On Stage: Young Dubliners headlining at Sellersville

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

The Young Dubliners

There are times when bands have names that can be deceiving…like the band that is headlining a show on August 12 at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) — the Young Dubliners.

The Young Dubliners — Keith Roberts, lead vocals and acoustic guitar; Chas Waltz, violin, keyboard, harmonica, mandolin and vocals; Justin Pecot, guitar and vocals; Dave Ingraham, drums and percussion; Ethan Jones, bass – are neither young nor Dubliners.

Actually, there is a Dubliner in the band — founding member Roberts. The band’s frontman is a Dublin native who put the band together in 1988 in Los Angeles.

“I graduated from University College Dublin when I was 21,” said Roberts, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “I left Ireland 28 years ago and moved to L.A. and then to northern California. I’m now living in Paso Robles.

“I came to L.A. and worked on movie sets. After a while, I took over a bar in L.A. called Fair City, which is a reference to Dublin.”

More than 30 years ago, Roberts, who was a journalism major in college, opened his own Santa Monica bar, Fair City, A Dublin Pub. The main attraction at Fair City became Roberts’ band, which patrons started calling the Young Dubliners. In the mid-’90s, he sold Fair City to concentrate on the Young Dubliners.

“The original Dubliners were like the biggest band ever from Ireland,” said Roberts. “My dad was very good friend with the Dubliners. We used to hang out with them and go over to their houses and stuff. When we started playing over here as the Young Dubliners, I reached out to them to see if they were O.K. with us using this name and they were fine with it.

“Originally, when I started the band 30 years ago, there were two guys from Dublin – me and Paul O’Toole. Now, I’m the only Irish one in the band. The band has gone through line-up changes over the years, In the last four years, our bass player and a guitar player left. Now, I have a solid line-up.

“The band’s music is always a combination of Irish music upbringing and American music upbringing. My Gaelic influences were Big Country and Waterboys more than traditional bands.

“We’ve always been creating our own sound. I’ve always tried to be as unique as possible. Our Irish-American band has pre-dated American/Irish bands like Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. The only similar band when we started was the Pogues.

“The Pogues have always been an influence, but my biggest influence has been Big Country. They’re a Scottish band but when I first heard them, I was really impressed because it was Celtic music with electric guitars.”

The Young Dubliners, whose album count is in double figure, now are finally back on the road again.

“We’re making up for a year-and-a-half of doing nothing,” said Roberts. “Right now, we’re playing mostly festivals. Our only club dates are the two on the East Coast – Sellersville Theater and Daryl’s House. It seems like everything still is mostly outdoors.”

Video link for the Young Dubliners – https://youtu.be/xJ80d5oQnuQ.

The show at Sellersville on August 12 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $21.50. Livestream tickets are $10.

Mike Farris

The Sellersville Theater is known for presenting top-flight blues acts and this week is no different with Mike Farris on August 13 and Indigenous on August 15.

Farris was the founder and lead singer of Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies. After the group disbanded around the turn of the century, Farris continued on as a solo act with a focus on early American gospel and blues.

His 2015 album “Shine for the People’ won a Grammy Award for “Best Roots Gospel Album). His latest record, “Silver & Stone,” has a bluesier vibe. Farris has released seven albums and his two most recent discs came out on Compass Records.

“With ‘Silver & Stone,’ we had just come off getting a Grammy for best roots/gospel album,” said Farris, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from his home in Nashville.

“I felt it was a good time to start a new venture. I had been pulling from black gospel music since 2007. The new album is more rock. I looked for inspiration at that crossroads.”

Farris’ main inspiration for the album was his wife, Julie.

“My wife Julie was my muse for ‘Silver & Stone,’” said Farris. “It became an homage to her.”

The album’s title refers to his wife Julie’s wedding ring, and the album is a celebration of their 25 years of marriage and her steadfastness in sticking by him through his years of struggling with addiction and alcoholism.  Now sober for 10 years, Farris has the energy and conviction of a man saved.

“It was 10 years ago – April 2011 – that I went the spiritual route for rehab,” said Farris. “It was a 12-step immersion program.

“What I realized through Julie that the one thing we’d been leaving out while trying to stay clean was the need to get down to the ‘why’ – why am I self-destructive?

“So, I got clean and learned about myself. Then, I became a more useful human being.”

Produced at Compass Sound Studio in Nashville by Compass Records co-founder, Garry West, “Silver & Stone,” which was released in September 2018, finds Farris imbuing his songs with a vibey, lighthearted feel, returning to his roots as a rocker and soul singer.

The studio band includes famed “Memphis Boy” Gene Chrisman (Dusty Springfield, Elvis Presley, Dan Auerbach) sharing drum duties with Derrek Phillips (Robben Ford, Hank Williams Jr.).

