Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day but there is a Dubliner who once claimed he was American during a border inspection.
“I forgot to bring my green card,” said Keith Roberts, who was asked where he was born. “United States of America, sir,” Roberts drawled in his best Southern accent. The officer let him pass.
“We (Irish) all do Southern accents because the only U.S. television show we had was ‘Dallas,’ ” Roberts said.
However, Roberts’ thick Irish accent is easy to detect on the telephone. He spoke to Tahoe Onstage about MontBleu’s fortuitous booking of his band, the Young Dubliners, on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.
The more than 20-year-old band traditionally plays in downtown San Diego on St. Paddy’s. But this year the promoters were concerned because the Irish day of celebration falls on a Monday. Suddenly, the band’s biggest date of the year was open.
“We were hammered with offers,” Roberts said. “I absolutely love Lake Tahoe, and we have a great following in Reno. If it goes really well, you never know, it might be the new Young Dubliners legacy to be in Lake Tahoe on St. Paddy’s day.”
Roberts started the band to play at his bar in Santa Monica but when the Young Dubliners were signed to a record deal, it was encouraged to hit the road.
“We’ve basically been on tour nonstop for 20 years,” said Roberts, who after the Tahoe show will bring his band to Ireland along with about 100 American fans. A 10-day “adventure” will have the fans visit the country during the day and watch the Young Dubliners onstage each night.
Interaction between the band and its fans is what Roberts credits the longevity of the Young Dubliners, which have had the same lineup for 14 years.
“It really is a huge mass family right now and because of that we’re still in business,” he said. “They are helping us by buying our CDs and telling their friends about us and hopefully we are repaying them by entertaining them and giving them a soundtrack to their lives. It’s a very mutually beneficial relationship.”
Glib and amiable, Roberts likes to tell a story about his tour manager, who was pestered by a fan as he was setting up the stage before a show.
“He kept asking, ‘Where’s Keith?’ ”
“He’ll be out soon for the show.”
“But I need to see him.”
The tour manager began to “get pissed off,” Roberts said.
“Why is it so important you see Keith?” he finally asked the fan, who replied, “Because I partied with him last time.”
To that, the tour manager exclaimed, “Who the fuck hasn’t?”
Roberts said he began to settle down about 10 years ago after he had throat surgery. He has adjusted by resting his voice, doing warm-up exercises and traveling smartly.
“In the old days you might have found me at a local Irish pub before the gig having pints of Guinness with the locals, having a laugh,” Roberts said. “You’re not going to see that now. I’ll be in the hotel resting up, getting ready, and I’m not going to be out all night after the show. But I feel more energetic and more into the show now than I did 20 years ago. I know what I’m doing now, so it’s really not that hard. I almost think touring is easier now.”
Robert will be busy in the four days leading up to the Tahoe show, playing in Dallas, Anaheim, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. On the morning of St. Patrick’s Day he plays in downtown Los Angeles. Then the band flies to Tahoe for the nighttime show.
“I assure you and the end of the Tahoe gig it will have been the last show of a crazy schedule and I am going to have a drink,” he said.
Young Dubliners with Brother
When: St. Patrick’s Day, March 17; doors open at 8 p.m., show starts at 10
Where: MontBleu Theatre
Tickets: $30; available at the door, at the MontBleu Box office, or by calling 888-829-7630