Patrick Huston Dailey was born in Omaha Nebraska on March 4, 1941, but those facts are of minor significance. What is of major importance is his discovery of Put-In-Bay – Key West’s northern knockoff that shares an equal amount of boat docks and deviants in search of debauchery.
The musician first took the stage at the popular Beer Barrel Saloon in the summer of 1978 and his instincts told him, “there was magic in the place.” In the winter of 1984, Pat gave Key West and the Hemingway hangout, Sloppy Joe’s Bar a tryout. He turns 70 in a few days but his affinity for women, manufactured and left-handed cigarettes, beer and fun are as healthy as ever.
Some would say you are the “The coolest SOB in the world.” What evidence is there been to support this claim?
Well. Since you are local paper, I will tell you. When I first came here, Jim Mayer, who used to own that bar came up to me after a set yelling, ‘How dare you, I am the coolest Son of a Bitch in the world!’ He first confronted me, but after seeing my first show, he gave up. He was a pretty cool guy.
Every kid who graduates from an Ohio high school must memorize your popular “Great Lakes Song.” In fact, nearly every kid who lives within 100 miles of the great freshwater lakes learns the ballad. When you were writing this tune, were you worried that it would be too good?
Yes I was. I was thinking of screwing it up a bit. I had a feeling it was going to be too good. But you know what happens. Every time you write a song, everyone says they like it, but no one ever told me it was great, so I figured, ‘Shit it must not have been that good.’ Shel (Silverstein) told me it was a great American folk song, so I believed it.
You and the famous author of “The Giving Tree” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” Shel Silverstein first met in Key West and ended up becoming lifelong friends. Even though you also carry the celebrity moniker, were you ever astonished at his fame?
When I took him to my house in Bay Village near Cleveland, we had just come from Put-in-Bay and were walking into the house. The neighborhood kids were playing outside and this one kid – his eyes got real big and he took off running. Pretty soon, the neighbors were knocking on my door. His mother, this lady who would’ve never knocked on my door said, ‘My kid saw him on the street and told me.
In “The Drinking Song,” you sing that you always have a really good time when you go out drinking. Any instances of boozing that ended in disappointment and disaster?
Jesus. How would I remember? I have a great way of getting those things out of my mind. “Disappointment” and “Disaster” are not words that I live with. There were some pretty nasty endings, but if it is an experience it is not a disappointment. And if you wake up the next morning, it is not a disaster.
You enjoy boozing, boating, and look like that other famous fellow associated with Sloppy Joe’s. Have you ever read a Hemingway novel, and if so, what character would you most identify with? The androgynous Jake from the Sun Also Rises? For Whom the Bell Tolls guerilla leader Robert Jordan, or Francis Macomber – the cowardly, yet famously rich hunter with a smoking hot wife from the short story bearing his name?
None of them. I would be Santiago from “The Old Man and the Sea.” I like the fact that he was solo – by himself with no one (expletive deleted) with him or bothering him.
Really his whole fishing trip is like life itself. You struggle, struggle and struggle, but if you work hard you wind up winning in the end.
The humidity and winds of Put-In-Bay and Key West are relatively the same. However, there are slight temperature variations between the two locations. What other similarities and differences are shared between your two homes, other than the gutters?
The people are exactly the same. Especially those who come to my shows. The first few years here, I thought most of the audience must be from Put-In-Bay.
It is not the same out West. I am the same guy, but the crowds do not react the same way. They are much more reserved.
Pat Dailey will be performing around 7 pm every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday between now and March 5 at Sloppy Joes Bar in Key West.