Guitar & Vocals
From Balbriggan Co. Dublin
PJ Cullen comes from a traditional Irish Music Family background where as a child he experienced weekly Irish Music Sessions in his home. PJ states that some of the best Irish Music/Musicians visited his home on a regular basis.
In the early years PJ was influenced by his grandfather, a professional fiddle player who played traditional Irish Music. PJ started playing the guitar at an early age and in the 70's progressed to support the rock bands Gary Moore .Thin Lizzy .Eric Bell The Sweet and Marmalade to name but a few.
PJ has played with Irish Rock Bands in Dublin, Galway, and London and then gradually progressed to Irish Music. A full time professional musician and passionate about guitars, is style is influenced by the greats - Chet Atkins, Django Reinhardt and Eric Clapton. PJ plays a variety of styles - Finger Picking, Jazz, the Blues and of course Irish Folk music.
A resident of Australia since 1990, he is an established and respected guitarist on the Irish music scene throughout Sydney and Australia. PJ has played for a number of famous people including the President of Ireland Mary McAleese. He also played at the film premier of Michael Collins with Liam Neeson and for Tourism Ireland at Martin Place on St Patrick's Day combined with Channel 9.
On one occasion he played at the St Georges Leagues Club in the morning then flew to Townsville to play at the St Patrick's Day festivities on the same day. The following day PJ played in Darwin. PJ also represented the Irish community at the celebration of the addition to the new steeples to St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney.
PJ has featured on an Irish Bands CD recorded in Sydney where many Australian Irish bands collaborated on the joint project called ?Irish Bands?. In addition Blackwater supported the Irish Band ?Four Men and a Dog? on their successful Australian Tour in Sydney during the late 90's. PJ brings an innovative sound to traditional and contemporary Irish music and his love for Irish music led to the formation of Blackwater.
Backwater Irish Band is renowned for the excellence of their Irish Wedding Music and is on one of the most popular Wedding bands in Sydney, they have travelled interstate and overseas for these events. Blackwater Irish Band has played Irish Music for over ten years, during that time musicians have come and gone but the band has continued to evolve into the success it is today.
Besides being the lead guitarist for Blackwater Irish Band, PJ is also on half of the band "The Craic" with Martin Horan as the other half. "The Craic" have regular gigs in Scruffy Murphy's Sydney, The Friend in Hand Glebe, The Shannon Bar Chippendale and "The Craic" are always available for bookings, just contact PJ on 02 9824 8276.
PJ is also the guitarist with the "Irish Rogues Show" which can be seen in a variety of Leagues and RSL Clubs throughout NSW including Canterbury-Hurlstone Park, Rooty Hill RSL, Blacktown RSL, Fairfield RSL and Merrylands Bowling Club.
PJ has recorded on albums in Ireland and Australia; one of his latest recordings is on Suzanne Toomey's CD "Somewhere"
As a hobby PJ collects concertinas such as Jeffries, Wheatstone, Lachenal and other musical instruments
Lead vocals, Tin Whistle, Bodhrán, Piano Accordian, Guitar
From Donard, Co. Wicklow
Suzanne Toomey is an established musician and singer in her own right. Suzanne has released a CD / Album "Somewhere" containing Irish music and songs, some are original songs plus some old favourites.
The following songs are on her CD / Album:
Suzanne started playing Irish music at an early age by going to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann classes in her local national school in Donard, Co. Wicklow. There she learned how to read music and play the Tin Whistle, Piano Accordion, Mandolin, Bodhrán and she also learned Irish Dancing whilst attending National School.
Throughout her school years Suzanne was involved in school plays, the local church choir where she played the Church Organ, Folk Groups, Youth Club Plays and musicals, Fleadh Ceols (Irish Music competitions in which she won many awards and represented Wicklow in Leinster Finals on a few occasions).
