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Celtic Musicians

in the S.F. & Monterey Bay Areas

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Updated: June 25, 2012


Musical Groups

 (Sets in the City)

Tipsy House - Tipsy House is probably the longest running traditional Irish music group in San Francisco started in 1989 by Jack Gilder and Lief Sorbye (now of Tempest/Caliban). There have been numerous members of the group over the years with the current lineup consisting of Jack Gilder on concertina & flute, Kevin Bernhagen on fiddle, and Richard Mandel on guitar.  The group released a new CD, "Sets in the City," in May of 2003. This recording is a tribute to our Thursday night set dances at at the Plough & Stars pub here in San Francisco. We have arranged tunes for the Corofin, West Kerry, and Clare Plain sets... plus a couple of waltzes. Contacts: e-mail Jack Gilder at, phone: (415) 931-9192.
(Jodys Seven album) Jody's Heaven- The San-Francisco trio of Dale Russ (fiddle), Junji Shirota (guitar, banjo bouzouki) and Jack Gilder (concertina, flute, whistle bodhrán) have come up with a real winner with their album Garden of Butterflies. Dirty Linen's review said: "Together, they play blazing reels, relaxed jigs, sprightly hornpipes, and moving airs in spare but thoughtful arrangements that have the airy, light feeling you might expect from a disc with this title. They also put in some set dances, marches, and an infectious set of polkas to add spice....Almost all the tunes are traditional, and the band members have clearly done their homework; a well-crafted album of new arrangements for thoroughly researched music learned from the best players, books and pubs in Irish music. The result is a thoroughly satisfying disc I'm sure I'll return to again and again." Could not have said it better myself. Fair play to you lads. Contacts: e-mail Jack Gilder at, phone: (415) 931-9192.

 (Molly's Revenge)

Molly's Revenge - Molly's Revenge specializes in the traditional music of Ireland, Scotland and England, with occasional side trips to other parts of Europe, plus some of their own compositions. At a Molly's Revenge performance you will be treated to upbeat, lively renditions of traditional Celtic music and song. The band is well known for it's high-energy performances, and their piper regularly intermingles with the audience in the middle of tune sets.      The 4 band members play an assortment of instruments, including guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, Scottish Highland bagpipes, small pipes, border pipes, uilleann pipes, whistles, fiddle, and bodhran, with some great songs thrown in for good measure.
    The band has released three CDs. The Siege Of Delhi (March 2001), Revenge Is Sweet (December 2001), and Live At The Espresso Garden (August 2003). To hear some sample tracks from these CDs and to find out how to buy them online,
click here.  

The Black Brothers - Michael, Shay and Martin Black of the famous Black family of Ireland (sisters = Mary and Francis Black). The brothers are regarded amongst the finest and most popular singers in Ireland. Michael and Shay both live in the Bay Area, and the group is famous for, among other things, their St Patrick's Day concerts at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley. They are noted for their strong voices: Shay's is robust and hearty, Michael's a thrilling tenor, and Martin is known for his deep-chested counter harmonies. Their solos and close harmonies display an unalloyed joy in singing.   "Each brother is a skillful harmony singer with clear solo potential, as heard on "The Black Family" in 1986, the Black Family's "Time for Touching Home" in 1989, and the Black Family's "Our Time Together" in 2004. The brothers also burnished their vocal reputation with their album "What a Time" in 1995 that featured their mother singing lead on a whimsical music-hall ballad, "Now I Have to Call Him Father." (Patty Black sang another music-hall ballad, "A Bird in a Gilded Cage," that concluded the Black Family CD "Our Time Together," released the year after she died.)" Irish Echo

Michael Black recently issued his first solo CD: Michael Black  (Compass Records 2007) to considerable critical acclaim:  "Michael Black is not a garden-variety ballad boomer but a gifted, accomplished, sensitive ballad singer with diverse, discerning taste in songs, and his self-titled solo debut on Compass Records showcases his fine tenor voice to impressive advantage." Irish Echo (2007) "There's enough pristine music tucked inside this solo collection.... to power a rocket. Guitarist and producer John Doyle draws sparkling arrangements together from a stellar cast (including Seamus Egan, Liz Carroll, Chico Huff and Dirk Powell)..." (Irish Times)

(Best of Golden Bough)

Golden Bough, the trio led by Margie Butler on vocals, harp, and tin whistle; Paul Espinoza on vocals, bazouki and guitar, and Kathy Sierra on fiddle, specializes in the traditional Celtic music of Ireland and Scotland. Rooted in the folk music of these lands, they have expanded upon these ethnic styles, developing their own arrangements and compositions, to create a unique style of traditional music. Snail Mail: Golden Bough, P.O. Box 485, Sheridan, OR 97378 , Phone/fax: (503) 843-2152 (or contact Margie Butler: email:


