In early February, I celebrated my 50th birthday. Usually when people turn 50, retirement becomes visible on the horizon, and the anticipation of grandchildren becomes tangible. So imagine my surprise, when a couple weeks before my birthday, I found myself in a band.
Bands are something you typically do in a garage in your teenage years or your early 20’s. I never did that in my youth, so band practice on a cold Sunday afternoon in January, in preparation for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the Art of Coffee on March 14, was something totally new to me.
The idea was originally formulated a few years ago. A couple guys sitting around a table sharing a few beers thought it might be cool to do a mini St. Patrick’s Day gig. I imagine, at least for a couple of us, middle-age creep finally pushed us to find a slot in our busy schedules to take action, and Blackthorn Shillelagh was formed.
The band is comprised of Malcolm Lewis (Northern Neck native, teacher & AD at W&L) on guitar, Dave Smith (Northern Neck native & I.T. specialist for Westmoreland County Schools) on guitar and mandolin, Carolyn Reiner (“come here” & chemistry teacher in Richmond County) on fiddle, Bobby Walters (Northern Neck native & designer of information transport systems for the Navy) on guitar, Daniel Clarke (Northern Neck native & HVAC installer) on stand-up bass, and yours truly (“been here” & auto repair shop owner) on shruti box and Irish bouzouki.