It also featured keyboardists Reese Wynans (Joe Bonamassa, Double Trouble) and long-time Farris collaborator Paul Brown (Waterboys, Ann Peebles), guitarists Doug Lancio (Patty Griffin, John Hiatt), Rob McNelly (Delbert McClinton) and George Marinelli (Bonnie Raitt) with Steve Mackey (Wallflowers, Delbert McClinton) and producer West splitting bass duties.

Last year should have been a year of touring in support of the album but COVID-19 wiped out that option.

“I only worked a little bit during the pandemic,” said Farris. “It was a very disenchanting time of my life. Luckily, I had a lot of songs in the works – more than an album. I’d like to get in the studio as soon as possible.

“Usually, I do 85-100 shows a year. Maybe, I did 20 last year. During the pandemic, I played golf – a lot of golf. I got my handicap down to a single digit.”

Video link for Mike Farris – https://youtu.be/J2B4hjr1LBY.

The show at Sellersville on August 13 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $21.50. Livestream tickets are $12.50.


Indigenous, which is headlining a show on August 15 at the Sellersville Theater, got its start just over two decades ago as a family band —   brothers Mato Nanji and Pte Nanji, their sister Wanbdi Nanji and their cousin Horse.

The Nakota Nation members grew up on South Dakota’s Yankton Indian Reservation, where their father, Greg Zephier, became a spokesperson for Native American rights.

Zephier, who was also a well-respected musician, provided his children with records from blues musicians such as B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and Freddie King, and taught them to play their respective instruments. The family started touring together, and soon the children were performing on their own.

“I’m the only one of the original four left in the band,” said Mato Nanji, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from his home on the Yankton reservation which is located in Charles Mix County in southeastern South Dakota.

The group released its debut album, Things We Do on Pachyderm Records in 1998. In 1999, Indigenous won three Native American Music Awards for its debut record, including two top honors — Album of the Year and Group of the Year.

Later that year, Indigenous released an EP, Blues This Morning, and a full-length album, Live at Pachyderm Studios in 1999, and continued the momentum. Live at Pachyderm won two Native American Music Awards for Best Blues Album and Group of the Year in 2000. The foursome followed with “Circle” in 2000, “Indigenous” in 2003, “Long Way Home” in 2005 and “Chasing the Sun” in 2006.

“The family lineup stayed together until 2006,” said Nanji. “Then, we all decided to go different directions.

“It was tough to keep Indigenous going but the music was what mattered. I’ve made a bunch of albums over the last 20 years.”

The Indigenous discography also includes “Broken Lands” in 2008, “The Acoustic Sessions” in 2010, “Indigenous – Featuring Mato Nanji” in 2012, “Vanishing Americans” in 2013, “Time Is Coming” in 2014 and “Gray Skies” in 2017.

“My last album was ‘Gray Skies’ a few years ago,” said Nanji. “I’ve kinda been working on some new stuff lately. Because of the pandemic, I’ve had some time. I just stayed home. It was the first time in 15 years that I wasn’t on the road for a lot of each year.

“It was good. I needed the break. I did some new music. I do a lot of writing on my acoustic guitar.”

Nanji’s father was a well-known and highly respected spiritual advisor and spokesperson for the International Indian Treaty Council. He was a key member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, a Dakota tribe whose list of notable leaders includes Chief Struck By The Ree (1804–1888), Chief Running Bull (1826–1900) and Chief Smutty Bear (1790-1865).

In addition to this leadership role, Zephier was an accomplished musician and a member of the musical group, The Vanishing Americans. Formed by Greg and his brothers in the ‘60’s, The Vanishing Americans toured nationally and shared bills with such legends as Bonnie Raitt.

Besides being heavily influenced by the music his father and uncles were making, Nanji was exposed to Zephier’s vast collection of blues records by legendary artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and B.B. King. With the experience, love and wisdom of their father to guide them, Mato, his brother, sister and cousin formed the band Indigenous while in their late teens.

My mom and dad had a great record collection,” said Nanji. “It was a mix of everything – from Jimi to Otis (Redding) – to B.B. King and Albert King. That’s what got me into the style of music I do now – starting with blues which is my favorite.”

Indigenous’ music caught the attention of blues icon B.B. King and the young band was invited to play on his annual B.B. King’s Blues Tour in 1999. Sadly, their father crossed over before seeing his children receive this great honor.

“Indigenous formed right before my father died,” said Nanji. “We carried on with his spirit. We were his foal – and my mom’s foal. Both have a real presence on our music.”

Both also have a grandson in Indigenous.

