Blackthorn returns to March music series

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published March 4, 2015

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Blackthorn shows are very interactive it’s not five guys playing at you for two hours.

Richard McMullan, Blackthorn vocalist

STERLING HEIGHTS — Local fans of Irish music are in luck as Sterling Heights gets ready to host the music group Blackthorn this month.

The Irish group will perform two concerts worth of Celtic classics and tunes at the Recreation Center at Dodge Park in Sterling Heights March 8.

The Sterling Coffeehouse series is the first major music event of the year for the Sterling Heights Parks and Recreation Department. The next major undertaking is the Music in the Park series, which starts in June, according to Recreation Manager Kyle Langlois.

Langlois said Blackthorn has been very popular in prior years, to the point of selling out shows.

He said recreation comes in many different forms, and it’s his department’s job to offer a diverse catalog of recreation programs.

“A lot of times, (people) think Parks and Recreation, and they think sports,” Langlois said. “Our goal is to provide a number of recreational outlets for people. … It’s an opportunity to get to enjoy some local music and spend some time with friends.”

According to Blackthorn’s website, the band’s members are Dennis Green, Fred Klein, David Mosher, Gary McMullen and Richard McMullan. The group performs both traditional and contemporary Celtic music using instruments like the banjo, the accordion and the wooden flute.

Recreation Supervisor Troy Nowotny said the timing of the event with St. Patrick’s Day is intentional, and he enjoyed hearing the band for the first time last year.

“They’ve been doing it for a long time,” Nowotny said. “They go on tour in Ireland. They’ve had a following for a long time. They use a varying amount of instruments. They use actual instruments that would be used in Irish folk music, and they just have a wonderful sound.”

Richard McMullan, vocalist and the last remaining original Blackthorn member, described Sterling Heights as one of his top three favorite places to play because the response is great and the audience gets involved.

“Blackthorn shows are very interactive,” he said. “It’s not five guys playing at you for two hours. Our longevity is due to the fact that we’ve incorporated the audience in our show.”

McMullan said audience members might not know many of the songs his group plays, but he said most of the music is solid, authentic Irish music. He said the group’s following spans people from ages 5 to 95.

“Very few other kinds of music do this,” he said. “These kids are playing the CDs. They’re playing Lady Gaga, and the next minute, they’re playing some Blackthorn.”

The Sterling Coffeehouse series will present two concerts by the Irish music group Blackthorn at 3:30 p.m. and at 6:30 p.m. March 8 at the Recreation Center at Dodge Park, 40620 Utica Road in Sterling Heights.

Advance tickets, if still available, are $14 for residents and $18 for nonresidents. Door tickets, if still available, will be $15 for residents and $20 for nonresidents. Both Sterling Heights and Warren residents may qualify for resident rates.

Learn more by visiting www.myshpr.net or by calling (586) 446-2700. Blackthorn’s website is www.blackthorn1.com.

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