The Belfast Boys - Northern Ireland Meets the Appalachian Foothills - Saturday, June 24 - 8 p.m.- The Belfast Boys. Irish folk music and poetry. $10 advance/$12 door. For Americans of a certain age the mention of Northern Ireland conjures up an era of violent conflict known euphemistically as “The Troubles.” But the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, or Belfast Agreement, ushered in a new age of cooperation, and the North is now recognized internationally as a land of stunning scenery, a vibrant culture and friendly people. Northern Ireland-born Adrian Rice, an acclaimed poet and teacher, and virtuoso guitarist Alyn Mearns bill themselves as The Belfast Boys, but both now call Hickory, North Carolina home. Together, they reboot Irish traditional music with arrangements that feel both timelessly Irish and wholly contemporary. The White Horse Black Mountain favorites return to the venue on Saturday, June 24 at 8 p.m. for an evening of traditional and original songs, witty repartee and poetry. Alyn Mearns and Adrian Rice both grew up in the gritty capital of a bitterly divided Northern Ireland. The Belfast Boys had their start when Alyn Mearns (guitar, whistle and vocals) and Adrian Rice (mandolin, bodhran and vocals) recognized each others’ distinctive Belfast accents in a Hickory book shop. They also discovered a shared affection for traditional Irish tunes and songs. Rice, who was working as a writer-in-residence at Lenoir-Rhyne University, had married a Tarheel and settled in Hickory. He’s a raconteur in the grand Irish tradition, and it’s a short step from poetry to lyrics, so it wasn’t long before the two Belfast men were performing together. Mearns, a classically trained guitarist who came to North Carolina for college and stayed, creates guitar accompaniments that are orchestral in scope, intertwining with Rice’s mandolin to lend surprising twists even to familiar material. Alongside their Belfast Boys endeavors, Rice and Mearns have distinguished themselves in other projects. Adrian is the author of several published poetry collections, including The Clock Flower, The Mason’s Tongue, and his newest volume, Hickory Station. Yes the Raven, on the other hand, is Alan’s musical alter ego, a vehicle for his brilliant and distinctive original songs.