Eclectic Celtic concert has toes tapping at Studio 64

Blackthorn, live at Studio 64 in Kimberley, March 4

Vancouver’s Blackthorn played Studio 64 in Kimberley

Vancouver’s Blackthorn played Studio 64 in Kimberley

Mike Redfern

Vancouver’s Celtic folk band, Blackthorn, brought their eclectic Celtic style of folk music to Studio 64 on Friday night, entertaining the sold out crowd with strathspeys, jigs, reels, waltzes, polkas and romantic airs and ballads that were drawn from cultures far and wide. French and English Canadian, Scottish, Irish, American and Hungarian tunes were among the repertoire performed at this Kimberley concert, all played with an instrumental refinement and sweet vocal harmony that did nothing to repress the innate vitality of the music or the energy of the performance.

Blackthorn has been around since 1989; none of them are kids any more. The maturity of the band was evident in the easy way in which the instruments and voices fused together to create a complex but unified sound. This was a comfortable performance, relaxed, confident, and sprinkled with humour, that slowly drew in the audience until many were clapping or toe-tapping along, finally joining in singing the choruses of ‘The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond’ to bring the night to an end.

While all four musicians, Rosie Carver on fiddle, Michelle Carlisle on flutes, piccolo, fife, & whistle, Michael Viens on guitars, harmonica & bodhran, and Tim Renaud on bass, mandolin & bodhran, were all excellent, it was Carlisle who, perhaps, stole the show, soloing on one or another of her instruments and vocally on many of the numbers with great sweetness and virtuosity. She and Viens kept the chatter and jokes going between numbers, occasionally abetted by Renaud. They seemed to be enjoying themselves and their smiles were reciprocated on the faces of the audience.

This was the opening concert in Kimberley Arts Council’s Live at Studio 64 spring series which will see Alberta roots & rock singer-songwriter Joe Nolan at Studio 64 on April 16 and the Alberta blues/rock band Red Cannons on stage on May 28. Both have been making notable inroads into the recording market recently. Advance tickets for these shows are $22 for arts council members, $24 non-members, available online from or from Centre 64 (250-427-4919). Admission at the door is $26 if the show is not sold out.