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The Young Dubliners were founded in 1988 by Dublin natives Keith Roberts and Paul O’Toole. The two began playing together at the Irish Rover in Santa Monica, California, and while trading off lead vocals and blending Roberts aggressive acoustic guitar work with O’Toole’s mandolin and harmonica, they began to craft an original style immediately. “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). “ Their shows were recorded by their soundman, Rob McCulley. Based on these recordings, the Young Dubliners produced their first original song, "Keaton’s Bar", and a cassette tape of Irish folk and pop songs recorded live at the Irish Rover entitled "The Young Dubliners". After this recording, the line-up of the band changed continuously. The only constant band member during this time was bassist Brendan Holmes, who grew up near Roberts in the Dublin suburb of Dún Laoghaire (Dunleary) . Songs like "Dirty Old Town", "Fisherman’s Blues" and "Rocky Road to Dublin" became essential songs. After having been directly influenced by Celtic musician Christy Moore and Irish band The Furey Brothers, The Young Dubliners released their second original song "Home", on an eponymously titled second cassette. Unlike their first cassette, their second cassette was recorded in a studio and featured additional musicians and overdubs, but otherwise had a similar mix of Irish folk and pop songs. After this, they stopped playing at The Irish Rover exclusively and branched out to other venues.

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