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The Dublin City Ramblers

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The Dublin City Ramblers' roots go back to the mid-'60s, when the original members first got together using the name the Jolly Tinkers. That wasn't distinctive enough, however, and in 1968 they changed their name to the Quare Fellas. The group's lineup at the time consisted of Patsy Watchorn, brothers Sean McGuinness and Matt McGuiness, and Pat Cummins. They recorded two albums, At Home and A Fond Tale for the CBS label, losing Pat Cummins between the two -- he was replaced by Brendan Leeson. But the Quare Fellas broke up in 1970, and Watchorn, Sean McGuinness, Mick Crotty, and Kevin Geraghty formed the Dublin City Ramblers out of the wreckage of the first group. This lineup recorded the Ramblers' first album, A Nation Once Again, in 1972. When Crotty and Gerahty left in 1977, they were succeeded by Philip McCaffrey (fiddle) and Kevin Molloy (guitar, vocals). This lineup released seven albums, and represented the band's most successful incarnation, generating the hits "The Rare Ould Times" and "Flight of Earls," among others. McCaffrey and Molloy left in 1988 and the group entered a transitional period, in which ex-Barleycorn member Paddy Sweeney joined for one album (Home and Away, 1989). Next up was a concert recording, Live at Johnny Fox's Pub, which had Shay Kavanagh added to the group. This lineup also recorded The Craic, which marked the end of Patsy Watchorn's time with the band. He pursued a solo career for a time, before joining the Dubliners. The group was reduced to a trio for the next few years but maintained a heavy touring schedule that included regular appearances in the United States. The exit of Sweeney and Kavanagh led to a more fluid lineup in the years that followed, with Sean McGuinness at the core of the Dublin City Ramblers as they headed toward their 40th anniversary. ~ Bruce Eder

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