Celtic Cross, A History
Our band had humble beginnings. Rene Meldrum, Mike Kowalski and John O'Gara played Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Anchorville, Michigan and also played at monthly open mic nights held in the rec center in beautiful downtown New Baltimore. Our backgrounds were folk and country influenced. We were often joined by Rev. Mel Hiler on guitar and vocals.
In November, 1990, we were performing a quality check on the Guinness being served at Green Street Tavern by then proprietor John Smith. He expressed a desire to have some musicians come in on St. Patrick’s Day, we were on board immediately.
We realized in the days that followed, that we collectively didn’t have one blessed Irish tune that we all knew! We called on trusted friend, neighbor, raconteur, bon vivant, Scotsman, and all around great dentist, Dr. Ray McCracken. (All this and an accomplished accordionist too!) Ray, being a native of Caledonia, brought a wealth of tunes to the fray.
In the days that followed, the neighborhood was treated to the non-sonorous sounds of slightly correct Celtic tunes wafting from open windows of the O’Gara domicile. All that was left to decide was a name, and somehow, “The Blarney Boys” seemed to fit.
St. Patrick’s Day at Green Street Tavern, 1991, was an unqualified success! The following year we added Susanne Wickstrom's talents on vocals, flute and whistle to the group. We were the featured band there for the next 14 years.
We stayed the Blarney Boys until 2000 when we changed our name to Celtic Cross to reflect that we certainly were not all boys, and to avoid any potential confusion between us and The Bare Naked Ladies.
So St. Patrick’s 2011 will mark our 20th anniversary as the “Best Irish Band in All of Anchorville, Michigan,” a title we covet dearly.