“We’re a four-piece right now with my son Evan Nanji playing guitar,” said Nanji. “Our bass player is Justin Cournoyer, an old friend of mine from the reservation. We go back-and-forth with drummers. Most of the time it’s Kurt Olson, a friend from Minnesota. Sometimes, my sister Wandbi does some shows with us.

“Our live shows are a mix of everything. We try to get a song off each record and other times, it’s a lot of blues stuff. We never use a set list.”

Video link for Indigenous – https://youtu.be/cdeo2WlyVvY.

The show at Sellersville on August 15, which also features Nick Schebelen, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.50. Livestream tickets are $19.50.

Other upcoming acts at Sellersville Theater are Who’s Next on August 14, Brian Dunne on August 19 and Savoy Brown on August 20.

Dave Keller

Another venue presenting a lot of blues music this weekend is Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985, jameyshouseofmusic.com) with the Erin Harpe Country Blues Duo on August 12, the Dave Keller Band on August 13, and the Jimmy Pritchard Band on August 14.

Keller has built a solid reputation as a blues guitarist/vocalist. Unlike many younger American blues cats, Keller did not start his music career at a young age.

A bit of a late bloomer, Keller grew up in Massachusetts, loving music, but not picking up a guitar until age 16, and not singing in his first band until age 20. But blessed with mentors including deep soul singer Mighty Sam McClain, mystical soul guitarist Robert Ward, acoustic blues master Paul Rishell, and soul/blues man Johnny Rawls, Keller made up for the lost time.

“I really got into Jimi Hendrix when I was a sophomore at Wesleyan College,” said Keller, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from his home in Montpelier, Vermont. “I had played guitar for a while, but I couldn’t figure out how to play Jimi.

“I read about how Jimi went to Chicago to learn from the masters. So, I started studying blues records – Albert King, Sonny Boy Williamson, Magic Sam. This was during the 1980s – the era of vapid music. I wanted something more real. I was listening to Otis Rush and early Buddy Guy. Ronnie Earl was a big influence. I got to watch him play a lot because he was living just outside Boston. Years later, I got to play and record with him.”

Ever since legendary guitarist Ronnie Earl chose Keller to sing on his 2010 album, “Living In The Light,” Keller has been on the rise, earning two Blues Music Award nominations for Best Soul/Blues Album, winning the International Blues Challenge “Best Self-Released CD Award,”, and being chosen for Downbeat’s “Best Recordings of the Year.”

His 2018 CD, “Every Soul’s a Star,” released on esteemed soul/blues label Catfood Records, was produced by multiple-Grammy-winning legend Jim Gaines (Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Steve Miller, Tower of Power, Luther Allison, etc.).

In February 2020, Keller released his first-ever live album, “Live At The Killer Guitar Thriller!” (Tastee-Tone Records), which won the Tammie Award for Best Album of the Year.

“I recorded the live album down in Pennsylvania — at the Bucks County Blues Festival,” said Keller. Recorded it in 2019 and it came out in February 2020.

“I did my first recording in 1993 right when I moved to Vermont. It was an acoustic solo album that was just on cassette. My first CD was ‘Faith’ in 1998. I’ve recorded eight or nine CDs since.

“The most recent is ‘You Get What You Give,’ which was a duets album released in December 2020.”

“You Get What You Give” is an album of original duets, with some of the biggest names in the Blues and Soul world. It features Blues Hall of Famer Joe Louis Walker; Houston’s Queen of the Blues, Trudy Lynn; Keller’s mentor, Mississippi’s Johnny Rawls; Blues Music Award Winner Annika Chambers; and Juno Award Winner Dawn Tyler Watson.

All backed by Keller’s road-tested band: Ira Friedman on keys, Jay Gleason on drums, and Alex Budney on bass. There was also a killer horn section led by Mark Earley of Roomful of Blues renown and special guests such as Chris Robertson (slide guitarist extraordinaire), and Memphis’ 18-year-old wunderkind Vince Allen (guitar), who also happens to be the grandson of Keller’s late songwriting mentor, Darryl Carter (“A Woman’s Gotta Have It”, “Blind, Crippled and Crazy”).

All money from album sales goes to groups working for Racial Justice and Equity.  This album exists thanks to generous donations of time from all the musicians, plus two of the finest studios in New England: Sugarhouse Soundworks and The Tank Recording Studio.

Video link for Dave Keller Band – https://youtu.be/xCVP8TjrylU.

The show on August 13 at Jamey’s will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 advance online and $18 at the door.

Kennett Flash’s Rooftop Series (Kennett Square Parking Garage Rooftop, 100 East Linden Street., Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will present Solar Federation – A Tribute to Rush on August 14.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) is hosting Liz Longley on August 12, Damn the Torpedoes on August 13, and Jon Anderson on August 17.

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