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30th Anniversary

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30th Anniversary

  • This is the Blackthorn original 3 taken in the WJR studios in March 1986. This was our very first appearance on WJR. Little did we know it would become a Detroit tradition. From left to right: Bob Phillips (guitar, vocals), Richard McMullan (guitar, banjo, mandolin, vocals) and Dan Taggart (bass, guitar, vocals).
  • This shot was taken sometime in 1987. Bob had departed and Gary and Fred are now in the band. We're not sure who took the photo, or why, but it was taken upstairs next to the stage at the Old Shillelagh.
  • Another photo from the mid to late 1980's, singing on the Old Shillelagh stage with Dan Taggart.
  • This is the band's first publicity photo with Gary, Fred, Dan and Richard probably taken in 1988. This is during the Old Shillelagh days.
  • Here's a second photo taken in 1988. It was during this time that Blackthorn played on St. Patrick's Day on the J. P. McCarthy Show WJR, a job we enjoyed for nearly 20 years.
  • The photographer catches us goofing around during our 1988 photography session. Boys will be boys!
  • Barry Schigelone replaced bass player Dan Taggart sometime around 1990. This is the publicity photo we used when "The Shig" joined the band. This is also the time period when we moved our home base from the Old Shillelagh to Cowley's Old Village inn in downtown Farmington.
  • Dennis Green joined the band in 1993, replacing Barry on bass guitar. We were just hitting our stride at Cowley's and never dreamed that we would play there for 12 years. Thank you to John, Marie, Patrick, Mike, Greg and Maureen for a great run.
  • Here we are in 1993 outside the Schoolhouse Recording Studio in Dexter, Michigan. We were taking a break during an intense weekend recording session for our No Anchors CD. Pictured with us is engineer Jonas Berzanskis.
  • Here we are before show time, in front of Cowley's. We're taking a quiet moment for ourselves before facing the mayhem inside. Cowley's was great fun, but not for the faint of heart.
  • This was taken at a Southfield concert venue. We don't know exactly which one, or what year it was, but we're sure it was in the early to mid-1990's because our hair still has color.
  • This photo was taken in 1997 in the rectory dining room at Shrine parish, Royal Oak. We needed a photo for the cover of our Nil Na La CD and hoped the priestly surroundings would provide the divine intervention needed to get us our first gold record. It failed miserably. This is not the photo we ended up using on the CD.
  • We met dozens of business leaders, celebrities, wannabes, and politicians over many years at the J. P. McCarthy/Paul W. Smith shows. We chose this shot with Cardinal Adam Maida at the Fox Theater over all the others because he is one of the very few without controversy. Sorry Coleman, Kwame and Ficano!
  • March 2015 will be our 24th consecutive year to play the Sterling Heights Acoustic Coffeehouse concert series. The only concert we have missed was their very first one way back in 1991. We appreciate the fact that every year the room is sold out and absolutely packed full. The audiences we see here are simply the best...always attentive, lively and looking for a good time. Great singers too! A special thanks goes out to our good friend Joel Casey for inviting us year after year to be a part of this great community concert series.
  • This photo was taken around 2002 for use on our First Light CD. This is approximately the time we made our move from Cowley's to our current home at O'Mara's Restaurant in Berkley, Michigan. Thanks Kevin O'Mara and crew for the great hospitality all these years.
  • High on our "favorite memories list" is playing with members of the Michigan Opera Theater in 2002. This is a picture of the men behind the voices on The Parting Glass, the final track on our First Light CD. Thank you Jim Patterson for loaning us your colleagues, and your voice!
  • In 2006 we were honored to perform at the Milwaukee Irish Fest--the largest Irish festival in the world. We were very nervous because we were sharing stages with musicians who have been our inspiration for decades. To our surprise, we held our own and were invited back in 2007 and 2011.
  • There is no better place to see Blackthorn than The Farmington Players Barn Theater. This intimate venue has great acoustics and we love playing there. Thank you Nancy Coumoundouros for your hard work promoting Blackthorn and many other music acts over two decades. This photo is from 2007.
  • This is a photo from the 2007 Milwaukee Irish Fest with the Bridies. Dennis was not himself that night and we think we know why. What happens in Milwaukee stays in Milwaukee! Dennis, your secret is safe with us.
  • In 2007 maestro Craig Strain asked us to join the Motor City Brass Band for two Irish concerts, British brass band style. We revived the show in 2014 at the Ford Performing Arts Center as seen in the photo. Craig also arranged two tracks on our 2011 Here's To You CD. Thanks Craig and MCBB for a great partnership!
  • Another favorite venue for Blackthorn is the Michigan Irish Music Festival, held annually in Muskegon. Here we are on the main stage, with Wallace Hood, formerly with Pat's People and The Irish Rovers. Wallace played with us in 2010 and 2011. Thanks Tom Schaub for many years at your fabulous festival.
  • This photo was taken in 2010 at our annual March show at the Brookshire Inn in Williamston. This is proof that we do have friends in high places. Pictured with us is then Michigan Governor and Blackthorn fan, The Honorable Jennifer Granholm, and musician extraordinaire Wallace Hood.
  • In 2010 we were surprised to learn that we had been voted Best Folk Artist by the readers of the Detroit Metro Times. We had no knowledge of this until we received a phone call that we had won. Also, in 2010 and 2011 we were voted Michigan's Favorite Celtic Band by users of the website. Again, another surprise. We were honored by this recognition and appreciate all the public support that we receive....thank you all very much! However, there are other great bands out there equally deserving and we salute them all for keeping Irish music alive and well in Detroit and all around Michigan.
  • In the fall of 2006 we began work on our Another Round CD. We used the lovely Baile Corcaigh restaurant in Corktown, one of our very favorite venues, as the backdrop for the photo. Thank you Sharon Malinowski for being a wonderful friend and employing us from 2007 to 2009.
  • In August 2011 we took our first fan trip to Ireland. We had no idea what to expect and were stunned at the demand. Within a few months we sold out. The same thing happened the following three years. To all who joined us, we thank you for the great fun. Here we are up in beautiful Connemara.
  • We began recording our Here's To You CD on a crisp Autumn weekend in 2010. We needed a photo for the CD and had a photographer stop by. Here's a nice shot that we never used.
  • In October of 2012 we invited David Mosher to join in the fun. Multi-talented, he has added some nice fiddle, mandolin and voice parts to our arrangements. This is a shot of him at our 2013 Ark Show.
  • This is us today in a previously unreleased shot from our 2013 photo shoot--thirty years and still going. We're hoping to tack on another decade to our resume and that's where YOU come in. If you keep coming to our shows, we'll keep playing. We promise!
  • This is our absolute favorite picture of the band. The resemblances are remarkable. Thank you Anna Garcia for making us look so good.

