The Plough And The Stars

123 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Nineteen comments

The Plough and The Stars

This pub is likely the friendliest pub in North America. The players are patient and kind to beginners, as I found out the first time I went. This time of year the session is illuminated by a zillion lights hanging on the Christmas tree which is right behind the session, giving it a nice, festive mood. The smell of pine and cigarette smoke makes for an asthmatics worse nightmare, but it’s a great place with friendly people and good food. See you there! : )

Posted by .

I forgot to mention that we have several fiddlers, two fluters, a guitarist, a keyboardist, a bodhran player, a whistler, and a concertina player.

Posted by .

Hi Timmy! I’m from the Phila. area, too–last time I attended this session was a year ago–I am maybe an advanced beginner, and I was very intimidated. Is it *really* beginner friendly? Do John and John still run this session? They are very nice guys, by the way–but I felt left in the dust as the tunes whizzed by.

Posted by .

The Plough and The Stars

Highly recommend anyone who wants a good session in the Phila area to try the Friday nights at the Irish Center. Great place to learn and very relaxed atmosphere, usually a nice variety of instruments and just a little more laid back than the P&S. Andee, have you ever been to that one? I think you’d like it.

The Plough and The Stars

Sorry, didn’t mean to leave you out, timmy–I think you should try it too!

Hi Maderinerue–I’ve been meaning to get to that one–haven’t been there yet. I really will make an effort to–it’s just not as convenient for me since I am somewhat limited to public trans. Since I’m in Bryn Mawr that means a train into the city and then a train out of the city to the Irish Center. But it can be done. How about The Bards session? Do you like that one?

Posted by .

Andee, haven’t been to the Bards yet–have to try it sometime. I think there’s a session in Havertown once a month somewhere on Route 3 (West Chester Pike) that might be more accessible. When I was trying to figure out public trans to the Irish Center, the last train back to the city left about an hour after the session started, so that didn’t work too well.

I’ve been to the Plough & Stars just a couple of times. I like the kinda fast pace. I’m pretty much a beginner myself, but I want to learn from the best. Everyone there is supportive, and it’s a fun place to be, even though I do spend more time listening than playing.
I don’t know too many names yet, but the current leader is a keyboard player named Fiona.
Madeinrue - I’ve heard about the Commodore Barry. It seems to be extremly popular, is it too crowded?
The session in Havertown is in a pub called Paddy Rooney’s. It’s on the 1st Monday of every month. I haven’t been there, and so don’t know what it’s like. Their email address is

Posted by .

Timmy–thanks for getting back to me–I’ll most likely check it out again soon.
Maderinerue–Yeah, I forgot about the Paddy Rooney’s one–Definitely more convenient for me.

Posted by .

Timmy–I’ve never felt it was overcrowded. The session players aren’t jammed in as close together at the Commodore Barry, so even when there are a lot of people you still have room to move (particularly important to fiddlers). Softer chairs, too–another important factor! There is also a fireplace there and some cigarette smoke, but more ventilation. Not that I would discourage you from the Plough and Stars–you’re right that they are great players there and friendly, and you will definitely learn! You will see some of the same faces at the CB.

Irish Center sessions in Phily

I would like more information on the Friday sessions at the Irish Center in Phily. Where is it? Is it open to the public? WHat time? Etc. I’ll be in Phily this weekend and I’m looking forward to some nice sessions. Thanks

Still a session?

Is this still a session? Judging by the last couple times I’ve been by, it seems to be an amplified gig format.

Plough & Stars, Philadelphia

I am not sure if the author of the previous post was in the right pub on the wrong day or the wrong pub on the right day. Amplified? Gig format? If the author actually sat in for a few tunes, I am not sure how he / she could have gotten that impression. The Sunday Plough session has NEVER been amplified in the 9 years of my irregular attendance. There was a brief experiment with radio mikes on two occasions I was there, but it never progressed beyond that. The Plough owners have generously supported the Sunday session for years and it remains a high quality session. It is usually led by the ever entertaining and talented John McGillian on the button box. If you are a beginner or an intermediate player, the Plough may be less intimidating in terms of repertoire and tempo than Fergie’s on Saturday. Not a gig, not amplified, just a friendly, open, easy-going session of good music and occasional song. The time of the session is normally Sunday 5 - 9PM, but may begin earlier or later during sports season. So you might want to make sure of the time if you plan to visit.

Schedule of session

Someone needs to post the times of the session for the P&S on the site. Currently the page shows the location and that its on a Sunday but no times.
Al Cofrin

Schedule of Session

I see that the session starts 5-9pm. Is this still the case?

Session @ Plough

Yes! Session still 5-9 PM.

Re: The Plough And The Stars

Still 5-9pm in 2018.

Posted by .

Plough and the Stars

This session is held every Sunday evening from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Beginners to advanced levels are welcome.

Re: The Plough And The Stars

Plough and the stars had sessions Sundays from 4pm-8pm. Very friendly and a good session.

I would say it’s an intermediate to advanced session.