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Click on the pure-drops for band member bios
Jack Gilder  Kevin Bernhagen  Richard Mandel

Photo taken by Rory MacNamara.

THE current configuration of the band has been in place for a few years now starts with, Kevin Bernhagen, who is probably the Bay Area's best Irish fiddler, myself on concertina & flute, and finally, Richard Mandel, adding his unique, and very musical guitar styles. But Tipsy House has been in existence, in some form or another, for about 15 years now.

Tipsy House is probably the longest running Traditonal Irish music group in San Francisco. Started back in 1988 by myself, Scott Renfort and Lief Sorbye. Tipsy House has been the hardest working Irish band in the city and surrounding counties. During that time people have come and gone in the band, and I'll try to give you a brief history here.

In 1993 Scott left, and Paul Chaffee joined the group for a couple of years. After Lief Sorbye left in 1994 to concentrate on his celtic rock band "Tempest", we were treated to a cavalcade of guitarists and singers that included Jon Hicks, Danny Carnahan, Don Clarke, Steve Baughman, Valerie Price, Elisa Welch... who am I leaving out?.

Then Junji Shirota came along everything seemed to calm down nicely in the back-up department. Not that the other's weren't great too, it's just that I found that Junji's guitar playing was just what I was looking for -- delicate, intricate, powerful, brilliant, and very competent. We finally had the sound I was craving for in Irish Traditional music.

When Paul Chaffee peeled away to pursue other musical projects, we had the pleasure of working for a year with fiddle virtuoso, Laura Risk, until she moved to Boston. Then Chris Knepper had his unique way with us for a while doing Contra Dances and such, and when there was too much demand for his talents, we were very lucky to finally have as our fiddler, a musical associate of mine for many years, Kevin Bernhagen.

Junji is now working regularly with his bluegrass band in Japan, and touring with famous

Irish musicians like Paddy Keenan and Andrew MacNamara etc. so he isn't as available except on occasion. This is when Richard Mandel, who had been Junji's substitute, became our primary guitar player.

Once in a while Tipsy House gets a visit from the best bodhran beater I know, Paul Donnelly, and sometimes we're lucky enough to have the well known harpist, Maureen Brennan along with us.

Click here to see the line-up for Tipsy House that we have used for some concerts we have performed in recently.

Well there you have it, the history of Tipsy House in a nutshell. Along with our usual fare, Tipsy House has made a name for itself as a good band for set dancing. For the last couple of years we have been having a great time playing for dances on Thursday nights at the "Plough," and we just completed a CD of the music we arranged for the sets called, "Sets in the City." (see our "recordings" page)
Besides playing at "The Plough & Stars", (hats off to Séan Heaney because if it weren't for the "Plough" we probably wouldn't be able to keep going), we play for weddings, wakes, parties, grand openings, street fairs, special events all around the Bay Area. We aren't only the longest running band, but I think we're the hardest working Irish band in SF as well. If you'd like to see us work sometime, send me an email and I'll put you on our "Tipsy Spam" list.

    Jack Gilder

Sometimes artists come into the Plough and sketch us.
Here's my favorite sketch of yours truly by Patricia M. Ross.

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This site was launched in May, 1999. Webmaster, Jack Gilder © 2003 all rights reserved.