FolkWord #73 - The Black Brothers - Glackanacker

By Walking Tom

Brothers Shay and Michael Black belong to the renowned musical clan that also comprises their siblings Mary and Frances. They inherited their musical talents from their multi-instrumentalist father Kevin who originally came from Rathlin Island off Northern Ireland's coast but ended up in Dublin in the 1940s. The Black Brothers, Shay and Michael, got inspired by the luminaries on Dublin's abundant folk circuit, The Dubliners, The Johnsons, Moore & Irvine, to name just a few. They also incorporated Scottish songs to broaden their repertoire. Things became serious in 1978, their first paid gig in London, followed by three months busking in the US. The rest is history, as they say, Shay and Michael performing regularly ever since - besides 9/5 jobs and raising families in their adopted homes in the San Francisco Bay area. They accompany themselves on guitar and banjo, supported by a who's who of Irish and Scottish music (John Doyle, Mike McGoldrick, John McCusker, Mick McCauley, Rick Epping) who insert their lifeblood and energy. The Black Brothers' singing is captivating, enhanced by varied input from the entire family - Mary, Frances, Martin, Roisin O, Aoife Scott, etc. Their song spectrum is broadly based indeed, including traditional Irish ballads ("Fiach An Mhadra Rua"), broadside and music hall ditties ("Muirsheen Durkin"), sea shanties ("Essequibo River") and contemporary folk songs ("Green Among The Gold"). There are stories that bring tears to the eye, and those that make you grin. What a delight!