Luck o' the Irish
Young Dubliners headline Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day Street Festival downtown
By Bliss Bowen 03/15/2012
Come Saturday, at least seven bars, four bands and two blocks of downtown LA will be dedicated to celebrating Ireland’s patron saint and his namesake holiday. Green beer and Irish whiskey will be flowing at Broadway Bar, Cana Rum, Tony’s Saloon, Cole’s Red Car Bar, Golden Gopher and Seven Grand, but the shamrock-bedecked headquarters for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Street Festival is Casey’s Irish Pub, where everything kicks off at 6 a.m.
Leading the musical revels for the festival will be veteran LA Celts the Young Dubliners. Almost 25 years into their career, Dublin-born bandleader Keith Roberts and his fellow Dubs still maintain a punishing tour schedule. That kind of life brings with it quality problems for a working band, but it can also be taken as a measure of the fan loyalty they’ve maintained since their late-’80s beginnings riling up Santa Monica pub-goers.
Through the mid-’90s they packed LA clubs with fist-pumping devotees — an interesting mix of rock, punk and folk listeners. It wasn’t uncommon to see audience members hopping atop banquettes and tables to sing along to the Dubs’ stomping versions of Irish traditionals like “Follow Me Up to Carlow” and “The Foggy Dew” as well as their own Celtic rock originals. Even after the Young Dubs reached out to mainstream audiences with slicker albums like 2000’s “Red” and 2005’s “Real World,” their live shows still displayed the raw energy that made those early shows memorable.
Lately Roberts and company have been working up material for their next album. At least eight Young Dubliners recordings have been released over the years, through various labels. This time, like countless other veteran and indie bands, the Dubs are turning to their devoted following for financial underwriting, citing the creative freedom such a move allows them in the studio. “Put your faith in us that we will record an album you will want,” Roberts writes in his pledge proposal, asking listeners to essentially buy their music before it’s made. It’s less a promise to deliver than a covenant with fans with whom they’ve already banked substantial amounts of good will.
The Young Dubliners are scheduled to rock Casey’s outdoor stage from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Slated to follow them are tribute bands Hollywood U2 (4 to 6 p.m.), TNT (7 to 8:30 p.m.) and Led Zepplica (9 to 10:30 p.m.).
St. Patrick’s Day Street Festival runs from 6 a.m. Saturday until 2 a.m. Sunday at Casey’s Irish Pub, 613 S. Grand Ave., downtown LA. Music starts on the outdoor stage with the Young Dubliners at 2 p.m. Free admission. For more information, call (213) 817-5321. caseysirishpub.com, youngdubliners.com