Dublin natives Keith Roberts (vocals, guitar) and Paul O’Toole (vocals, guitar, mandolin, harmonica) formed the Young Dubliners in the early 1990s after meeting one another in a Los Angeles pub. Roberts had been tweaking some Irish ballads of his own and opted that a band would be in order. O’Toole obliged, as well as Brendan Holmes (bass). They introduced their hearty rock sound on the Rocky Road EP in 1994; their first studio album Breathe appeared a year later, as well as new member Charles Waltz (violin). Their live shows had a jam-like appeal, similar to the vibes of Phish and the Dave Matthews Band, therefore, the band excelled. The live effort, Alive Alive O, was released in 1998, but Waltz left for other musical opportunities. Founding member Paul O’Toole also departed, but by 2000 the Young Dubliners had expanded into a septet and independently released the critically acclaimed Red on their OmTown label. Actor Gabriel Byrne got the band to write the theme song for his short-lived television show Madigan Man. Their life on the road kicked into high gear, too. The Young Dubliners spent most of 2001 touring Europe with Jethro Tull. They also performed at the 2002 Olympics ceremony in Salt Lake City, Utah. That same year, the Young Dubliners scaled back to a five-piece with Roberts, Holmes, the returning Waltz (violin) and newcomers Bob Boulding (guitar) and Dave Ingraham (drums). Absolutely appeared in June and a joint American tour with Seven Nations and Great Big Sea followed. In 2005 the group released Real World, which featured an appearance by Tull frontman Ian Anderson. They have released 9 albums, and are currently working on a tenth.
The Young Dubliners’ style of music fuses traditional Irish instruments and music with modern rock, and their repertoire consists mostly of original rock compositions and Irish folk songs but with a rock twist. Explains founding member Keith Roberts, “The sound was always intended to be a hybrid because we all come from different backgrounds. Even though two of us are from Ireland, a lot of the music we listened to growing up wasn’t Irish at all, but when we got here, we got homesick and developed a new appreciation for Irish music.”
In recent years, The Dubs have appeared on television on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and have even had songs featured in TV shows like Sons Of Anarchy and Human Target, in addition to Hollywood films. For three decades, the group has toured both here in the United States and in Europe where they have opened for artists including Jethro Tull, Chris Isaak, Jonny Lang, John Hiatt, Collective Soul, and Los Lobos.