Coming Up • 

Music Events Archives

Johnny Connolly, Eamon McElholm • Pacific Grove, Sep. 17

Solas members Eamon McElholm and Johnny B. Connolly set out as a duo this fall. Playing side-by-side for the past three years with extensive world-wide touring, the two friends have forged a rare musical connection whether firing on reels and jigs or blending in breathtaking accompaniment to Eamon’s brilliant singing. more

Skerryvore, Berkeley • Sep. 29

Freight & Salvage, Berkeley. Award-winning band Skerryvore bring their fusion of multiple music styles, firmly rooted in traditional influences and you won’t be able to stand still. A fast and furious mix of tunes, combined with clever songs and more gentle airs, produces great, contemporary, high-energy Scottish music.

Fintan Vallely, Plough & Stars • Sep 29

Fintan Vallely is a musician, writer, lecturer and researcher on Traditional music. From Co. Armagh, he has taught flute at the Willie Clancy summer school in Co. Clare since 1986, and in that year was the author of the first tutor for Irish flute. A commentator on Traditional music, he has been writing about it since 1990, and lecturing on it at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, University of Ulster, Trinity College Dublin, Dundalk Institute of Technology and in the USA. more

Erica and Friends, San Jose • Sep 29

‘Erica and Friends’ is the hot new Bay Area’s new folk and traditional band. Born of the rich Berkeley Arts culture, they’ve served up an upbeat mix of jigs and reels and pub songs, along with jazz, standards, and sweet ballads all over the East Bay and San Francisco, and now, for the first time, appearing at Art Boutiki in the South Bay. tickets

KVMR Celtic Festival Sep 29 – Oct 1

First founded in 1996, the KVMR Celtic Festival includes eleven performance areas including five musical and six demonstration stages and a weekend-long youth arts instruction that has included Celtic music, magic, dance and songwriting.

Skerryvore, John Whelan, Johnny B. Connolly and Eamon McElholm, Lisa Lynne, Story Road, Maggie and Cassie McDonald, and many more

Low Lily with John Whelan • Oct. 4 Don Quixote’s Felton

Legendary Irish accordion champion John Whelan teams up with the acoustic Americana band Low Lily for an evening of Transatlantic roots music, exploring the musical traditions of Ireland and America. Alongside fiery uptempo Irish jigs and reels will be traditional American folk songs, original songs and instrumentals on fiddle, button accordion, guitars, mandolin, double bass and lush, layered vocals. See Celtic Society of Monterey Bay for more

The Gloaming, Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill • October Dates

The Gloaming dwells at a musical crossroads, enhancing traditional Irish music’s rich, melancholic tones with modern hues of jazz, contemporary classical, and experimental music. Steeped in traditional Irish music since birth, fiddlers Martin Hayes and Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh and sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird are joined by New York pianist Thomas Bartlett (Doveman), and Chicago-born guitarist Dennis Cahill. See Irish Culture Bay Area’s Tom Clancy review of the last Gloaming concert in Berkeley 2014 here

The Gloaming plays The Freight & Salvage, Berkeley, October 12, UC Davis, CA, October 13 tickets

Leading up to The Gloaming dates, the dynamic duo, Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill play Sebastopol, Oct 6, Santa Cruz, Oct 7, Pacific Grove, Oct 8, Los Gatos Oct 10, tickets

Martin Hayes has toured and recorded with guitarist Dennis Cahill for over twenty years, and has collaborated with extraordinary musicians in the classical, folk and contemporary music worlds including Bill Frisell, Ricky Skaggs, Jordi Savall, Brooklyn Rider and the Irish Chamber Orchestra, and has performed on stage with Sting and Paul Simon and recently recorded with Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project.

Van Morrison • Oakland, October 20, 21

“This is a soaring bit of classic Morrison roots-soul — and his best outing in recent years.” – NPR

The lead single off Morrison’s upcoming Roll With The Punches (out Sept. 22) consists largely of the 71-year-old Irish singer belting “gonna be a transformation” over a triumphant soul progression. Morrison plays the Fox Theater in Oakland Sep. 20, 21. tickets

The Coronas • Nov 18

Irish rock band The Coronas joined are by The Hooks for a special Saturday show on November 18 at Brick & Mortar, San Francisco. The band’s extraordinary new album may surprise their army of fans. A sonic leap on from its predecessors, Trust The Wire sees the award-winning, arena-conquering band fuse their arms-aloft melodic pop with lush electronics, spine-tingling atmospherics and a new-found sense of adventure. tix

Niall Horan, Masonic SF • November 22

Irish artist Niall Horan is currently at work on his debut solo album with Capitol Records, and will be hitting the tour circuit in the US, performing live in November in San Francisco. Accompanying himself on piano and guitar, he has been writing new material that takes its inspiration from the music he has favored since childhood – artists such as Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and Crosby, Stills and Nash. Niall has been working with a small team of producers including Julian Bunetta and Greg Kurstin to hone a cohesive sound for the album. Niall has sold over 70 million records as part of the all conquering One Direction and has toured the globe numerous times. His debut Platinum single “This Town,” released in the fall of 2016, has sold more than three million track equivalent units globally. Tickets

Patrick Ball • Berkeley, Nov 22

Journey to the West of Ireland with this solo, dramatic performance based on the life and works of William Butler Yeats.