(culann's hounds) Culann's Hounds Culann's Hounds are a traditional Irish band featuring Conall O'Raghallaigh on uillean pipes, Michael Kelleher on guitar, Kevin McDonough on flute and whistle, Frank Jordan on bodhran and vocals and Steve Gardner on fiddle. The Hounds focus their energy on innovative, powerful arrangements of the best tunes around. Songs are rendered in the style of the Clancey Brothers. Their first, self titled album is available at their shows and from their website. Their live shows are exciting and very entertaining."

Celtic Sands - We are a Pacifica based celtic band. We have a new album out (2008)  Wild Horses.  Our playing features edgy virtuoso improvisation and masterful interpretation of traditional Celtic music. Recently we have  performaned at festivals, and on TV and radio, and at esteemed venues throughout the region. Featuring the fiddle, harp and guitar, these versatile musicians play a wide array of instruments, and their energy and love of the music keeps listeners of all ages interested. Sometimes elegant and ethereal, sometimes verging on rock, Celtic Sands bridges traditional Celtic with contemporary musical styles.  Video of a recent TV performance is available on their web page.

(cronan photo) Crónán - is a traditional Irish group consisting of Jack Gilder on concertina & flute, Chris Knepper on fiddle, Junji Shirota on guitar, and vocalist Rebecca Marculescu. Contacts: e-mail Jack Gilder at, phone: (415) 931-9192, or write Jack Gilder, 1711 Leavenworth St. #16, San Francisco, CA 94109.
(Minding Mice at Crossroads)

The Gasmen -- are a lively San Francisco Irish group led by Vincy Keehan on mandolin.  Vincy Keehan, (mandolin,guitar,vocals) comes from County Galway and has lived in San Francisco since 1982. As well as playing mandolin, Vincy has composed many songs and hosts a very popular singing session at The Plough and Stars Pub once a month. Kenny Somerville, ( banjo,guitar,vocals) comes from County Fermanagh and moved to San Francisco in 1993. Kenny started out playing guitar and singing at the popular holiday destination of Bundoran, County Donegal. Cormac Gannon, (bodhran,vocals) comes from County Mayo and has lived in the Bay Area since 1991. He began playing in sessions while living in England. Cormac also has the distinct pleasure of trying to organize the affairs of The Gas Men (Minding Mice at Crossroads). Vinny Cronin, (flute,whistles,vocals) comes from Boston and moved to San Francisco in 1978. Vinny began playing with his dad, well known fiddler, Paddy Cronin and his uncle Johnny Cronin. Barry O' Connell, (accordion,vocals) from County Cork moved to the Bay Area in 2000. Barry started out playing sessions in his native Cork. John Caulfield, (fiddle,mandolin,vocals) has been in many bands and has played gigs with Johnny Moynihan in Amsterdam, Dublin and New York, where he moved to with his family from County Louth. Since moving to the Bay Area, John has played with The Mild Colonial Boys, 42 and The Core.  (The group was known as Órla and the Gasmen until 2002 when Órla and Richard moved back to Ireland, after making a great CD with the band -- Minding Mice at Crossroads,1998, Gas Men MUSIC).

Cooking with Turf - A traditional Irish band located in the San Jose area. The band currently sonsists of fiddle, hammer dulcimer, Irish flute and guitar. We  play jigs, reels, and other music to dance to, and we can conjure up a good song and maybe a bit of the traditional Irish step dance as well!  Our musical influences include: Dervish, Lunasa, Altan, Danu, DeDannan, Kevin Burke, Matt Molloy, Theo Paige, George Grasso, Dave Cory, Téada, Liz and Yvonne Kane, The Mulcahy Family, Frankie Gavin, and the list goes on!

