Mike Boyce The newest member of Blackthorn insists that nepotism had nothing to do with him getting the job despite the fact that he is the younger brother of Blackthorn veteran, John Boyce.
Michael Anthony Boyce was born in Delaware County, PA in 1976. He started playing the piano as a toddler. His mother recalls his daily trips to the spinet to test her patience. What started out as play-time on the biggest toy he had soon escalated to lessons at age 9. Mike clearly remembers his first public performance at the Abbey Hotel in Donegal Town, Ireland. "I took a trip to Ireland with my parents and attended the 100th anniversary party for the Donegal Society. I was asked to sing God Bless America and an old Irish favorite, Maggie," said Boyce. "I remember being extremely nervous . . . my palms began to sweat, my face turned bright red the very moment I opened my mouth, and when it was all over, I could hardly remember it."
By the time he was 15 years-old, Michael had recovered from his stage fright enough to start playing keyboards regularly with the "Shamrox." The band, led by Vince Gallagher, played a mix of traditional Irish music and songs. For the next few years the band went through some transformations and eventually became known as "Crossroads." This band included Boyce's cousin, John McGillian, and friends Jack Murtaugh and Bob Coco. The music played by "Crossroads" was very different than anything Boyce had done before. "We were four young guys that loved to play music and helped each other develop musically with each performance . . . spontaneity was the key!" Encompassing many different styles of music, "Crossroads" managed to become a very popular band, travelling as far north as Vermont and as far south as Virginia while maintaining a loyal following in the Philadelphia area. They shared the stage with bands such as "the Commitments" and "The Wolfe Tones." "It was incredible . . . I wouldn't trade those years for the world."
As ironic as it may seem, "Crossroads" went their different ways in April of 1999, however, Boyce knew the music wasn't about to stop. He continued to write "originals" and began to collaborate with some musician friends of his. One night at a benefit in Bridgeport, PA, Blackthorn invited Michael to sit in with them and play bass guitar. After his first successful performance, Boyce was asked to join the band permanently. "It is such a great opportunity for me to not only evolve as a musician, but also to perform with a bunch of guys with incredible talent... I have felt unbelievably comfortable since the first gig." So is Michael afraid of following in his brother's footsteps? Not in the least. "I've always wanted to make music with John," said Boyce. "We've always shared musical ideas since we were very young. . . not to mention a few free lessons!" Mike Boyce Feeding the Birds
Even though Michael has only been performing live with the band for a short time, he spent endless hours collaborating with "Blackthorn" in the studio during their first album. He also remembers selling T-shirts for them in the early years, and sometimes even managed to jump on stage for a song or two. Over the years Michael has expanded his musical repertoire to include guitar, tin whistle, and the fiddle, and although primarily the bass player in the band, he frequently switches to the keyboards for some songs. In the short time he has been with the band, he has endeared himself to longstanding "Blackthorn" fans with his rendition of Garth Brook's "Friends in Low Places." "Writing and performing satisfy different musical needs for me... they are two totally different kinds of adrenaline." Of course Billy Joel and Elton John have had much influence on his music and songwriting, however, some other favorites include James Taylor, Lyle Lovett, Tom Petty, Paul Brady, Ben Folds and Phish. "Musical diversity puts me in the perfect frame of mind for creating my own ideas," said Boyce.
Michael thinks "Blackthorn's" success can be attributed to several factors. ". . . Friendship, talent, serious attitudes, and goals. . . Sounds like a good recipe to me," said Boyce. "They built a foundation and began to grow at a time when their genre of music began to explode. They have been doing the right things so far, including the release of their first all-original album. The next step is a really big one, and I'm really looking forward to being a big part of it. "Opportunity knocked and I opened the door."
By: Anne Oliver