12 September 2019

Shay and Michael have embarked on a new long-awaited album and recorded it at Laughing Tiger Studios in the SF Bay Area. They enlisted the help of their good friend, John Doyle, who agreed to produce it as well as play on every track! It is in the process of being mixed and mastered and a number of musicians are featured. Band member Eamonn Flynn and John worked well on arrangements and were ably assisted by Feilim Egan (accordion), and honorary band member, Colm O'Riain. Other musicians who played on the recordings included Mike McGoldrick (whistles, pipes, and bodhran), John McCusker (fiddle), Rick Epping (harmonica), and Duncan Wickel (cello). The album is now being finished with some backing harmony vocals by various members of the extended Black Family. Watch for updates in the coming months as we plan to have the album ready by the end of the year.

2 January 2019

Michael will be a vocal instructor at the Walker Creek Music Camp, PO Box 831 Santa Rosa, Ca. from April 11-14th. For information: 415-663-6030, or info@walkercreekmusiccamp. Michael has a broad repertoire of songs, and he will teach songs from the different Irish, Scottish, English and other traditions. The songs are varied and range from strong chorus songs, shanties, mouth music songs, humorous songs, and songs that suit particular musical settings. The songs tend to be less well known, but are suitable for any performance, singing circle, session or round-the-campfire singing.

Michael borrows from the dictum of his brother, Shay, who believes, "if you can hum it you can sing it," so the class is designed with no experience needed. However, Michael will have all participants prepare for “Singing in Public,” whether that be performance-based or session-based, and will give examples on how to select and perform songs that will be received well by audiences. Topics include basic techniques used in song selections, gaining confidence, delivery, and identifying the appropriate setting for a particular song.

Michael Black hails from a musical Dublin family and he grew up in a household where singing was a normal part of daily life. He has been performing since he was a teenager and tours with his brother, Shay, and their band members, as The Black Brothers. He also performs frequently with sisters, Mary and Frances, as The Black Family. Michael has recorded a number of albums with his siblings and also has a solo album, Michael Black, which was critically acclaimed when it was released a few years ago. When not playing music with family members he does quite a lot of solo concerts, as well as teaching singing workshops. He has taught vocals at the Catskills Arts Week in New York State as well as O’Flaherty’s Music retreat and the North Texas Irish Festival.

Walker Creek Spring Music Camp in the beautiful rolling hills of West Marin County, California, opens for registration Tuesday, January 15th. Register early on the first day for the best chance of getting your preferred morning class and lodging--some classes and private/semi-private rooms often sell out the first day registration opens. For the first time, Walker Creek will have an Irish music track (for fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and vocals) to complement its bluegrass, old time, and kids' classes. Please see https://www.walkercreekmusiccamp.org or https://www.facebook.com/WalkerCreekMusicCamp for more information.

13 March 2017

For the first time in three decades The Black Family - Shay, Michael, Mary, Martin and Frances are returning for a very special reunion in Ireland. Their unique vocal sound was first heard by the nation on the Late, Late Show back in 1986 and is still remembered as something very special to this day. These rare performances from this legendary Irish family are not to be missed. The dates can be found on the gigs page.

The Black Family have also been confirmed for Joanie Madden's Folk'n'Irish Cruise which will take place in early February 2018, see www.joaniemaddencruise.com

20 November 2016

We have added six live videos to our Videos section from Shay and Michael's session at Studio 55.

8 May 2016

Shay and Michael will be teaming up again with sisters, Mary and Frances, along with the singing nieces, Aoife and Roisin O, for Joanie Madden's "Folk'n'Irish Cruise". They will also be joined by virtuoso guitarist, Bill Shanley and accordionist/keyboardist, Kathleen Boyle. More details: www.joaniemaddencruise.com

Shay and Michael are also confirmed with the band for the KMVR Celtic Festival in Grass Valley in September 30th - October 2nd. More details: kvmrcelticfestival.org

Shay has been invited to teach singing at the O'Flaherty's Irish Music Retreat in Midlothian, Texas on October 14-16th. More details: www.oflahertyretreat.org

13 January 2016

Black Brothers Concerts 2016

Celebrate being the Irish March Madness by spending enchanted evenings with the Black Brothers Band, who make every day seem like St. Patrick’s Day. Led by the charismatic charmers from Dublin, Shay and Michael Black are the singing siblings from Ireland’s foremost family of song, The Black Family, which also includes their sisters Mary and Frances and brother Martin. Shay and Michael play an exciting mix of Dublin street songs, music hall songs and historical ballads. This year being the centenary of the 1916 Rising in Dublin, they will be adding songs from this era into the mix.