We are available to play at your event, indoors or out, plugged in or acoustic! Book early for: St.Patrick's Day, International, Celtic, or Irish Fairs, Highland Games, Company Parties or Community Events.  We can be frequently be found at the traditional Irish session at O'Flaherty's Pub in San Jose on Tuesdays. e-mail:  (408) 422-1463 or (209) 768-8651
(Traditional Music from Clare) Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin-- S.F's concertina master and historian of traditional celtic music, now in Kansas City. Gearóid has two excellent CDs out -- pictured here is: Traditional Music from Clare and Beyond. His new album, TRACIN'with New York fiddler Patrick Ourceau is brilliant. From the first listen, this music "fits" like your absolutely favorite piece of clothing. The music is very intimate, consisting mainly of concertina, fiddle, and some fine piano playing by guests such as Felix Dolan and Barbara Macdonald Magone. The playing by all concerned is exquisite and wonderfully sensitive to local styles. The aim is to take the listener to a kitchen in east Co. Clare or Co. Galway. Put the CD on, make a pot of tea, close your eyes, and its easy to imagine being there. Superb liner notes too. (Very, very highly recommended) Contact Gearóid via Celtic Crossings at
(Against the Tide) Distant Oaks--an award-winning Celtic and Early Music ensemble based in the San Francisco Bay Area, features family members Deborah, Jared, and Shayne White. Their performances feature:
  • Deborah White: Vocals in English and Gaelic, Guitar, Cittern, Dulcimer,
  • Citole Jared White: Recorders, Irish Whistle, Scottish Smallpipes, Uilleann Pipes, Krummhorn, and Bodhrán
  • Shayne White: Celtic Harp and Scottish Step-dancing
Distant Oaks' extended musical family includes such fine musicians as Shira Kammen (fiddle), John Creager (Scottish smallpipes), Kevin Toney (bodhrán, bones), Julie Jeffrey (viola da gamba), Paul Kotapish (mandolin, guitar), and Peter Maund (percussion).
Since its inception in 1992, Distant Oaks has performed regularly at Scottish games and gatherings, Celtic festivals, concerts, plays, fairs, wineries, and other special events throughout the Western United States – and more recently in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and the west of Ireland. In addition to several local television and radio appearances, their music and dance was the subject of a 1998 feature story on Fox Television’s Our Town. Distant Oaks’ unique sound reflects their training in early music (Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque), together with their expertise in the field of traditional music – thus “inspiring a real sense of ancient beauty,” as one reviewer described it. Distant Oaks has produced two compact disc recordings to date: Dance to Bright Steel (1994) and Empty your heart of its mortal dream (1996) — the more recent of which has been selected for airplay by BBC Scotland. Both recordings may be ordered directly from Northern Wind Recordings.  
broceliande Broceliande plays Celtic music from the British isles and the Medieval and Renaissance music of the European courts, castles, and countrysides. Featuring vocal and instrumental harmonies, their sound is built on the interweaving of up to 4-part vocals with the lyrical music of the Celtic harp, octave mandolin, cello, guitar, flutes, whistles, percussion, harmonica, and melodian. Their repertoire includes original arrangements of traditional and Early music and ranges from driving, danceable Celtic beats to haunting, harp-based ballads. Their lyrics, including some in Medieval French and Portuguese, speak of love and longing, quests and revels, magic and transformation, in an evocative style in the same vein as Loreena McKennitt, Clannad, and Alan Stivell. The band features Margaret Davis (vocals, Celtic harp, flute, recorders), Karl Franzen (octave mandolin, guitar, vocals, whistle, harmonica, melodian, hand-drum), Kristoph Klover (vocals, guitars, octave mandolin), and Kris Yenney (cello, viol, vocals, percussion).Broceliande was founded in 1999, but the members of Broceliande have been performing together since 1993.
  Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, we play for weddings, corporate functions, houseconcerts, faires, dances (dance master is extra), clubs and concerts, parties or rituals: anywhere a doorway to the muse is required.
Greenhouse from Petaluma combines traditional Irish and British Isles music with contemporary and original material to create a style that is "respectful of the tradition while maintaining a decidedly non-purist approach. Acoustic guitar, fiddle, mandolin and tin whistle meet with percussion, didgeridoo and vocal harmonies in a Celtic Folk Fusion that is sometimes mellow, sometimes hard-driving, but always interesting and eminently listenable." Since its inception in 1991, Greenhouse has been entertaining audiences with their blend of lively jigs and reels, tender ballads, and rousing pub songs. Their first recording "Shelter Cove" was released in 1995 and their new CD "I Lie Awake" came out in March of 2000. For Event/Booking Information 707/525-9462 . (more sound samples and info)

(Camogie picture)

Camogie is a new band with a Celtic Americana flavour. The band is comprised of Mary Mc Laughlin on vocals and keyboards, Danny Carnahan on mandola, fiddle, guitar and vocals, Robin Flower on mandolin, fiddle, guitar and vocals, Libby Mc Laren on piano, accordion and vocals. All these performers have toured and recorded extensively over the years and are highly respected on the Celtic / Americana scene. The band plays mostly original compositions (all members are composers) with a few traditional Irish and Gaelic songs - the hallmarks are exciting arrangements, lush vocal harmonies, four lead performers and lots of fun ! e-mail:

 (Rosin The Bow)

Rosin the Bow (based in the Mt.View/Palo Alto area) is an Irish Celtic, British, and American traditional music group comprising Alan Keith, Gary Breitbard, Pat Ryan, and alternately Karl Franzen. The melodies and songs presented by them have been gathered from the traditional sources of such countries and regions as Ireland, Scotland, Northumberland, England, Wales, Canada and the United States. The tunes played include a mixture of Irish jigs, reels, slides, polkas, planxtys and airs, Northumbrian rants, rounds and hornpipes, Scottish marches and strathspeys, English Morris and country dance tunes, British and French Canadian country dances and American hoedowns. The songs are about the usual subjects of love, rejection, war, brawling, drinking and dancing. The instruments used in the arraingements are grouped according to the region in which they might be traditionally played, and can include fiddle, tin whistles, melodian (diatonic button accordion), piano accordion, banjo, Scottish Highland and Border bagpipes, acoustic guitar and electric and acoustic bass guitars. Percussion instruments can include the bodran (Irish frame drum), bones and spoons.The members are:  Alan Keith-melodian, whistles and pipes; Gary Breibard-fiddle, accordion, banjo and vocals; and Karl Franzen-guitar, octave mandola and vocals.For booking and information about music guaranteed to keep your toes tappin', contact Alan at (650) 964-5279 or

Celtic Rock:

(Generally not my cup of tea, being a curmudgeon, but these groups do carry on the tradition in their own way.)

Tempest   Since forming in 1988, Tempest has delivered a globally-renowned hybrid of high-energy folk rock fusing Irish reels, Scottish ballads, Norwegian influences and other world music elements. The last 19 years have seen the San Francisco Bay Area-bsed act release twelve critically acclaimed CDs and play more than 2,000 gigs. It’s also enjoyed an evolving line-up that’s enabled its musicianship and creativity to rise with each new member-something highlighted by the group’s current roster.

Two members of the group have  formed an acoustic group called Caliban.

Avalon Rising - based in Oakland, CA, Celtic rock band Avalon Rising is known for its unique sound -- a blend of original rock, Celtic, and Medieval music. Their rich melodic acoustic/electric sound features brilliant male and female vocals over intricate instrumental arrangements, supported by a vibrant Middle Eastern and Celtic-flavored rhythmic background. Their line-up includes: electric and acoustic guitars, electric violin, Celtic harp, flute, bass, mandocello, drums, and vocals. With a repertoire that includes both original and traditional songs and ranges in feel from driving, danceable primal beats to haunting, atmospherically lovely harp-based ballads, Avalon Rising will enchant and excite you. Their lyrics, including some in Medieval French and Portuguese, speak of love and longing, quests and revels, magic and transformation, in a magical, evocative style in the same vein as Loreena McKennitt, Dead Can Dance, and Renaissance with touches of Jethro Tull and the Grateful Dead. Avalon Rising has been performing in the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest for twelve years at clubs, festivals, pubs, benefits, and conventions. Festival performances include the Health & Harmony Festival, the Squaw Valley Celtic Festival, the High Sierra Music Festival, the Mammoth Lakes Celtic Festival, and the Avery Ranch Folk Festival. Their CDs are distributed internationally by Goldenrod, Serpentine Music, Abyss Distribution,, CD Baby, and Flowinglass Music, and have received many favorable reviews.

Céilí Bands:


The Bridge Gap Ceili Band has been an integral part of the S.F.'s Cooley-Keegan Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann since its founding.  Members of the band also play as The Shannon Céilí Band. The group consists of :Miliosa Lundy (maiden name McWeeney) from county Leitrim on accordion and concertina. Richard Lundy plays tenor banjo, mandolin, and guitar among other instruments. Lew Milligan on fiddle, John Sherry  plays fiddle (and can be found at The Plough and Stars in San Francisco many Sundays for the session), John Sweeney on fiddle, Barbara Southworth on piano.  They are joined many times by fine piano accordionist Frank Rooney.

(Golden Gate Ceili Band and Ireland's 32)

The Golden Gate Ceili Band made its grand debut on March 9, 2003! We will be playing for set dancing at Ireland's 32 in San Francisco and Geary every 2nd and 4th Sunday night, from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m. The band consists of Michael Riemer on flute, Oceanlight on fiddle and Angeline LeLeux on piano. Michael Murphy will be calling the dances, which will generally be a mix of both ceili and set. For more information, contact Angeline LeLeux.


