Denis Leary’s Got a Band

Oh sure, Denis Leary is a world class comedian/actor who will be joined on stage by Lenny Clarke, Robert Kelly and Kenny Rogerson on Sunday at the Palace Theatre for his “#ThinningTheHerd” tour. Ah, but there is a band behind the man – the Enablers with the Rehab Horns. All comedians want to be rock stars.

In addition to his live duties with the Enablers, Adam Roth (ex-guitarist for the Del Fuegos) has been doing the music for Leary’s TV show “Rescue Me” for the last four seasons. But Adam and Denis go way back.

Adam recalls, “Denis and I hit it off right away. He always had a jar of iced tea mix on him, which I thought was odd, but I never brought it up.

“We met at Emerson. He was a writing major, I think, and I was there ’cause my folks were sick of me, and the pot was cheap. Also being a theater school, there were five girls to every guy, so it was pretty fun. This was ’76-’80, so they hadn’t invented Herpes or AIDS yet. A guy could really stretch out.

“We were two of a group of guys who started the Emerson comedy workshop. Steve Wright, Chris Phillips, Eddie Brill, Mario Cantone and Lauren Dombrowski were in it as well.”

Remember those Leary MTV ID spots? Yeah, that guy with the guitar behind Leary was Adam. The HBO “No Cure for Cancer” special? Check. The A&M album and MTV unplugged session? Bulls-eye. The Comedy Central New Years Eve special “Comics Come Home” to benefit the Cam Neely Foundation? Yup, that’s Adam Roth, too.

Chris Phillips – a popular voice-over guy – “is a big part of the whole Leary backing band and Denis’ main song writing partner,” Roth explains. They co-wrote “Asshole” for the A&M CD. Joining him in much of this MTV-Comedy Central-touring band madness is Adam’s older brother CP Roth, who plays drums, bass or keyboards equally well for the likes of Joan Jett, Ozzy Osbourne and as a member of Blessid Union of Souls. Add Alec Morton (ex-Raging Slab on bass), and you have a group called the Enablers, who also backed Denis on his “Rescue Me” tour.

I asked Adam why all comedians want to be rock stars. He responded, “I think the solitude of a stand-up comic sitting in his little room writing his comedy manifesto to no one lends him a lot of time to fantasize. That fantasy is perfect for rock. Of course, comics don’t know about the hundreds of hours one has to spend in vans with drummers.”

CP Roth, the drummer, put it more succinctly, “Same reason musicians wanna be comedians: pussy.”

As for Denis Leary as the front-man for the Enablers, Adam says, “I’ve always been comfortable onstage with Denis. There are few who I trust onstage more then that guy.” CP Roth added, “Compared to other comedian/actors-with-a-band, trust me, the kid delivers!”

Also keep an eye out for the hot, young Leary backup singer Liza Colby who along with Alec, Adam and CP Roth of the Enablers are a newly signed act known as the Liza Colby Sound, soon to be bringing their own tour to a Nippertown BBQ near you.

Denis Leary brings his “#ThinningTheHerd” tour to the Palace Theatre in Albany at 7pm on Sunday. Joining Leary in the spotlight will be Lenny Clarke, Robert Kelly, Kenny Rogerson and, of course, the Enablers with the Rehab Horns. Tix are $29, $39, $59 and $99. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Leary Firefighters Foundation.

Story by Matt Mac Haffie

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