Meet the Band: The Young Dubliners
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — On Sunday, March 1, the Young Dubliners will take the stage at the Chief Theater for a rollicking night of Celtic rock music. The band is kicking off their U.S. tour this month, and Explore Steamboat caught up with founder and lead singer Keith Roberts, who told us about the band, the tour and of course, plans for St. Patrick’s Day.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Explore Steamboat: How did the Young Dubliners get started?
Keith Roberts: I started the band in Los Angeles, after I came from Ireland in the early 1990s. I had an Irish pub in Santa Monica, and we started as sort of a bar band to play on Saturday nights. Nearly 30 years and 10 albums later, we’re still here.
ES: Does the band still have all its original members?
KR: No, we’ve had some personnel changes over the years. There’s been about three incarnations of the band. Right now, I play guitar and do vocals. Chas Waltz is on the keyboard and violin; he’s from Kansas City. Justin Pecot is guitar and vocals. Dave Ingraham, from Michigan, is on the drums, and we have a new member, Ethan Jones, also from Kansas City, who plays bass. He was our guitar tech 20-something years ago and then he moved to Hawaii. But when he heard the position was open, he flew in to audition and nailed it right off the bat.
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ES: You’re all from different parts of the country and the world. How would you describe your music and influences?
KR: My upbringing was English and Irish rock. It was only when I came to America that I got that homesick feeling and started to embrace more traditional Irish music as well. I tried to blend it with rock and find like-minded musicians who wanted to blend sounds and influences. Celtic rock was a genre given by the media early on, but we’re a lot more than that. We’re kind of the sum of our parts — everyone influences and everyone’s playing style makes us an unusual version of that genre.
What: The Young Dubliners
When: 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, March 1
Where: Chief Theater, 813 Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: $20; available at chieftheater.com
ES: Tell us about the tour.
KR: We did a few warm up shows in Los Angeles and Alaska, but it officially started Thursday, Feb 27. We’ll go across the states, mostly in the Rockies and the Western part of the country until March 19. On March 20, we fly to Ireland for a 10-day tour, and we’ll take 150 of our American fans with us. It’s something we do every year. When we get back, we’ll fly straight to Miami to start the On the Blue rock cruise. Then we have a few weeks off before the summer tour.
ES: Sounds busy. Do you find time to explore places?
KR: Sometimes, if we have a day off. Most of it is a routine: get to the hotel, prepare, do the show. But we always try to get a feel for the place we’re in. That usually involves going out for a couple of beers after the show.
ES: Have you been to Steamboat Springs before?
KR: Yes, several times. We try to play at the Chief (Theater) once a year — that’s our home in Steamboat.
ES: Where is your favorite place that you’ve played?
KR: Steamboat Springs! No, there’s loads of different places. A lot of times it has more to do with the gig when you played a really great show and you attach that to the place. One of my favorites was at a festival in Switzerland. The entire crowd learns a dance, and they do the dance for each band to their tempo. So when you look out at the audience, it looks like 6,000 (people) know your song so well and are dancing to it.
ES: What are the band’s plans for the future?
KR: We’re writing a new record right now, so we’ll work on recording that. It’s our second crowd-funded record, so we’ll release a few songs at a time before creating the whole album. That also makes it easier for us to stay on the road for longer.
ES: As a Celtic rock band, what are your plans for St. Patrick’s Day?
KR: Well St. Patrick’s Day has been “the day” for us ever since we started, but it’s kind of like our New Year’s Eve. We have to keep it together and be disciplined since we’re performing. This year, St. Patrick’s Day is on a Tuesday, so we’re doing our big show on Saturday night in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. They shut down the street, and we’ll play on a big stage in the middle of the street. It’s fun but a little bit different than playing in a theater where people are actually listening to you. On the actual day, we’re playing in Lake Tahoe, so it shouldn’t be as nuts, but who knows.
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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