* What: Nightfall Concert Series featuring The Young Dubliners.
* When: 8 tonight; More Like Me opens at 7 p.m.
* Where: Miller Plaza, corner of M.L. King Boulevard, Cherry and Market streets.
* Admission: Free.
* Phone: 265-0771.
* Related links at current.timesfreepress.com.
When Keith Roberts left Dublin, Ireland, to pursue a career in journalism in Los Angeles in the '80s, he was convinced he would practically trip over job offers to sit behind a news desk.
That didn't happen. Instead, he ended up in a mad scramble for jobs that eventually killed his dream, so he and fellow Dubliner Paul O'Toole started The Young Dubliners, a Celtic rock band that became one of the world's preeminent acts of the genre.
Toole and Roberts started off playing a handful of impromptu St. Patrick's Day gigs around L.A. The experience showed them they could eke out a living and achieve a little fame in the process.
"Everyone was giving us booze and paying us, and we thought, 'Oh man, this is the life,' " Roberts said during a phone interview. "We grew up with St. Patrick's Day being a holy day, a day off from school.
"All the sudden, here it was this huge deal."
After those initial dates, the duo joined forces with American musicians to form a group built around influences from both sides of the Atlantic, including Ireland's Horslips and U2 as well as American and British artists such as Todd Rundgren and The Human League.
The group never settled on a name but instead became colloquially known in L.A. as "the young lads from Dublin." They continued to play under that moniker during the early days while serving as the house band at Roberts' bar, where future Flogging Molly frontman David King was a regular opening act.
The band's blend of Irish and American music attracted the attention of labels, and the musicians signed their first contract in the early '90s. By that point, it was too late to choose a new name, so "the young lads from Dublin" became The Young Dubliners.
The band now stands alongside bands such as The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly as the standard-bearers of American Celtic rock. Tonight, The Young Dubliners will take the stage as the Nightfall headliner to perform a set drawing on the full sweep of the band's nine-album discography.
In the first years after The Young Dubliners hit the road in 1994, the group lost many of its founding members, including O'Toole. A new, five-piece lineup solidified about 12 years ago, however, and Roberts said the new configuration represents the ideal he was seeking from the beginning.
"Every time we lost somebody, we tried to upgrade," he said, laughing. "We eventually ended up getting the players we really wanted and the instruments we wanted and the talent we wanted.
"It's five weapons is what it is. You can bring any song to these guys, and they'll play it and improve upon it and do it proud, night after night."
Contact Casey Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @Phillips CTFP.
Online: Read a Q&A.
1998: "Alive Alive O"
2005: "Real World"
2007: "With All Due Respect: The Irish Sessions"
2009: "Saints and Sinners"
More Like Me is a local pop/rock band consisting of teen triplets Justin, Jared and Jordan Roberts, all students at Center for Creative Arts and fans of The Beatles.
RELATED LINKS FOR WEB:
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...
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