We say, ‘Hey, forget the short trips — come take the long trip with us!’” says Roberts, who just added a deluxe package that includes three castles on a seventh jaunt in March.
The group hits Yoshi’s in San Francisco today and Petaluma on Thursday backing its rollicking, aptly dubbed ninth album, “9.”
Afterward, Roberts will finalize the passenger manifest for his “Auld-Sod” return. The first year’s tally was too sprawling at 120 people. The perfect number is 75, he has discovered, so everyone can bunk under one roof and fit comfortably into a single dining room.
A full Irish breakfast is included each morning, then daily guided sightseeing (featuring locations like the Cliffs of Moher), then pub crawls with the Young Dubs on their nights off.
Roberts didn’t think up this crazy scheme himself. Years ago, a travel agent proposed it to him, but he nixed it.
“At first, it just sounded cheesy, being locked away in an overseas hotel with people you don’t know,” he says. “But then another band did it — Black 47, out of New York — so I said we’d try it one time. And it was amazing. It turned the Irish tour from a financial once-in-a-blue-moon trip into something we can afford to do every year now. So we don’t change what we do — we just play a couple of extra holiday-esque towns, so folks can really see Ireland.”
On a typical ocean cruise, a couple might meet one or two other couples with similar interests. “But with us, everybody at the dinner table that first night has something in common,” Roberts says. “They’ve all seen the band somewhere in America, or have followed us for years, so they’re immediately talking to each other and the friendships start right off the bat. That’s why we’ve had such repeat business — these people have become friends for life.”
There is the occasional snafu. One lager lout was sent packing by the tour coordinator after trashing his five-star hotel room, and another mom’s prudish physician daughter went missing for two days.
“But it turned out she’d been partying her head off in Dublin with some guy named Seamus,” Roberts chuckles. “We like to joke that we’ll bring 100 people to Ireland. And if we’re lucky, we’ll get 80 of you back!”
IF YOU GO
Where: Yoshi’s, 1330 Fillmore St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Tickets: $19 to $23
Contact: (415) 655-5600, www.yoshis.com