The Belfast Boys to Perform at The White Horse

BLACK MOUNTAIN — In the years immediately after WWII a group of largely self-taught artists, dubbed the Belfast Boys, burst onto the Irish art scene with their avant-garde take on Irish art.

Although their Hickory-based namesake, the musical duo Belfast Boys, work in a different medium they share a penchant for expanding tradition. Singer/mandolinist Adrian Rice is an acclaimed published poet and teacher, while virtuoso guitarist and vocalist Alyn Mearns has a successful singer-songwriter career as Yes the Raven, but in their collaborative work, they reinvent Irish folk standards. Their music, informed by growing up in Ulster during troubled times, feels both timelessly Irish and completely contemporary. The White Horse Black Mountain favorites return to the venue on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. for an evening of traditional and original songs, witty repartee and poetry.

Alyn Mearns and Adrian Rice both grew up in the gritty capital of a bitterly divided Northern Ireland. The Belfast Boys had their start when Alyn Mearns (guitar, whistle and vocals) and Adrian Rice(mandolin, bodhran and vocals) recognized each others’ distinctive 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 guitar accompaniments that are orchestral in scope, intertwining with Rice’s mandolin to lend surprising twists even to familiar material.

The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10-$12.

Tickets available online at

About Shelby Harrell
Shelby Harrell is the editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment publication and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for seven years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.