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Music Events Archives

O’Neill Irish Music Festival, Tiburon • Feb 23-25

The festival opens on Thursday, Feb 23 with a presentation by festival founder Tom O’Neill on the “Incredible Life Of Francis O’Neill – The Man Who Saved Irish Music” at Sam’s Anchor Cafe in Tiburon, with accompaniment by local Irish musicians. Two shows follow on Friday, Feb 24th and Saturday, Feb 25th at the Lodge in Tiburon, featuring Lucia Comnes, The Black Brothers, David Winter, Kyle Alden, John Caulfield, Todd Denman, Marla Fibish, and many more. See full musician lineup here

Gerry O’Connor, Plough & Stars • March 2

Join virtuoso Irish fiddler Gerry O’Connor and local guitar legend, Richard Mandel for an evening of music and fun, to kick off the Irish-American Crossroads 2017 Festival at the Plough & Stars bar in San Francisco. O’Connor has played and recorded with such highly regarded groups as Lá Lúgh, Skylark , Planxty, Bothy Band, De Dannan, Boys of the Lough and Chieftains.  more info

Kyle Alden, Fairfax House Concert • Mar 4

Local musician, Kyle Alden will promote his new CD, “Down In The West – Vol. 2”. Kyle will be joined by Susan Spurlock and Markie Sanders on upright bass.
The Back Room, Berkeley, CA 94704 on Sat, Mar 4 info

Sharon Shannon • UICC, March 10


The career of accordionist/fiddler Sharon Shannon began with the internationally acclaimed Irish folk/rock group the Waterboys in 1988. While never losing sight of her roots in Irish folk music, she has undertaken a musical journey which includes collaborations with Bono and Adam Clayton, classical violinist Nigel Kennedy, reggae legend Denis Bovell, the Kodo drummers of Japan as well as Steve Earle, Jackson Browne, Emmy-Lou Harris and Alison Krauss.  more

Dervish & Le Vent du Nord • Berkeley, March 16

The seven-member Dervish has risen to the top of their genre over the past ten years, sharing the stage with such popular acts as REM, Sting and Britney Spears in front of a crowd of 250,000 at Brazil’s Rock In Rio music festival. Founded in 1989 by a group of five musicians (Liam Kelly, Shane Mitchell, Martin McGinley, Brian McDonagh and Michael Holmes), Dervish initially came together to record an album of local music, released as The Boys Of Sligo. More than a decade later, four of the original members are still at the helm. more

Colm O’ Riain and Friends, Red Poppy SF • Mar 17

Accomplished Irish-born violinist Colm Ó Riain and musical friends combine the music of Ireland with rhythms and melodies from all over the musical world – jazz, blues, Roma, India, Cuba, Brazil, and much more. Featuring Joe Kyle Jr on bass, Geoff van Lienden on guitar, and
Wade Peterson on percussion. called Ó Riain’s 2016 album, Bridge Across the Blue, co-produced with poet Pireeni Sundaralingam, “one of the Top 7 recordings of poetry and music of all time.” video and ticket info

Patrick Ball, ILHS Banquet • March 19

The ILHS presents their annual St. Patrick’s Banquet on Sunday, March 19 at the Saint Patrick’s Ballroom in the United Irish Cultural Center. This year’s event features harpist and storyteller Patrick Ball, with song and dramatic reading by Esther Mulligan, and music by fiddler, Anne Goess. more

Phil Coulter • March 26

Catch Phil Coulter and special guest Geraldine Brannigan at the UICC.

From Derry, Northern Ireland, Phil has performed with everyone from James Galway and the London Symphony Orchestra to Nanci Griffith and The Blue Moon Orchestra, not to mention Henry Mancini, Elmer Bernstein and Quincy Jones. Tickets at UICC

Young Irelanders • April 9

The Young Irelanders are eight young sensational performers who have Irish traditional music running through their veins. Between them they have performed for many heads of state, as well as the Queen of England and Empress Michiko of Japan. They have performed at Radio City Music Hall, the Great Hall of the People in China, and Kremlin State Palace in Moscow, and have toured as lead performers with Riverdance and Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance. Tickets at UICC website

U2 Joshua Tree Tour, Levi Stadium • May 17

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree and performing the album in full, every night, U2: The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 kicks off in Vancouver on 12th May for a run of dates across North America, ending in July back home to Croke Park in Dublin. They swoop into Santa Clara’s Levi Stadium May 17. Tickets

See calendar page for more listings

Reviews & Sessions


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 seisiuns 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 recent mighty Plough session with special guests Mick Moloney and Athena Tergis (photo Eoin Hobden) See video of regular Sunday session below.

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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