The Shannon Céilí Band, an subset of the Bridge Gap Ceili Band plays for the set dancers at the Plough and Stars in San Francisco the first Thursday of every month.


The Fox On The Town - a new band We will play for Contra Dances, Ceílís, Set Dancers, Pub Gigs, Weddings, Wakes or Parties. For more information, please contact Angeline LeLeux.


Solo performers:


(a drop of the pure) Steve Baughman - a drop of the pure (Tall Tree Records, San Francisco) Steve, a superb guitarist from San Francisco, has an eclectic interest in Celtic music, and this album contains Irish, Scottish, American and Breton tunes. Steve's playing reflects nicely the sentiment of the tunes without being the least maudlin. "Steve's technique is impeccable. He offers us an album of transcended guitar music with heart and spirit." -Pierre Bensusan, Chateau Thierry, France
(my heart belongs to jenny) Duck Baker- my heart belongs to jenny (June 2000), a collection of Irish tunes arranged for solo guitar. Duck is an exceptionally talented fingerstyle guitarist who plays a wide variety of music including jazz and blues. He has a particular love of traditional Irish tunes of which this album is a sample. Duck is also a guitar teacher (see below) For more information call (510) 237-8804.
(Celtic Sessions cover) William Coulter is a fine guitarist from the Santa Cruz area. Pictured is his "solo" album Celtic Sessions (Gourd Music, 1998).






(Chris Caswell photo)

Chris Caswell is one of the world's finest players and makers of the Celtic harp. He is also a respected performer on the Scottish bagpipes, the Irish flute and tinwhistle, and the bodhran. Chris is a true Celtic bard, weaving a fierce beauty through intense playing and delight.  As he plays, his music is informed by the Middle East, Latin America, the French countryside – anywhere from which his deep experience can move the listener towards the realm of resonance wherein our true hearts abide.

HOLY WOOD (2001) is Chris's solo album, performed on his hauntingly beautiful Bronze-strung harp.  It is a mix of the popular and eclectic from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England and France.  Celtic Tidings (1999) is Chris's Christmas CD.  Both feature Barry Phillips on Cello, Deby Benton Grosjean on violin, and others.  He is on over thirty recordings, including Bonnie Rideout's multi-award-winning Give Me Elbow Room and Grammy-nominated Kindred Spirits.  Chris was a featured artist with Bonnie’s national A Scottish Christmas tour, 1998-99 and Live from the National Geographic, 1997. Chris recorded three albums and toured North America and Europe with Robin Williamson and His Merry Band, beginning in 1976.  In 1980 he formed Caswell Carnahan with Danny Carnahan and recorded two albums (re-released in 1995).

As a harp maker, Chris is known for blending tradition and innovation.  Caswell Harps has made over 650 high-end harps since 1977. Also an engineer, his Gargoyle Recordings currently boasts ten ethnic titles.  He has produced and composed for film and broadcast video.  He has held harp retreats throughout the country, and taught at numerous music camps.  He has a popular instructional bodhran video.

Chris is co-founder of the Sebastopol Celtic Festival. He has been National Chairman of the Scottish Harp Society of America, and a member of the Judges Panel of the Western United States Pipe Band Association.  He studied pipes with Donald MacPherson at the College of Piping in Glasgow and later with Donald Shaw Ramsay.  He was Pipe Major of the City of Petaluma Pipe Band for many years.  He studied harp with Allison Kinnaird in Edinburgh, and worked with folklorist Peter Kennedy in Devon, England.  He was a music composition major at San Francisco State and more recently studied composition with Allaudin Mathieu. Chris can be contacted at



Margaret Davis - Celtic, Medieval, and Renaissance harper and singer. Margaret can be reached at or by phone: (510) 569-0437.

(Ba Lily Wean album cover)  Adria-- Adria is a professional singer and Celtic harpist. Raised in Aberdeen, Scotland, Adria performs a lot of traditional Scottish material and well as original material. Her concerts include history and a little beginner Doric (the language/dialect peculiar to the Northeast coast -- a mix of old Norse, Gaelic, English, French and German). E-mail at; my telephone number is (510) 334-7816 .
  Mary Hopkins - celtic and classical harp, performance and instruction, P.O. Box 475102, San Francisco, CA 94147 (Phone: 707-937-4324, 415-646-0612)

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Music Agents:

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Music Teachers:

We have a fair number of instructors in the area, and many of them are listed below. Not all of them specialize in Irish music, but the basics can be learned, technique improved, or to simply learn something new. This list is organized by instrument.

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Local Record Labels:

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