Over the past few decades, the Young Dubliners have developed a strong bond with their Utah fans.
“We could chart our career by what we do in Salt Lake City,” said Keith Roberts, the Irish-born lead singer and guitarist for the Celtic rock band, which for many years has scheduled a Utah performance the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day.
This year is no exception, with an 8 p.m. show at The Depot in Salt Lake City set for Saturday, March 15.
“We always like to give Salt Lake a prime night,” Roberts said during a recent telephone interview. “It’s literally one of our best audiences. Always has been.”
Just to prove it, he has a painting of Salt Lake City’s old Zephyr Club hanging in his studio. “An artist painted and gave it to us at the last show we did there before it closed down,” he said.
Roberts even remembers the first time he played at the club on the corner of 300 South and West Temple. Only 40 people showed up to the weeknight show, he said, but the owner asked the band to return for a Saturday night, convinced that word would spread.
“We came back and sold out,” said Roberts, whose band mates now include Bob Boulding (guitar/vocals), Dave Ingraham (drums/percussion), Chas Waltz (violin/mandolin) and Brendan Holmes (bass/vocals).
Earlier this month, the Dubs, based in Los Angeles, released their ninth album, aptly named “Nine.” It’s their first independent album and one financed by fans. Roberts answered a few questions about the new music and St. Patrick’s Day traditions.
What made you decide to create an independent album?
We were lucky we never had major interference from our label, but you still need their approval and their money and their release date — certain things that are out of your control that we wanted control of. A record label is a massive help to a young band, but we have such an amazing fan base. And we already have a publicist, an agent and radio recognition. We have all the elements, so we were a perfect candidate for going it alone.
How did independence affect the music on “Nine”?
This one is well pickled. Most of the time you write songs and record under severe time restrictions. But there are two or three songs on “Nine” that have completely different melodies and lyrics than when originally written. They are way better than if I had been forced to go with the initial idea. We were able to stew on them and make them better. That’s a big worry as a musician, that you’ll finish an album and be sick of it and never want to hear it again. But with this album, I keep hearing things I didn’t notice before and we’re still very happy with it. It’s a good feeling to know you’ve made something that will stand the test of time and be your legacy.
Will we hear any of the new songs at Saturday’s concert?
Yes, we’ve worked up a heavy Irish set for March that includes six songs from the new album, the most we’ve ever played from a new album.
Is there a song that has become a favorite?
“We the Mighty,” the album opener. We’ve been playing it live the longest and I think it’s got the best message. But with “Seeds of Sorrow,” I think we are at our most playful and rockin’. We love the lyrics, it’s a down and dirty song with a positive message: “Throw away your seed of sorrow.” It’s hopefully an uplifting song for people in the dumps. It feels like you’ve heard it before, like a lived-in shoe. People get it immediately.
Do you ever make it back to Ireland?
After the Salt Lake show and Lake Tahoe, we’ll perform in Killarney and Kinsale, Ireland. (Dublin also is on the list.) We take 100 Americans who tour with us for 10 days. Some big fans, who know every word. The Irish are always looking on bewildered, wondering what in God’s name is going on.
Will you eat corned beef and cabbage on March 17?
I hate cabbage more than any other vegetable, excluding Brussels sprouts. So, no, the meal is very unique to America. It was a big shocker when I got here. It’s a big holy day in Ireland, you went to Mass and saw a little parade. Here it’s a day to get up and get hammered and then spend March 18 apologizing to everyone you love for what you did. But we embraced the tradition with open arms.
P Get into the St. Paddy’s Day spirit with Celtic rockers Young Dubliners. Special guests Swagger and Brother.
When • Saturday, 8 p.m.; doors open at 7 p.m.
Where • The Depot, 400 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $23 in advance, $26 day of
Info • depotslc.com; a 21-and-older show
More Irish music
P The Rebel Celts meld traditional Celtic rock with ska, punk, country and reggae.
When • Tonight and Saturday
Where • Piper Down, 1492 S. State St., Salt Lake City