- PHOTO BY DAVID GWENNAP
- STILL FULL OF SPIT : The Young Dubliners are hotter than ever after 20 years in the biz. See them March 12 at Downtown Brew.
The first thing you need to know about The Young Dubliners is that singer Keith Roberts now lives in Paso Robles, not that he’s ever there. He and his band have been touring far and wide—playing between 180 and 250 shows a year—but they’re about to make a quick stop through town before heading out again, leaving just enough time to play a rare local gig next Thursday, March 12 at Downtown Brew.
The band has recently dropped their eighth album, Saints and Sinners, and it’s a hoot. From the opening rave-up title track, it’s clear the band has come to party: “Two day stubble/ Staying outta trouble/ Gather in a huddle/ Try to keep a hold of your mind ... Oh sweet Jaysus/ Will heaven save us/ Lived it hard but you’d hardly blame us/ Broke the mold when we stole the show/ No regrets if the truth be told.”
When New Times spoke to Roberts, it became clear that you can take the Irishman out of Ireland, but you can’t take the Irish out of the Irishman. His brogue is still in full form, and he speaks with the colorful language of the pub at closing time.
When asked about relocating to SLO County after so many years in L.A., Roberts rattled off with typical machinegun speed:
“Well, you know, it’s weird. We played in San Luis maybe once a year, always drivin’ away to a gig somewhere else, and everyone in the band was always saying, ‘Ah, what a beautiful place.’ My kids were startin’ kindergarten, and my wife and I were tryin’ to find the right school, and we found ourselves looking farther and farther outside of L.A. in the search. Then SLO came to mind, and it all happened in about a year. Paso Robles is where we decided to go, but I was in the middle of a tour, up to my eyeballs flyin’ in and out.”
Roberts first considered buying something in a rural setting.
“My brother just laughed. ‘What are you, a farmer all of sudden? You had one raised [planter] bed in L.A.’ But we got a house on the edge of town with fields all around.”
After more than 20 years together, it’s no longer important that the band members all live in the same town.
“Yeah, it’s funny. We can pretty much live anywhere we like as long as we’re adventurous enough to get to go wherever we need to go. All the guys are in L.A., so when we’re getting back from a gig and they’re home, I’ve got another three-hour drive. I just listen to an Irish podcast and I’m home in no time. But this time around, I’ll be pulling the tour bus up in front of my house.”
That’ll make the neighbors happy!
“They all pretty much know I’m a musician, and they might’ve been a bit worried at first, but I think they’ve realized I’m not a raging lunatic. I haven’t thrown any mega parties yet.”
To be honest, Roberts is downright domesticated. The day before the Downtown Brew gig, he and the band will play his kids’ Paso kindergarten class. There’s also a free in-store at Boo Boo’s the day of the DT Brew show.
The thing about The Young Dubs is they have a reputation as ragers—after all, when they’re on stage it feels like a real party—but it’s undeserved. In fact, because Roberts had vocal cord surgery a few years ago, his pre-gig ritual sounds more like Mr. Roger’s pre-show warm-up than a rock star gearing up to take the stage.
“There’s a lot of wear and tear after singing for 20 years, and I’m probably the anti-poster child for takin’ care of my vocal cords. I actually find I frustrate people who’ll come up and say, ‘I’d like to take you and the band out for dinner before the show,’ because I never go. I don’t talk between soundcheck and the gig. I get in my bunk, watch a movie. Other guys can have a beer before the gig, no problem, but not me. Even though we have a rep for being partiers, you’ll not find a band more serious. We’ve never played drunk. We maybe get a little buzzed by the end, but behind those antics on stage is a deadly serious band. Sure, I could go to dinner, eat a steak and drink some red wine, but then I’d suck that night.”
Despite his teetotaler pre-gig ritual, Roberts is Irish through and through, but his band is American, and together they’ve created a sound that straddles the two cultures perfectly without pandering to one or the other.