Songs of the Easter Rising:
The Easter Rising, also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed insurrection in Dublin during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic. Members of the Irish Volunteers, led by schoolmaster and Irish language activist Patrick Pearse and joined by the smaller Irish Citizen Army of James Connolly, along with 200 members of Cumann na mBan (Women’s Auxiliary), seized key locations in Dublin and proclaimed an Irish Republic. The British Army quickly suppressed the Rising, and most of the leaders were executed following courts-martial, but the Rising succeeded in bringing Republicanism back to the forefront of Irish politics. Two years later Republicans won 73 Irish seats out of 105 in the 1918 General Election to the British Parliament, on a policy of abstentionism and Irish independence. On 21 January 1919 they convened the First Dáil and declared the independence of the Irish Republic.

There are numerous songs from this era commemorating the Rebellion and memorializing the people who took part in it. Songs like "James Connolly" (from the first Black Family album), sad personal stories from the Rebellion like the song "Grace", humorous ditties like "Join the British Army", have been in the family for years. Shay and Michael have a particular fondness for these songs, and haven't sung many of them since their childhood. Singing in close harmony, the brothers draw people in with their energy, wit and superb musicianship. They have a special fondness for chorus songs and love to hear their audience sing.

Singing in close harmony, Michael and Shay draw people in with their energy, wit and superb musicianship. They have a special fondness for chorus songs and love to hear their audience sing. Shay has been teaching song repertoire at The Freight on Monday nights for the past six years.

Shay and Michael grew up in Dublin and both moved to England in the 1970s, eventually settling in San Francisco for Michael and Shay in Berkeley. They’ve recorded one album with their brother Martin as The Black Brothers and three with sisters Mary and Frances as The Black Family. Michael has one self-titled solo album which was produced by guitar virtuoso and fellow Dubliner John Doyle. The Irish Echo, in its review, praised Michael as “a gifted, accomplished, sensitive ballad singer with a discerning taste in songs.” Shay has recorded and toured with the illustrious Stan Hugill, shanty group Stormalong John, Irish band Garva, The California Revels, Shira Kammen, and many other local artists. Last year he released the album Singer’s Request with Celia Ramsay.

The Black Brothers Band also features fiery fiddle virtuoso San Francisco based fiddler Bobbi Nikles, who is an acclaimed force in the Bay Area music scene. With projects ranging from creating the successful music camp Fiddlekids to performing in a wide array of bands and styles, her presence abounds. Her luscious fiddling and driving rhythm add fuel to every performance, and she has also played with Wake the Dead, Melanie O'Reilly’s Aishling and many more. Bobbi has been a contributor to Strings magazine with articles on bowing technique and instrument evaluation. A sought after teacher at camps, workshops and in her private studio, Bobbi's creative and nurturing style naturally incorporates her depth of knowledge and her experience as a teacher for over 30 years.

Also from Dublin is piano player Eamonn Flynn, who was the keyboardist on the 12 million selling movie soundtrack The Commitments. Now living in San Francisco, he has gone on to record and tour worldwide with such luminaries as Michael Franti and Spearhead, Evelyn 'Champagne' King, Elvin Bishop, Pee Wee Ellis, Donald Harrison, Bernard Purdie, Grant Green Jr., Coco Montoya, Michelle Shocked, Maria Muldaur, Tony Lindsay (Santana), and a 10 year stint with legendary New Orleans drummer Zigaboo Modeliste. His driving piano style adds excitement to the Black Brothers jigs and reels.

Rounding out the sound is cellist Myra Joy, who has been with the band for over thirteen years. She began playing cello as a child and holds a degree from San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In 2007, she released an album of original compositions. She is a founding member of Elameno Quintet and Sweet Moments of Confusion. Myra has also collaborated with many musicians and ensembles including Kitka, Hans York, Melanie O'Reilly, Druid Sister's Tree Party, the pickPocket Ensemble, and Hamed Nikpay.

With many Irish musical options in the month of March, don’t miss The Black Brothers Band as they embark on another annual tour of Northern California. Their joy in performing, their love of a good story, and their charm and wit make an evening spent in their company one to savor.

