Mudcat Café message #108907 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #13097   Message #108907
Posted By: LaurJ
27-Aug-99 - 01:16 AM
Thread Name: Favorite pubs - tell us about yours
Subject: RE: Favorite pubs - tell us about yours
Jack: re Toronto Unfortunately I haven't been there, but the following URL is to a Toronto Celtic music site, which I found through the Celtic Music in North America: Perhaps it'll a start, if no one responds with better. Let us know what you found!

re: SF Bay Area & the Starry Plough I've been dancing on Monday nights at the Starry Plough (on and off) since '82. The place itself is quite unique and appropriately eclectic. The wonderful irony is that Shay and (part owner?) Frances are about the only Irish who come by.

Some folks come to dance, some to jam, some to play chess, locals to talk - some to watch the dancers others to ignore them. The age range and backgrounds vary so much that anyone feels welcome and unique at the same time. It's a matter of jump in and do as you wish (it's Berkeley after all).

Singing and session on Sunday - of late with Shay, and Brian, a fine fiddler with Cape Breton accent - plus many others. Everyone is truly welcome to sing or play or both, although Shay asks that it be "in the tradition" meaning not one's own song. He also doesn't say which tradition: We've heard some great songs (Finnish, French, Israeli among others) as visitors share, but most tend to be Celtic, with many from the British Isles, or N. America.

Mondays are Irish dancing (and jam) with lessons at 7:00, open dance somewhere around 9:00 or 9:30, and general session (music too fast and dancers generally too tired) sometime around 10:30 until the last musicians leave (often about 1:00 or 2:00). A great Bay Area dance and music enthusiast, Terry O'Neil, died suddenly last December. He was responsible for many of the Irish, Morris and Irish dancers in the area. I pass this on in case any of you knew him, but haven't yet heard.

When I first returned to the Bay Area from the Twin Cities (MN), I ventured from the safe suburb to the border flats between Berkeley and Oakland. At that time, only my forced withdrawal from music pushed me into the neighborhood (which is now safer) and into the Plough. I was immediately assaulted by the political posters and the eclectic clientele. Then, a gregarious 6-ft redhead approached. The next thing I knew I was doing 3's and 7's to the music, making plans for morris, contra, Scandi, English, shanties . . . back in the mainline - and Terry knew it all. After the dancing, I got to talk to the non-dancers. They're patient gems and worthy of a stop without the music.

Both the Sunday and Monday sessions are great experience for newer musicians because there are enough other musicians (usually) and they are inclusive.

The Plough & the stars in SF is a find place for traditional music all nights of the week and a fine place to hang out in an acoustic Irish atmosphere. The session on Sundays, to my mind however, is a bit snobby - but the music is great.

One of my favorite musical pastimes is the Shanty Sing on first Saturday evening of the month at Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco (usually aboard the Balclutha). Should anyone be in town that night, stop by, then wrap it up with an Irish coffee (or other drink of choice) at the Buena Vista, a block away.

For Irish style hangout, and not necessarily music (but sometimes there is), I like O'Reillys on Green Street just above (West in this case) Columbus. Small enough to be cozy, large enough to usually find some place to hide when one wants (and come early enough);friendly folks - mostly local (North Beach) with enough travellers and visitors to keep it fun & interesting, bartenders with great memories and good personalities. A long bar; overflow with tables onto the sidewalk for the Mediterranean feel (if the fog's lifted!) Needless to say: good beers on tap and full bar.

Back to Berkeley: On other nights, The Plough has an open mike (either Tues or Wed), and generally hosts upcoming bands of the area on the other nights. Many then go on to bigger locales after playing at the plough and elsewhere - and some never get much further. Although I haven't been much on other nights, it's usually electric, and I won't even attempt to categorize the music.

Hope this isn't too long.

RFC: Does anyone know of any good places in: Vancouver (BC), Seattle, or (don't laugh) Salt Lake City.