Blackthorn marks 30 years at Burns show

2019 marks the 30th year for Celtic group

Michael Viens never really knows quite what to expect when he and his Celtic music band play gigs on — or leading up to — Robbie Burns Day in January.

The Coquitlam native, who performs with his fiddler wife Rosie Carver in Blackthorn, typically has about half a dozen private and public dates around Metro Vancouver to celebrate the Scottish Bard, who was born Jan. 25, 1759.

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And though the program and music list are always set going into an event, there are often things that pop up that can surprise the seasoned musicians.

Take last year’s Robbie Burns dinner at Place des Arts: That’s when 11 guests who identified themselves as descendants of Burns introduced themselves to the band. “It certainly made it a special night,” said the Vancouver resident.

On Jan. 19, Blackthorn returns to the Maillardville venue for its 7th annual party that will include a small-plate buffet meal and a post-show meet and greet with the musicians, piper Matt Dolan and emcee Edward Mornin.

Like last year Mornin, a native of Greenock, Scotland, will talk about Burns’ life and work and recite the Address to the Haggis. The show will conclude at around 9:30 p.m. with a sing-along of Burns’ poem, Auld Lang Syne.

Still, while Blackthorn may be carrying out its traditional fare this month, its schedule for 2019 will be filled with reflection as it marks its 30th year (Viens has been with the ensemble since 1995 while Carver is an original member). The group plans to be in the studio to release new recording of Celtic tunes — including some songs by Burns.

• For tickets to the Robbie Burns Night at $41 (or $21/$16 for the show only), call Place des Arts at 604-664-1636 or visit The meal is at 5:30 p.m. with the concert at 7 p.m.

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