The story of the Black River Kings started in Brooklyn, NY in the mid-eighties. It was then that legendary break dancer Tommy Long aka “Big Poppin T” of the Funky Fresh Honkies first battled Eric Schwank aka “Creepin Eric”, founder of the legendary Creepin Crackers Crew. The B-Boy Battle lived up to the hype and lasted sixteen grueling days. Exhausted and out of moves, the two dancers decided they were too white for break dancing, and that they should start a country/rock/roots band. Thus, the Black River Kings were born.
The next step was to find the greatest songwriter in the history of music, Shawn McGhee. At the time Shawn was a background singer in a R. Kelly tribute band called “Booty, Booty, Booty”. He felt the material was too serious and political and accepted the offer to join BRK. Now the band needed a lead guitarist: Enter Mike Patriarca. Mike had recently quit guitar to follow his dream of performing gymnastic moves in the wildly popular Cirque du Soleil. He agreed to join the band on the condition that he would be allowed to wear his Cirque du Soleil outfit, which consisted of little more than gold bodypaint, during all gigs and rehearsals. The band excitedly agreed. Now the BRK needed some drums.
Pete Sosa was becoming bored with his life of lifegaurding, firefighting, scuba diving, piloting airplanes, competitive cycling, taking college classes, playing the drums and shooting guns and decided to join up. The band was nearly complete, but the BRKs felt they needed something else: The whitest instrument of all time, BANJO.
At the time, Marc Opdycke was fronting his solo project called “Please God Kill Me.” He was looking to gain more skills on the banjo and, as legend has it, wandered the pines of NJ to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for banjo perfection. He finally found what he thought was the devil, but turned out to be a badly sunburned piney who robbed Marc of his money and instrument. Standing in the woods broke and banjo-less he is said to have muttered under his breath, “well, that pretty much sums it up for me.” He joined the following day and a banjo was provided for him by the band.
The band then released its first album, an eight disc greatest hits box set entitled “Greatest Shits”, and toured Asia and Africa relentlessly. The tour culminated in a sold out show in Zimbabwe in which they made 2 million dollars in merchandise alone. The African tour was particularly successful grossing 60 million dollars. When reflecting on some of the African shows, drummer Pete Sosa said the following. “It was great, a really wild ride, but looking back I probably should have used protection.” They are currently in the studio working on a follow-up album based on the writings of T. S. Elliot.