“I think we’re songwriters before we’re Irish or American. Unlike some Celtic bands, we don’t write songs and then inject Celtic instruments to load it up to sound Irish. One song on the new album, ‘Buy Your Life’—there’s nothing Celtic about it; it came out the way it came out. We don’t add gratuitous Irish sounds.”
Not that it would hurt. Americans seem to have a particular fascination with Irish music and culture.
“I know! Someday we’ll end up playing St. Paddy’s Day here [in SLO County]. I’ve been in negotiation, trying to work it out. You know, it’s amazin’. In Dublin, St. Paddy’s is a holy day. We got off school and there was a big parade ... well, basically a bunch of idiots walking around—not even a float, you know? But when I come to American, I couldn’t believe it. Holy crap, my first Paddy’s Day here, a guy gave me a guitar and sent me over to Molly Malone’s in L.A., and I stood on stage and played all day. I made 800 bucks! I thought I hit the jackpot. Of course, not every day is St. Paddy’s.”
And what do they think of The Young Dubliners in Ireland?
“It’s funny, but they seem a bit surprised at how well we’ve done. It’s a tough place to tour; there’s no money in it. The way we do it is we book a tour and bring 120 Americans with us, like we’re selling a trip. We get three airplanes—New York, L.A., Chicago—that drop us in Dublin, and we play some gigs and the Americans have special VIP passes, and when we’re not playin’, we’ll take ’em on a pub crawl. We don’t have a lot of Irish fans. We’ll play a gig and they’ll be 400 or 500 people, but 120 of them will be Americans. After the show usually a bewildered-looking Paddy will wander up and say, ‘Who the fuck are ya?’”
Here in America, The Young Dubs are well known, and with the release of Saints and Sinners, they can expect more fans on the horizon. The 7:30 p.m., 21-and-older show costs $15 presale.
- PHOTO COURTESY OFSERGIO MONROY
- FIERY SPANISH PIANO : Sergio Monroy and his quintet will play an evening of flamenco-meets-jazz on March 6 at the Monday Club.
Based in Spain, the Sergio Monroy Quintet features the brilliant pianist Sergio Monroy, whose music blends the fire of flamenco with the sophistication of jazz into a unique sound that makes me alternately want to dance or make love. Hubba!
On Friday, March 6, Monroy performs an 8 p.m. concert at the Monday Club in SLO. He’s widely recognized as one of the most important contemporary flamenco pianists in Spain and Europe, and on this tour, he and his quintet are making their debut U.S. appearances in support of their terrific new album Chicucho.
Be among the first to see this innovator! Advance tickets are $20 at Boo Boo Records, or $25 at the door.
Locals the Damon Castillo Band, Heath Seager and Robby Hart of Criticnue, and Chase McBride will play a Special Olympics Benefit Concert at Downtown Brew this Friday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m. The all-ages show costs $10 in advance or $12 at the door. According to Castillo, “I’m honored to be a part of such a noble benefit. Like the Special Olympics, I believe in dignity, equality, and opportunity for all people, and I’m looking forward to a wonderful night of music joining with a common purpose.”
- PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS AND THOMAS
- THE OTHER SIMON AND GARFUNKEL : Amazing folk duo Chris and Thomas return to Painted Sky Studios March 6.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF STONEY LARUE
- RED DIRT KING : Downtown Brew hosts Red Dirt singer Stoney LaRue on March 7.
Get sophisticated at the Hamlet this Sunday, March 8 when pianist Greg George delivers a sunset supper club experience at 6 p.m., playing rock, blues, jazz, classical, contemporary pop, and originals. The Hamlet now has music every Thursday through Sunday, and local wines and cocktails are available at their full ocean view bar.
Imagine a female version of MTV’s Jackass and you’ll get an inkling of what’s in store for you when The Rad Girls bring their TV show antics to the Downtown Brew stage for a live performance. Started as a program on Fuse TV and having since moved to MavTV, this trio of superfreak hotties—Ramona Ca$h, Munchie, and Darling Clementine—do stunts involving nudity, bodily excretions, and debauchery. Sounds like fun for the whole family! See them Sunday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. during a 16-and-older, $5 show.