Suzanne taught herself to play the guitar and starting singing publicly in the early 90's. Firstly in the family pub (Toomey's Bar Donard Co. Wicklow) at the weekly music session with the other local musicians and from here the ball started to roll. In 1993 Suzanne travelled to France with the Geraldine Dwyer Dance School as a singer / musician for a folk music festival. Upon her return she entered in a Music International Competition and represented Carlow / Kildare / Wicklow region in the finals, which were held at the International Rose of Tralee festival in Tralee, Co Kerry.
In 1994 Suzanne travelled to Poland and the Ukraine, again with the Geraldine Dwyer Dance School as a singer / musician to take part in a multi-national Folk Festival where dance and music groups from Iran, Canada, Philippines, Scotland, Ireland, Poland, France, Russia, Hungary Greece took part. From 1994 - 1996 Suzanne gigged in a variety of venues in Wicklow, Carlow, Wexford and Dublin with different musicians. Suzanne entered a number of talent competitions. The crème de la crème was to make the Finals of RTE "Live at Three Search for a Star" which was broadcast on Irish National Television.
This competition was run Ireland wide where they searched for the best of Irish talent and it was narrowed down to 10 for the final which was televised on Irish National Television.
To make it to the top 10 was an achievement and the experience of the whole episode will remain with her forever.
1996 saw Suzanne leave the shores of Ireland for Australia where in 1997 she teamed up with a talented musician from Dublin called Eugene Peelo. Together they formed a group called "Fáinne"; they gigged in Sydney at Mulligan's Irish Restaurant, The Illinois Hotel, The Hero Waterloo, Scruffy Murphy's and The Boatshed on Berowra Waters.
"Fáinne" also performed at a number of weddings and Irish Association Dinner Dances.
1998 saw Fáinne travel around Australia, to supplement their expenses they gigged in various pubs and clubs along the way.
1999 & 2000 were the solo years for Suzanne where she gigged in venues like Mulligan's Irish Restaurant, the Boatshed Restaurant at Berowra Waters, The Illinois Hotel and sang regularly at church weddings and funeral services.
In the year 2000 Suzanne joined Blackwater as lead singer specialising in Irish songs but now the repertoire is quite varied.
Suzanne has sung both the Irish and Australian National Anthems at many events most notably she sang the Australian National Anthem at the Australasian Gaelic Games finals in Sydney 2007 where the Irish Anthem was sung by Damien Leith of Australian Idol fame.
Suzanne specializes in singing at Church Weddings and will always endeavour to sing the songs and / or hymns of your choice to make your day extra special. Suzanne has a voice of gold and can sing anything from the most traditional Irish song (including Gaelic) to contemporary ballads.
Blackwater Irish Band
Blackwater mainly play as a three piece band comprising of PJ Cullen, Suzanne Toomey and this is where things get exciting and refreshing we currently have two very talented ladies who play the fiddle with us on a regular basis.
Anna McInerney : Anna is a classically trained violinist who started playing Irish music 10 years ago whilst living in the UK. During that time she played regularly throughout England, in addition to a couple of trips to Ireland. She has been playing with Blackwater since returning to Australia 2 years ago.
From time to time at other functions eg Weddings and Dinner Dances etc we call on the talented services of very talented Sydney based Base Players, Chris Mearns and Leon. When either of these boys join in on the sounds of Blackwater you are definitely in for a special treat so come along to one of our gigs to hear the fresh sounds of Blackwater Irish Band.
Blackwater CD is finally HERE.
"River" is now available to purchase at any of our gigs or send us an email and PJ will arrange to have a copy posted to you.
Gerry Faulkner (irelanddownunder radio programme) had this to say about "River"
Thanks for your magnificent CD. I think the Molly Malone interpretation is very clever and I would say the first in the World to do it in Irish........magic stuff. Please let Suzy know that it is excellent and I will give it lots of promotion on air.
Thanks for sending it to me .
Cheers for now,
Both PJ and I are proud of the finished product "River" and much thanks to DMC at Villa Armadillo for recording and working so hard on the production of it.