Patrick and Peter Glazer (Woody Guthrie’s American Song) were given a Fellowship last year by the National University of Ireland in Galway to study W. B. Yeats. They spent a bit of time in the archives and a lot more time rambling around the countryside and in and out of pubs. The result is “Come Dance with Me in Ireland: A Pilgrimage to Yeats Country,” which tells the story of an elderly Irish couple who lived their adult lives in the states but return to Ireland for a “Yeats Country” tour in search of…well, that would be telling.

Join Patrick on this journey to the West of Ireland for a dramatic evening of music, memories and Ireland’s greatest poet.

Freight & Salvage

See calendar pages for more listings

Reviews & Sessions

Past Reviews

Mary Black •

IRISH CULTURE BAY AREA SPECIAL interview with Mary Black

For the last quarter-century, singer Mary Black has been a dominant presence in Irish music, both at home and abroad. She has shared stages and studios with some of the most revered performers of her time. She has also played a leading role in bringing Irish music to an increasingly appreciative and ever-growing global audience. This summer, Mary is back to tour the US, on the 30th Anniversary re release of “By The Time It Gets Dark”. tickets

Tadgh Dolan checks out Lisa Hannigan’s show at Slim’s, SF on Feb 18th:

Taking to the stage at Slim’s bar San Francisco, it’s clear to see why Lisa Hannigan is a star. Her presence on stage requires little accompaniment, as her melodic voice sweeps over the packed crowd. It’s a Saturday night. It’s busy. And Hannigan, despite a bout of laryngitis, is here to put on a show.

It’s been almost nine years since Hannigan’s debut album Sea Sew established her as one of the go to artists in Irish music. Her new foray is entitled At Swim and captures Hannigan at a fragile moment in time. Tracks like “We, The Drowned” and “Lo” give a new insight into the lows Hannigan experienced while living in London, a city she said she never felt at home in. The haunting ballads on the album seem to exercise the demons of self-doubt that plagued Hannigan during this time. What eventually emerges is a steadiness and control unlike anything we have seen from Hannigan before.

At Swim certainly isn’t a feel-good album. Tracks such as “Prayer for the Dying” and “Funeral Suit” show a softer more self-aware side to the singer. It seems that Hannigan is delving deeper into her own personal experiences, and wants to bring her fans on that journey with her.

Judging by the huge turnout at her San Francisco show, it’s a journey that many fans are willing to take. At Swim is a confessional, thoughtful and authentic piece of work and Hannigan keeps her place as one of Ireland’s top performers.


“A good séisiún can leave you walking on air, send you home happy and keep your mind filled with music for a whole week.” – Charlie Lennon

See calendar pages for details of several regular ongoing Irish music sessions in the Bay Area. For information about Sunday séisiúns around the Bay Area, see here

plough_sessionPlough & Stars, San Francisco • Tuesdays, Sundays

At the Plough & Stars Sunday séisiún – you never know who might show up. Pictured above: a mighty Plough session with special guests Mick Moloney and Athena Tergis (photo Eoin Hobden)

O’Flaherty’s, San Jose • Tuesdays


The South Bay’s longest running traditional Irish music session thanks to Ray and Marie O’Flaherty who have kept the tradition going at the pub. Hosted by Julie Horner, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and the music is lively with tunes and songs in the spirit of the tradition. 6:30 to 10:00 every Tuesday evening in downtown San Jose. See Tuesdays on calendar for details.

Meetup groups are also worth checking out for Irish music – and social opportunities. One member shares “…have been playing the whistle for a few years now, originally from India, and have been living in Upstate NY for the last couple years. Kerry music is my favorite!” Join a group or start your own…

In Memory – John Lavelle (1935 – 2016)

johnOne of the San Jose area’s elder statesmen of Irish music, John Edward Lavelle, a regular at O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub sessions, died peacefully at his home October 21st after a long and courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Outside of his love for his wife, Kathleen and sons, daughters and grandchildren, John’s greatest love was playing traditional Irish tunes on the button accordion. He picked up the accordion at the age of five and never put it down. He brought the joy of Irish music to all those around him. He had the honor of playing for Pope John Paul II during his visit to San Francisco in the 1980’s. For years, John could be found performing in Irish music sessions across the Bay Area where he would regale the crowd with selections from the hundreds of traditional tunes in his repertoire. To purchase John’s CD and to find out more go to John Lavelle website.

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