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Music for a Memorial

With benefit concert at Iota, Daly family raises funds to remember husband and father.

Last November, Dave Daly was still on the home team, still on the court, still passing the ball. Only 55, Daly died on the basketball court a year ago this month, suffering a heart attack during a regular game with friends.

This year, his son Skip Daly hopes to turn the anniversary of his father’s death into a happier event, a concert raising scholarship money for middle school students at his own alma mater with the Dave Daly Scholarship Fund Benefit Concert, Nov. 22 at Iota Club and Café.

“When my father passed away last November, it was quite the shock to all of us,” said Skip Daly. “I still miss him everyday. But after the initial shock, we tried to think how we could do something positive about this.”

<b>THE DALY FAMILY</b> set up the Daly Scholarship Fund at Holy Redeemer School, an elementary and middle school in College Park, Md., where both Skip Daly and his brother went to school.

With its first scholarships this spring, the Fund will offer two academic and one athletic scholarship to graduating eighth grade students, in order to allow them to seek a private high school education.

Skip Daly and his brother Sean decided to raise scholarship money with annual events that would honor the ways they spent time with their father: the benefit concert and a golf tournament, to debut next spring.

“He loved playing golf. Since my brother’s the sports guy, I figured I would do the concert,” said Skip. “My dad wasn’t the music-head I am, but I would take him out to see shows with me.”

<b>FINDING MUSICIANS</b> to play the concert wasn’t a problem for Daly, who with two friends runs BOS Music, a small independent music label. Most of the acts on the bill for the concert have worked with Daly and BOS over the years.

But the lineup isn’t just a catchall of friends’ bands, said Daly. In fact, his own band OddBox isn’t even performing. “I wanted this to be an event that featured quality musicians,” he said. “I didn’t want to turn this into an opportunity to plug my own band.”

Instead, he found a headliner in Todd Sheaffer, a New Jersey-based veteran of the music industry with the bands From Good Homes and Railroad Earth, and a friend of Daly. Sheaffer is also a veteran of Iota, and Steven Negrey, the club’s owner, said that his presence on the bill will attract interest in the benefit concert.

Sheaffer describes his own music as folk-tinged. “I probably fall somewhere in the troubadour lineage,” he said. “I tell some stories in my songs.”

Skip Daly said he would take his father to Sheaffer’s shows, and concerts by Denny Tilton, another performer on the bill. “I would drag him out to see Todd and Denny,” said Daly. “He was definitely more into sports, but he knows… he knew I’m into music. Initially it was more like dragging him out, but he began to appreciate it more and more.”

Sheaffer remembers his friend’s father at the shows. “I think he probably went because he knew his son was interested,” said Sheaffer. “Once he got there, he saw why [Skip] liked it. I have a hard time thinking he would have showed up at one of my shows without Skip bringing him. But once he got there, he had a good time.”

<b>UNLIKE SHEAFFER,</b> Cletus Kennelly never had a chance to meet Dave Daly. He only met Skip when the Kennelly and OddBox were recording albums in the same studio.

But Skip Daly asked Kennelly, a regular on the Washington music scene, to play a specific song at the show, in part a memorial to Daly’s father. Daly requested “Looking Up,” a song Kennelly wrote after the Sept. 11 attacks. “It’s the only song I’ve heard about Sept. 11 that doesn’t make me want to puke,” said Daly.

Like Sheaffer, Kennelly says his music shows some folk leanings. “Everybody who plays acoustic guitar is something-slash-something,” he said. “I’d say I’m folk/rock. But to some people, folk is always ‘60s-era stuff.”

While he never met Dave Daly, Kennelly is happy to play a benefit in his honor. “I like the guys at BOS Music. I’d do any kind of benefit they had,” he said. “I love benefits. Beyond the fact that the money goes somewhere good, the vibe is good. Everyone knows they’re there for the same reason.”

This year, Daly thinks much of the audience will come “because they know my dad. But I want them to come back because it’s good music.”

With the lineup of Tilton, Sheaffer and Kennelly, Negrey said the show should attract more than just Daly family and friends. “It’s something I can present to the community as something good, that’s going to a good cause,” he said.

Sheaffer’s looking forward to the concert, and playing at Iota again. “It’s a real nice place to share the love,” he said. “They’re taking what might be a sad anniversary and making something positive out of it.”