Young Dubliners frontman Keith Roberts swears the hangover never kicks in until it’s all over.
But for the next month and a half, the Irish-rocking quintet will zigzag around the United States pretending that every day is St. Patrick’s Day.
“There’s only one St. Paddy’s Day,” Roberts says. “So we have to convince people that March 2 is also St. Patrick’s Day. And March 8. And March 16.”
If any band is equipped for this, it’s the Dubs. For the past quarter century, the Los Angeles-based group’s explosive cocktail of Celtic tradition and American rock has whipped crowds into a year-round, Guinness-guzzling frenzy.
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The Dubs’ annual “Pre-Paddy’s Day Tour” will invade Idaho twice — March 2 at Jerome’s Diamondz Event Center and March 3 at Boise’s Knitting Factory. Over the following weeks, the tour will evolve into a post-Paddy’s Day marathon, and Roberts will be on stage raising a toast to Tax Day.
“Convincing people on April 13 that it’s still St. Patrick’s Day is a little ... challenging,” he admits, laughing. “But we’ll be *#%ing doing it!”
Armed with original anthems and whiskey-sloshing traditional music (“Follow Me Up to Carlow,” “The Foggy Dew”), the Dubliners create their illusion all too easily. Besides, celebrating the Irish cultural holiday a wee bit early (and late) is not unlike seeing Christmas decorations in stores before Thanksgiving has arrived, Roberts says.
“Since the beginning of last February, the Wal-Mart I was in had *#%ing shamrocks for sale,” chides Roberts, who was born in Dublin but moved to Los Angeles with Irish-born bassist Brendan Holmes in 1988. “It’s not our fault. It is the way to sort of make things a month-long celebration.
“I also like to say because of Valentine’s Day, we go straight from hearts and chocolate to shamrocks and puke!” he quips, laughing again. “Feb. 15, out come the shamrocks and the hangover pills all over the Wal-Marts of America!”
On a normal tour, most bands proceed from point A to point B while making stops along the way. The St. Patrick’s Day adventure doesn’t quite work that way. It’s more like a drunken jackrabbit chasing a spastic carrot back and forth across the continent.
Still, the dates account for about one-third of the Dubs’ annual concert income, Roberts says. So it’s worth the effort. It’s also strangely enjoyable to lead room after room full of Americans on a bender of sweat, shots and Irish-themed merriment. “There’s just so many gigs and so much traveling and so many hotels and flights and gear to get through, you don’t really feel the wall of this tour until it’s over,” Roberts says.
This coming from a man who was late calling for this phone interview — and why? Because he had to hire a wrecker to pull the band’s van and trailer out of the mud near his San Luis Obispo home.
The Young Dubs’ annual Paddy’s Day tour: Off to its usual efficient start!
“It’s a logistical nightmare,” Roberts says enthusiastically. “There is a plan, believe it or not.”