The night before St. Patrick's Day in 2009 at Nancy Whiskey Pub just west of downtown Detroit, a group of five musicians started a band. They named it Black Irish. According to the bands' guitarists, Eliot Moses and Shane Sanders, they were at Nancy Whiskey listening to a traditional Irish band and drinking beer. You could place the sound of Black Irish into a number of genres, but Celtic folk isn't one of them. Black Irish is a five-piece rock, rhythm and blues band with a tight rhythm section, original guitar riffs and fantastic organ playing.
"We're just a Detroit band," says Moses. "We're young and hungry and ready to bring it to the stage."
And bring it to the stage they shall. After one and a half years of hard work and small bar gigs, Black Irish was offered the opportunity to play 11/27 at The Fillmore, one of Detroit's larger music venues. They'll be opening for The Rockets, a band formed in the '70s by a couple former members of Mitch Ryder's Detroit Wheels.
"Jimmy McCarty [of The Rockets] is a personal hero of mine and Shane's," says Moses. Moses and Sanders encourage people to come out and enjoy a night filled with great musicianship and a great stage show. Guests are invited to an after party around the corner from The Fillmore at Park Bar for a set by JC Westwood. Anyone with ticket stubs from the Black Irish show will get in for free.
Moses, a UAW member who works on the line for Ford, says Detroiters will be able to appreciate Black Irish because of their musical themes. "Our songs are about hard times and getting past the hard times," he says. "It's R&B and rock 'n' roll. Everything Detroit has, we represent. It's honest music."
Moses and Sanders discuss their impressions of the Detroit music scene while drinking coffee at Lafeyette Coney Island. "[Music]'s so bountiful here that people take it for granted," Moses says. "But everything is still in little pockets. The indie scene, the nu-metal scene, the rock scene â€“ it works for what it does. But if the music scene could come together, we'd all have a much stronger voice."
Sanders says sometimes being a musician costs more than it pays. "Last night I showed up for an acoustic gig two hours early and my bar tab ended up costing more than I made," he says.
Aside from the hard times and the occasional let downs, Moses and Sanders retain a positive outlook. "Detroit's always gone lowest of the low," Moses says. "Once we get our ducks in a row, Detroit will make a comeback."