- PHOTO BY BILL MCCULLOUGH
- UNCLE HOWLIN’ WANTS YOU! : Howlin’ Houndog brings his boot-stompin’ blues to Mother’s Tavern on March 8.
This Tuesday, March 10, the Cambria Hoot Roadshow presents Montana Skies in concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Steynberg Gallery ($15; 546-2857). The acclaimed guitar and cello duo is releasing a DVD/CD next month—Montana Skies: Live from Mable Barnes Amphitheatre—and have an extensive national tour to promote it. According to Jennifer and Jonathan Adams, “Throughout the years, we’ve developed many of our own arrangements ranging from world music and classical to original compositions. The fact that ‘ready made’ repertoire is not available for our combination of instruments is really what pushes us to be more creative with our music. We love composing and arranging, and appreciate the opportunity to present old favorites, along with newer music, to our audiences.”
- PHOTO COURTESY OF TWO COW GARAGE
- THE GREATEST ROCK BAND YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF : Two Cow Garage sounds like Bruce Springsteen’s ne’er-do-well cousins. See them March 10 at Mother’s Tavern.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF BELTAINE’S FIRE
- WEIRD GOOD : Bay-area-based Celtic hip-hop band (yes, you read that correctly) Beltaine’s Fire plays March 10 at The Clubhouse and March 11 at Linnaea’s café.
Frenetic San Diego-based indie rockers Republic of Letters hits Mother’s Tavern on Wednesday, March 11 as part of a mini tour to the Bay Area. Mixing rock with atmospheric and melodic sounds has led the band to the outskirts of art rock and back again. And their first EP, Spirit or a Ghost, has been getting spins on over 130 college radio stations nationwide. ∆
Glen Starkey is like a dominatrix except without the riding crop, the leather outfit, and the female genitalia. Explain to him how he’s nothing like a dominatrix at email@example.com.
Finally, we have the re-release of an instrumental Afro-funk masterpiece. Drawing on their collector’s taste, Germany’s Poets of Rhythm dropped their first singles back in the early 1990s. Combining gritty, deep funk with authentic lo-fidelity recording techniques, they launched their funk revival from Munich, completely erasing the demarcation that funk was strictly an American affair. In 1998, the two founding members of the Poets of Rhythm, Jay and Max Whitefield, touched down in New York to record their eponymous debut, In the Raw. Working with Gabriel Roth, the future leader of the Dap-Kings, along with Daptone co-founder Neal Sugarman, Antibalas architect Martin Perna, and a teenage Leon Michaels (El Michael Affair prime mover), together they resurrected a sound of instrumental funk that touched on Afro-beat (Fela Kuti), early ‘70s fuzz-influenced psychedelica and late-‘60s super-heavy and raw soul. Label troubles caused a delay in its release, and then only in limited numbers. But scour eBay no more, as this seminal album gets a fantastic reissue on the eve of the Whitefield Brothers’ sophomore release.
Showcasing the best in broken-beat and nu-jazz, British DJ/producer Quantic leads this current expedition for the Saint-Germain compilation series, highlighting numerous artists from his own label Tru Thoughts as well as tasty remixes that will lead to irresistible head bobbing. Nu-jazz and broken-beat, like any modern musical genre, is an amalgamation. Digging the strong backbeat groove of ‘70s jazz-funk, electronic producers merged it with staggered snare beats and the complex improvisational rhythms and patterns of jazz fusion. All the tracks swing with finger-snapping intentions, keeping the tempo upbeat and vibrant. On this latest collection, you’ll hear the wide influence of Parisian cafe on Waldeck’s “Memories,” swanky exotica on Senor Coconut’s remix of Jamie Lidell’s “Little Bit Of Feel Good,” as well as a bit of Philadelphia soul from Jill Scott on “Brotha.” The second disc focuses Quantic’s DJing abilities, as he mixes choice selections from his own label’s roster. Until KCPR’s Urban Landscapes delivers a CD of its excellent broadcast, this will hold you over perfectly.
—Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and KCBX’s “Night Train.”