Full list of tour dates can be found on the Gigs page

27 November 2014
Shay has released an album together with Celia Ramsay called "Singer's Request", which can be ordered from CD Baby. The album proudly includes instrumental support from John Doyle, Liz Carroll, Michael Black, Patrice Haan, Charlie Hancock, Eamonn Flynn, David Morris, David Brewer and Rebecca Lomnicky and vocal harmonies on some songs from Shay's family: niece Róisín, sisters Mary and Frances, and brothers Michael and Martin.

Shay Black is the eldest brother of Ireland's well-loved Black Family. Shay is revered in the San Francisco Bay Area as a song-catcher and teaches classes in song repertory when he and his brother, Michael, aren't following their busy performance schedule as The Black Brothers. He has appeared on numerous recordings, including In Harmony’s Way, and hosts the Sunday night Irish seísun at the Starry Plow in Berkeley. Celia and Shay have been singing together at music camps and song circles for many years.

On January 15, 2015 at 8:00pm, Celia and Shay will perform music from their new duo album, Singer's Request at the Freight & Salvage coffeehouse in Berkeley. The will be joined on stage by Charlie Hancock, Patrice Haan, and Shay's brother, Michael Black. Tickets are for sale now.
4 February 2014
We will be live streaming our upcoming concert at Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, which starts at 11:00pm EDT on March 15. Wherever you are in the world, you can tune in! You can purchase online tickets on a pay-what-you-want basis starting now at http://www.concertwindow.com/shows/3936-michael-and-shay-black. The webshow will not be recorded – it's offered in real time. I hope you can join us!
11 February 2014
Shay and Michael will again be featured at the Yosemite Bug Mountain Resort just outside Yosemite where they will join with other Irish musicians for a weekend of fun-filled sessions, concerts and a ceili. Shay will be calling dances on Saturday February, 22nd and he and Michael will also be performing that evening.

The Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort
6979 Highway 140
P.O. Box 81 Midpines, CA 95345
Toll Free: 866.826.7108
Telephone: 209.966.6666
E-Mail: bughost@yosemitebug.com
25 July 2013
The Black Family (Shay, Michael, Mary, Martin, and Frances) are receiving an award from iBAM. iBAM is a gathering of the best Irish authors, artists and musicians from around the world, under one roof, for a weekend Irish cultural celebration. The iBAM! 2013 awardees, include actor Brendan Gleeson (Performing Arts), author Tim Pat Coogan (Literature), the Black Family (Music), artist Robert Ballagh (Visual Arts). The Awards Dinner will be held on Sat. October, 12th at the Erin Ballroom of the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox in Chicago. The Black Family will be giving a concert the following night.
10 April 2013
The Black Brothers will be joined by the Sacred Heart String Ensemble at the concert at the Collins Theater on 19 April. They will also be accompanied by dancer Ciara Duggan and Michael's daughter, Ciara Black will also sing a song or two.
Black Brothers with the Sacret Heart String EnsembleCiara DugganCiara Black
30 March 2013
Michael will be hosting a Singing Workshop, the Irish & British Isles Song & Performance (6 weeks): April 3 - May 22, 2013 on Wednesdays from 8:00 - 9:30 pm. Roots Music Marin | 1455 East Francisco Boulevard, Suite A, San Rafael, CA 94901 | 415- 938-PLAY (7529)
This is a singing group for people of all musical experience levels! If you've never sung before, this workshop will free your voice! If you sing regularly, this workshop is a repertoire builder and a place to get together for holiday cheer sans commercialism. Learn and perform heartbreaking ballads, convivial drinking songs, songs that will make you and us laugh, and ... your favorite song that you've always wanted to sing ... with the wonderful support and guidance of Michael Black, a famed tradition and song keeper, and member of Ireland's well-known musical Black family. In honor of the holidays, hot drinks will be served during the workshop, and the workshop's final "class" will be a celebration and performance at a cozy pub !
8 October 2012
Watch a documentary about The Black Family at TG4's website
3 February 2012
The new Freight and Salvage singing class "Expand your Folk Song Repertoire" starts next Monday January 9, 2012 at their downtown venue in Berkeley, CA, and goes for six weeks. There is a week break when Shay goes on the Folk 'N Irish cruise with The Black Family.

