The Belfast Boys survive ‘The Troubles’

From staff reports

Individually, the members of Hickory-based duo The Belfast Boys have impressive credentials.

Singer/mandolinist Adrian Rice is an acclaimed published poet and teacher, while guitarist and vocalist Alyn Mearns has a successful singer-songwriter career as Yes the Raven. In tandem, they’ve shaped their Northern Irish roots into music and lyrics that feel both timelessly Irish and completely contemporary.

The White Horse Black Mountain favorites return to the venue on Saturday, August 22 for an evening of traditional and original songs, witty stories and poetry.

Mearns and Rice grew up in the capital of a bitterly divided Northern Ireland during the tumultuous times known as “The Troubles.” The Belfast Boys had their start when Mearns (guitar, whistle and vocals) and Rice (mandolin, bodhran and vocals) recognized each others’ Belfast accents in a Hickory book shop.

Rice was working as a writer-in-residence at Lenoir-Rhyne University, had married a Tarheel and settled in Hickory. Not surprisingly, he’s also a raconteur in the grand Irish tradition. It’s a short step from poetry to lyrics, and it wasn’t long before the two Belfastmen were performing together.

Mearns, a classically trained guitarist who came to North Carolina for college and stayed, creates dazzlingly orchestral accompaniments that interweave with Rice’s mandolin, lending freshness even to familiar material.

Troubled no longer

Who: The Belfast Boys

When: 8 p.m. Aug. 22

Where: White Horse Black Mountain

Cost: $12 advance, $15 door