobros and stand up basses was little Shane running around in diapers."

Shane's first memory of an interest in music was when he was six-years-old. His older cousin, who was watching him, brought a guitar and after a long boring day, Shane asked if he could try it. "I don't think Shane put it down since that day," Rosemary said.

"My dad taught me simple chords and I practiced every day," Shane said. "Getting taught by my dad was pretty cool. After all, we didn't have to pay him and he was patient because I'm his son."

"Teaching my son was great because I knew he has a passion for it-and he's very passionate about music. I'm very proud of how talented he is."

With great hopes, they took Shane to the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City where auditions were being held for America's Got Talent. Shane estimates about 2,000 people were waiting to be called. At 13-years-old, he was one of the youngest. They didn't call him back, but now he knows what to expect for next time.

He's thinking of waiting until he's 16-years-old before giving it another try. Then, he'll be eyeing both America's Got Talent and American Idol. "I want to get recognized," Shane said. "I know I'm pretty good. I want people for hear me."

In the long run, Shane's plans are to go to college to become a music teacher.

Look for Pat and Shane McGeehan playing at a party, restaurant or a festival near you. For information, contact them at:

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