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Middletown, New Jersey, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1996 | SELF | AFM

Middletown, New Jersey, United States | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 1996
Band Folk Celtic




"Get Jiggy With It"

"Energetic stage presence, wicked fiddle skills and lilting vocals!"
- Kelly-Anne Suarez, The Morning Call

"Trad with a Twist!"

"Purely Original...Unmistakably Celtic...Trad with a Twist!" - Tom Pearson - World Jam Radio

"Review of "Blackwater Live at 10""

"A great blend of vocals and instrumentals. Something on this one for every lover of Irish Music."

"Saw the band perform live at the Celtic Classic Festival and I am very glad to bring this band back to our listeners here in the Chicago area. I expect that we'll be seeing more of this group in the very near future." - Shay Clark 90.9 FM WDCB


Full Albums
"Blackwater" (Self-Titled Debut Album)
1999 Bummertent Records
2002 Bummertent Records
"Live at 10 from Godfrey Daniels"
2007 Independent Release

All three albums are available at CD Baby

Singles and Compilations
1998 - Lehigh Valley Christmas - "The Boars Head Carol"
1999 - Lehigh Valley Christmas - Glocestershire Wassail"
2000 - Lehigh Valley Christmas - "Here Comes Santa Claus"
2000 - Friends of JOe Foley - "Littlebridge Inches"
2001 - Lehigh Valley Christmas - "Fum, Fum, Fum"
2002 - Celtic Classic, A Compilation - "John O'Dreams"
2002 - Lehigh Valley Christmas - "Christmas in the Trenches"
2003 - WDIY Studio Sessions - Volume 2 "Colligan Spring"
2003 - Lehigh Valley Christmas- "I Saw Three Ships"
2004 - Lehigh Valley Christmas - "O Come Little Children"
2005 - Lehigh Valley Christmas - "Fairytale of New York" with Zen for Primates



"Purely Original...Unmistakably Celtic...Trad with a Twist!"

Blackwater is a six piece Celtic band from the Pennsylvania / New Jersey area. Formed in 1996, the band has released multiple albums and compilations, performed everywhere from street corners to festival stages and brought their inspired love of their shared musical heritage to an ever growing fan base. The band's members have a rich tradition in Celtic, Folk, Classical and Contemporary Music and have successfully merged those individual influences into a unique and dynamic sound.

Striking vocal harmonies, intricate fiddle styles, multi-instrumental talent and a penchant for compelling rhythms lend the group its unmistakably take on the traditional. Original compositions, innovative arrangements and an all embracing passion for fun, freshen the mix for a show that has been described as "sheer ceili aerobics!"

Sean Hennessy, a self-taught musician, is the lead singer and co-founder of the band. Raised in equal parts in a first generation Irish household in New Jersey and the sunny south-east of County Waterford, music and storytelling have been a part of his life from the beginning. Greatly influenced by this rich family tradition, as well as the performances of Christy Moore, Andy M. Stewart, and Paddy Reilly, Sean has been performing for the better part of 35 years on his own and with groups throughout the Northeastern US and Ireland.

Alison Gillespie is a native of Essex, England, but spent her childhood growing up on a farm in Central New Jersey. She studied classical violin in her teens, but also found enjoyment hearing authentic bluegrass music being played in an old music hall near her home. While away at Ohio University, Alison's interest in folk music led her to attend an inspiring performance by legendary Irish fiddler Kevin Burke. Not long after, Alison began performing Irish dance tunes on the fiddle with a five-piece band, and has been performing regularly ever since.

Chris Finnegan is an Uilleann Piper, Bassist, and Whistle player from New Jersey. He studied at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, receiving a B.M. and M.M. in Classical Double Bass Performance. He studied the Uilleann Pipes primarily with noted teacher Bill Ochs. Chris is an avid performer who can be heard on many recordings, including recently as Uilleann Pipe Soloist with the Tim Keyes Consort’s performance of Patrick Cassidy’s “Famine Remembrance”

Al Keller, the other founding member of the band, was raised in rural Lehigh County, Pa. While playing bluegrass music on guitar and upright bass fiddle, he became interested in the origin of the instrumental fiddle tunes. Listening to WXPN Radio in 1983 he heard a recording by the Boys of the Lough, a Scots/Irish band, and his direction in Celtic music was established for good.

Fionna Hennessy studied at Moravian College's Music Department where she was a voice major. Growing up with her brother Sean, she was also greatly influenced by her musical grandfather who was widely known for his own singing and storytelling ability. Fionna has been playing the flute and singing since she was a child.

Tom Gillespie, grew up in Central New Jersey and began playing guitar and 5-string banjo at 13, which led to his study in bluegrass, country, jazz, blues and then classical styles. His folk music beginnings were kindled in the 1970s when he came across some Steeleye Span recordings, and he has been playing Celtic music since. 

Together, these six friends and musicians are Blackwater and their shared talents create a unique style that is "Purely Original...Unmistakably Celtic...Trad with a Twist!"

Band Members