Irish folk comes by way of Hickory

Staff reports

White Horse Black Mountain favorites the Belfast Boys have graced the venue’s stage many times with their innovative take on traditional Irish music, so it’s fitting that on Jan. 16, the listening room becomes the setting for a showcase of songs destined for a new album and readings of poems from an upcoming collection, “Hickory Station.”

The show will also feature the duo’s trademark reboots of old favorites like “The Mountains of Mourne” and “Danny Boy,” along with lesser-known traditional songs, Belfast Boy originals, and lively dance tunes.

Alan Mearns (guitar, whistle, vocals) and Adrian Rice (mandolin, bodhran, vocals) both hail from the troubled streets of Belfast, Northern Ireland, but their current musical partnership began when each recognized each other’s accent in a Hickory book store.

Back in Ireland, Rice was already an acclaimed published poet who had played in Irish bands during his student days.

And Mearns was a classically trained guitarist with a CD, “The Tree,” to his credit.

The two quickly discovered their shared love of Irish traditional music, and the Belfast Boys were on their way.

Their approach doesn’t so much recreate traditional materials as redefine them, with their harmony vocals and intricate guitar/mandolin counterpoint revealing new facets in old gems.

In addition to their joint projects, Rice’s chapbooks of poems, “Hickory Haiku,” was recently published by Finishing Line Press, while a new collection, “Hickory Station,” is in the pipeline.

Meanwhile Mearns, who has released a powerful previous album of his own songs under the sobriquet Yes the Raven is working on a followup.

Inspired by Ireland

Who: The Belfast Boys

When: 8 p.m. Jan. 16

Where: White Horse Black Mountain

Cost: $12 advance, $15 door