Live Irish music has done well for Ned Giblin. It's been packing his Carlsbad restaurant and café Tom Giblin's (named after his late father) for six years. The Irish food/music/Guinness formula worked for him as he took it to Escondido (R. O'Sullivan's) in 2004 and to Fallbrook (J.J. "Purty" Landers), which opened last year. Like Tom Giblin's, Irish bands pack in the fans.
But success has its drawbacks. Tom Giblin's must serve a 15-day liquor license suspension this month because it presented acoustic music played over speakers.
Although nobody cared that Tom Giblin's had acoustic Irish bands with amps for five years, last year the state ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control Board) gave Tom Giblin's an "accusation" for allowing mandolins and acoustic guitars to played over amps. A second accusation on St. Patrick's Day led to the 15-day ABC suspension.
Music director Clay Colton said Giblin's has received 3000 signatures protesting the license suspension. "When Tom Giblin's opened, they signed an agreement saying it would only have acoustic music," said Colton. "What [Ned Giblin] overlooked to have in the license is that it was acoustic music played over amps." He said the Giblin's action "...is part of a big sting operation" against Carlsbad bars orchestrated by the City of Carlsbad and the ABC. In the last year Carlsbad officials have been actively citing bars for occupancy violations.
As a result of the ABC action, Irish artists like Brehan Law, Tony Cummins, and Craic Haus and Scottish band the Clachan Boys will be out of work at Tom Giblin's for two weeks. Tom Giblin's hosted live music six nights a week.
I asked ABC administrator Robin Van Dyke why her department ignored Tom Giblin's amplified music for five years and then decided to start issuing citations.
"I have two or three investigators for 1400 [North County] licensees." She said complaints tend to spur her investigators into action. She said after the suspension, Tom Giblin's can ask to modify its license to allow amplifiers. "But I told them there is no guarantee they will be allowed to do it."
"I heard a [Carlsbad] city councilman moved closer to downtown so the fire marshal has been pressuring it constantly," said Rhy Thornton, singer/fiddle player with Irish rockers the Leperkhanz. He said his band left Tom Giblin's after two years over pay. Last week they left their second home base, the Longshot in San Marcos. This time he said it was not over money. "Something always happens at the Longshot. Either a subwoofer blows or someone gets shot. At one of our shows, a dude drove a truck through the front door."