Shay will teach four to six songs per class, with a later focus on singing alone, performing in front of people, singing in a session, and other subjects that students feel are important. If you like you may bring a recording device to help memorize melody. However, both lyrics and music will be posted weekly on The Freight website, so you can access the music throughout the course. Shay will provide the lyrics......lots of them!

The songs are mainly from Ireland and the Irish diaspora. Other songs come from the Scottish, English and sea music traditions. Everyone will be learning songs on a line-by-line basis, and then the class members sing the song together. There is no pressure in this class, just the joy of singing with others, and learning lots of songs.

Shay will call on his extensive knowledge of the Irish, English, Scottish, and other folk traditions to pull new songs up and his teaching style is through learning by repetition, so no background knowledge of music theory is necessary. "If you can hum it, you can sing it."

Website: www.freightandsalvage.org/folk-song-repertoire-shay-black

Please pass this information on to friends/family. And if they can't make it on Monday, drop Shay a line at Shay_Black@Hotmail.com and he will let people know when the next class starts.
3 February 2012
Several gigs have been added to the Black Brothers 2012 schedule, both as the Black Brothers, some solo gigs and with the Black Family.
25 March 2011
We have updated the galleries section of this site and added several beautiful photographs taken at the Fox Theater on 15 March 2011.
6 January 2011
Michael and Shay will be performing with their daughters at the Irish Fest weekend to be held at the Yosemite Bug Mountain Resort from Friday, February 25th until Sunday, February 27th, with a concert on Saturday, February 26th, 2011. This is a wonderful family-friendly event close to the entrance of Yosemite where the brothers will also be joined by another fine Irish band, The Gasmen. For details see gigs.
10 September 2010
Shay is having his birthday bash at The Freight on 18 September.
8 September 2010
Join Michael, Shay, Mary and more members of the Black Family on the Irish Festival Cruise from 30 January till 6 February 2011. We will sail roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale aboard the Poesia and are calling on the lush tropics of Key West, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. For more details visit www.irishtours.com
5 September 2010
Read the review of "Rathlin's Black History", a radio program by BBC Radio Ulster about the history of the Black Family on Rathlin Island (online feed available until 5 September).
17 September 2009
Michael Black and Jon Sanders on Tour Michael will be teaming up with the virtuoso musician, Jon Sanders in November for a tour of California.  Jon is a remarkable musician who is plays guitar/bouzouki/ukulele and has performed with many of Ireland’s best musicians as well as a host of international musicians
15 October 2008
Shay performed the song There's No One as Irish as Barack O’Bama
Song written by Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys.
Permission to add additional verses given to Shay Black and others by the Corrigan Brothers (Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys). Click here for lyrics. Click here for a statement from Shay and Ger Corrigan
27 February 2008
Michael Black will tour New Zealand together with guitarist Jon Sanders in April. Michael will also tour solo through Oklahoma in the second half of April
25 February 2008
The Black Brothers have planned their March tour in the USA again.
5 June 2007
Michael Black will be releasing his first self-titled solo album on 17 July on Compass Reocrds. See the details of this new album on the album page. Here will also be playing at several festivals this year. The currently confirmed that can be found on the gigs page. More dates will be added later.
22 February 2007
The Black Brothers have planned their March tour in the USA.
4 September 2006
Michael has just finished recording his first solo album. The album is being produced by John Doyle. There is a wide variety of songs from shantys, to a song in Irish, anti-war songs and a number of chorus songs. Musicians on the album include John Doyle, Liz Carroll, Liz Knowles, Seamus Egan, John Williams, Chico Huff, Dirk Powell, and backing vocals include John Doyle, Mary, Frances, Martin, Shay, Eoghan Scott, Danny and Roisin O'Reilly. He hope's to have the album completed in the next month or two.
22 January 2006
Check out the gigs page for the dates of the Black Brothers March tour in the US. Also three solo gigs of Michael have been announced on the gigs page.
24 August 2005
The Black Family (without Mary) will be playing at the Royal Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool, England on October 23rd 2005. Tickets are 17.50 and 12.50 (GBP) and have just gone on sale. Bookings can be made at the Box Office on (+44)151 709 3789 or online at http://www.liverpoolphil.com
24 August 2005
The Black Brothers website has been completely redesigned. Note that not for all albums soundclips are available yet. They will be added at a later time. 8 August 2004The new Black Family album Our Time Together has been released. Find out all details, including soundclips of every track in the Discography.