Patrick Michael Karnahan and Richard Restivo met on the set of "Back to the Future III" in 1989. This is when the idea of the Black Irish band began to first bloom. Both Patrick and Rick were in the "Hill Valley Brass Band," while future band mate Steve McArthur was given a speaking role as festival man #1. During filming breaks, Patrick and Rick began to formulate the idea for a traditional folk group that would cross cultural and musical boundaries...an acoustic folk band with no limits! At the first band meeting the name Black Irish was chosen. Early the next morning the Loma Prieta Earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area (hence, the 10 year anniversary CD title "The Day the Earth Shook").
The strong vocals and up-tempo instrumentals breathe new life to old songs and present original material with a distinctive flair. The original songs of Patrick Michael Karnahan, such as "Whaler's Cove", "When I Held You", and "The Sierra (the train I ride)", have received considerable airplay on various folk-rock and public radio stations.
The Black Irish Band gained national attention after being featured on CBS "This Morning" with Paula Zahn and Harry Smith. At the "Festival of the Sea" in San Francisco, with attendance around 40,000, the band delighted huge audiences with their eclectic musical style. In addition, the band performed at the North Texas Irish Faire and the International Celtic Festival in Vail, Colorado. They continue to draw crowds at Fitzgerald's Casino in Reno, Nevada and the California Railroad Museum in Sacramento, including a week of concerts at "Railfair '99". In April of 2000 the band headlined at the 1st International Music and Beer Festival in Singapore.
The Great North is becoming a regular destination for the Black Irish Band, where they performed at the 100th anniversary of the Yukon Gold Strike in Skagway, Alaska, the 100th anniversary of the White Pass and Yukon Railroad in Carcross, Yukon, the Fairbanks Celtic Festival in 2001 and the Calaveras Celtic Faire in 2002. The band's music has been heard at the Golden Spike National Historic Park in Utah, and the National Maritime Museum in San Francisco, as well as state museums and parks like The Alaska State History Museum, Sutter's Fort in Sacramento, Bodie State Historic Park, The Monterey Maritime Museum, and Columbia State Historic Park.