Nine to midnight
I hear a lot of good stuff about this session. I’m going to try my best to be there next Sunday, when i’m in town. See you there?
This session usually attracts fairly, some very high calibre players, but it can get quite rowdy in the pub and interfere with the music. I’ve been there a few times over the years and not enjoyed it as much as I should have because of the din created by the punters (God bless them — every pub needs them). Still, it’s always worth a visit. But get there earlyish if you want to get close to the centre of the action.
Thanks, i will. It’s my only shot anyway. I thought San Francisco would be festering with sessions everywhere, but this one was the only one i was able to locate.
I believe there is another session in "The Starry Plough" (yes, apparently a different bar with confusingly similar name) in Oakland (?). Never been there myself, so can’t supply any info. Your timing is unfortunate as the west coast Pipers Tionol is on in SF the weekend of 14-16th Feb — it’s usually good craic with musicianers drifting in from LA, Seattle, Portland and parts in between.
Plough and Stars, Starry Plough
I made it to the Plough and Starts. It’s a surprisingly small pub (i was expecting bigger, from their reputation). The pictures on the wall are a true "who’s who" in Irish music: Paddy Keenan, Mary Shannon, Paul Brady, you pick anyone you know, he or she probably played there at least a couple of times.
Sessions are rumoured to be very good too, but it got there on an off day. Other than an excellent flute and bodhran player (the core group paid by the pub to get things going), nobody else showed up, until another flute and bodhran player showed up much later. So we ended up trading sets.
Still a nice place, in the middle of what’s now a Vietnamese neighborhood, across the street, in fact, from a great little French Vietnamese restaurant called Le Soleil.
The Starry Plough… i asked. Apparently, the 2 pubs were started by the same people. That one is in Berkeley, and it has sessions and also dancing. I won’t be able to go there this time, though.
Plough and Stars Schedule - there’s more!
Glad you made it, Glauber! Wish I could have been there…
There is also a regular Session at the Plough on Tuesday evenings, the one I prefer to attend if I am able. (San Francisco is a 2 hour drive from where I live.)
The Tuesday Session tends to be smaller, quieter and with less background noise. (Well, if you bring your minidisc, you’ll still hear the pool table clacking away in the background) Always good craic!
In addition, the Plough features Irish dancing every Thursday: Ceili on the 1st Thurs of each month, Sets on the remaining Thursdays. The dance evenings feature live music, so it’s a good evening to drop in and hear a few tunes played by San Francisco’s finest Irish musicians. The dancers are top notch - visitors are welcome to join in, but you’d better know your sets!
Plough & Stars is my local
I guess I might be qualified to update you on what to expect if you visit the Plough for a session. The hosts change every night (rotating sort of) and it won’t be the same on any regular night except for the two special sessions. (See below) The sessions happen on Sundays and Tuesdays. The second to the last Tuesday is a "slow session" and the last one is a "song session."
The bar noise isn’t as bad as it was in the past on account of a drop in punter population due to the economy being so bad right now. Of course it only takes one girl laughing real loud, or one guy who wants the whole bar to hear the details of how interesting he is, to wreck the atmosphere, but over all, the crowd isn’t as intense these days. The crowd even seems to have gotten used to "shushing" for the odd song, and a lot of folks come in because they enjoy the music.
The sessions tend to have anywhere from 3 or 4, to maybe 12 people at the most. Most all the hosts are friendly and inviting, but there’s a big hairy one that looks like some kind of beast who
I was at a session at the Plough on Saturday afternoon. It was small but fun… Some weirdos in "the audience," though, and basically the waitress told us it was time to stop by turning on the jukebox while we were playing. That bothered me.
BTW, Jack, d’you know a fluter named Suki? If so, PLEASE tell her I said hello, I met her at a session a year or so ago and quite enjoyed talking to her.
What a great time!
I was visiting the area and stopped by this session. Pat Egan and Tim Britton were there, as well as an old friend from college. The dynamics of the session were perfect… just the right amount of tunes, no one dominating, just enough talk. Thanks to everyone for your warm hospitality.
San Francisco Sessions
searching the site this seems to come up fairly often but wanted to verify a few things. I’ll be in San Francisco week after next. It appears that the only session is at the Plough and Stars on Sunday nights. The entry here says it’s on Tuesdays but after looking at the P&S website I think that is incorrect.
So, my questions. What time does the session start? Is it fairly casual? I probably won’t bring my pipes along but will bring a whistle to be a bit more unobtrusive. Any other Irish music thingies going on in San Fran between Oct. 26th and Nov. 2nd? Thanks!
A MIGHTY session last night, am a guitar player from Dublin, Ireland (that’ll give me away immediately), found the session welcoming, lively, of exceptional standard and, best of all, the licensing laws are not so stringent in the US! Wish I could head next Sunday! On another note, I feel sorry for anyone who heads there and wants to do any work on Monday, especiallly players!
There is no longer a slow session on the third Tuesday.
I might add that there is a song session on the last Tuesday of the month from 9pm until depends. Irish sessions every Sunday and Tuesday. Set dancing to live music on Thursday. Various odd special sessions as well.
The acoustics can sometimes be challenging. What else is new?
Just visited this session on a Sunday night. Very high standard players, great tunes.
Plough and Stars has to be one of the legendary places for a session. Very high level of musicianship, spontaneous "party pieces", great craic and a friendly atmosphere that actually quieted down when a singer started up. It may not be like this every time, but it was clear that this is not unusual.
This was my first time here and I will be back when I am in town (which may be every ten years.) Sunday and Tuesday sessions. Go to the web site to learn who is leading the session.
I didn’t see it posted, so I’m updating it here.
The last Tuesday is no longer a song session. It’s a tune session.
Also, (and Jack can correct me if it’s no longer the case) the start time of the Sunday and Tuesday sessions are now 8-11pm.
Thanks for the tunes guys
I called in here with Jack and his friends in Jan 2016 whilst on honeymoon in San Francisco. Enjoyed a couple of sets with them with the lend of a fiddle, thanks to the excellent D’arcy. Lovely tunes and as good a pint of Guinness as I’ve had outside Ireland. Keep ‘er lit lads!
Re: The Plough And Stars
The sessions are indeed 8 pm to 11 pm now. I made a Facebook page for last minute updates and other information.
Re: The Plough And Stars
I had the pleasure of being around for both the Sunday and Tuesday sessions and they were both great!
The Tuesday night was a bit loud for a while but once the more boisterous people left, there was great enjoyment to be had.
Everyone was very welcoming, especially Phantom Button who made sure I had a lovely time.
If you’re ever in San Francisco, definitely pop along for one of the sessions if you can!