It's October 1984, the Tigers are in the World Series and, unexpectedly, John Brady, owner of the Old Shillelagh in Greektown, is without a band. Richard McMullan gets a phone call, and with Bob Phillips (guitar) and Dan Taggart (bass) a new band is formed. The trio is eventually dubbed Blackthorn by Brady's daughter and the seed of our sound is sown. Soon we were ready to record our first CD and Fred Klein is called in on a recommendation from the recording engineer because we needed a string section for Dublin in the Rare Auld Times. It was a chance meeting, and suddenly a CD-and a quartet-is born.

Shortly thereafter, Bob leaves and Gary McMullen joins in yet another chance meeting. Gary had never heard us play and we hadn't heard him either. It was pure serendipity-a perfect fit. A few years later Dan leaves and Barry Schigelone steps in. More years pass and in 1993 Dennis Green becomes our new bass man. For the next 17 years it was the four of us-Denny, Fred, Gary and Richard-against the world.

In 2010 we became a quintet with the addition of Wallace Hood. We really enjoyed having him, but he retired to Northern Ireland two years later. David Mosher followed soon after, bringing fiddle, mandolin and an additional voice to our sound. He remains with us to this day and is hoping that there is 30 more years of music in us because he has some serious catching up to do.

But that's only half our story. The other half is you, our audience. We'd have been out of business long ago if you hadn't kept coming to our shows. The simple fact that you show up, listen, sing along, and ask for your favorite song gives us purpose and keeps us going. Collectively you are a delightful mix of humanity representing all age groups and all walks of life. We're very proud that our music appeals to such a broad and diverse audience. Thank you for being so good to us.

There is also another very important group we would like to acknowledge on our 30th anniversary. To all you concert promoters, pub owners, festival organizers, media personalities and musicians we have met along the way, please accept our sincere thanks for all your encouragement and for putting us on your stages. We can't mention you all individually here but you know who you are. You gave us a chance to show what we can do and we appreciate that. We hope that we have never let you down.

Enjoy the few photos we were able to find of us over the years. If any of you have any old photos of us, please send them along... we'd love to see them.

Take a Journey Through Time and Emotion

Celtic Knot