The Belfast Boys will perform “Ireland in Poetry and Song”, on Saturday, July 30, presented by Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music. Featuring traditional and original songs, witty stories and poetry by Alyn Mearns and Adrian Rice, the show will take place at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium in Blowing Rock at 7:30 p.m.
The name of Hickory-based musical duo, The Belfast Boys, is both poetically evocative and literal. Mearns(guitar and vocals) and Rice(mandolin, bodhran & vocals) spent their formative years in the capital of a bitterly divided Northern Ireland during the tumultuous times known as “The Troubles”. In tandem, they’ve shaped their experiences into music and lyrics that feel both timelessly Irish and completely contemporary.
Rice is a musician and Irish poet of distinction. With book-cover recommendations from Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney, his published poetry has found its way into the collections of London’s Tate Gallery, The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and The Lamont Library at Harvard, amongst others. Rice’s new chapbook of poems – ‘Hickory Haiku’ – was published by Finishing Line Press (Kentucky) in August 2010. Classically trained, Mearns is well known as a consummate guitarist and inspired singer-songwriter, whose work with his ex-band, Airspace, won many plaudits from those in the know. A new solo album of his music is forthcoming.
Rice and Mearns both hail from the Troubled streets of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Mearns has lived in the States since his late teens, but Rice only settled in Hickory, NC, in 2005, having come to Lenoir-Rhyne College as their Visiting Writer-in-Residence. Both men have been happily ‘captured’ by lovely American brides. The men met in a local Hickory bookstore and quickly formed a strong bond based on their shared Ulster heritage and ‘Belfast-speak’. They co-wrote a serious and heartfelt tribute song for one of Ireland’s national soccer legends, the late, great, George Best. The song, entitled ‘The Conjuror’ – composed largely in their local haunt, The Olde Hickory Tap Room – reached No. 1 in the Belfast music charts.
As their friendship grew, the two men discovered their shared love of Irish traditional music. Back in Belfast, Rice had played in an Irish band in his college and post-college years; while Mearns had written and produced a successful Irish CD, entitled ‘The Tree’. So it was only a matter of time before the idea of an Irish duo would surface: thus – The Belfast Boys. In performance, the boys work hard to deliver a serious traditional Irish set of jigs, reels, polkas and songs. They pay their own particular homage to folk classics from the likes of Planxty, The Bothy Band, and Christy Moore, mixed in with some tastefully popular pub numbers like ‘Molly Malone’ and ‘Tell Me Ma’. They even manage to breathe memorable new life into folk favorites like ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘The Wild Mountain Thyme’. The duo also incorporates some of Rice’s own poetry, and create plenty of good wholesome ‘craic’ (fun!) from the stage.
This concert is supported by the following private sponsors: The Ned Trivette Family and Wade Wilmoth; 2013 MHM Ireland Tour Group – In memory of our beloved Joe Shannon, Ned Trivette and Maura Burns; E. Frank and Tara Hancock; Lynn Hubbard; Merida H. Steele – In honor of John H. Steele; and The Estate of Joe Shannon. Business sponsors include: Bistro Roca, Blowing Rock; Mountain Times Publishing, High Country Press and the Blowing Rock School. Additional support is provided by the Watauga County Arts Council, the North Carolina Art Council, and The Anne and Alex Bernhardt Foundation – a component fund of the North Carolina Community Foundation. Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music is also proud to be included as a site on the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina (BlueRidgeMusicNC.com).
The Blowing Rock School Auditorium is located at 130 Sunset Dr. in Blowing Rock.
Tickets cost $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Student tickets are $10. Children 12 and younger are admitted free. Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.mountainhomemusic.com. and at the Mast General Store (Boone and Valle Crucis), Fred’s Mercantile on Beech Mountain, Stick Boy Bread Company(345 Hardin St, Boone), also The Blowing Rock Market and Pandora’s Mailbox on Main Street in downtown Blowing Rock.
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