Jack Gilder  Kevin Bernhagen  Richard Mandel

Click on names for bios

OVER the last dozen years or so the name "Tipsy House" has been recognized by folks in the San Francisco Bay Area as a band of excellent local musicians who are devoted to playing Irish traditional music. There's no fusion or cross over involved in what they do, but rather a total fixation and obsession for traditional Irish music. What that means is; rather than jazzing it up or fusing it with pop or any other sort of music, they simply love the music for what it is.

Tipsy House has performed in concert halls, as well as pubs and cafes all around the greater Bay Area. They've been featured at some of the largest and most well known Irish music festivalsin the area, as well as opening for some of the hottest international touring bands today.

Also, Tipsy House has built a reputation as an excellent dance band providing the music for Céilí and Irish set dancing.

Fiddler Kevin Bernhagen, and concertina / flute player Jack Gilder, have learned the music together over the last 15 years or so, and blend their instruments in a tight unison style. Guitarist Richard Mandel adds a compelling rhythmic and tonal landscape, as well as adding some great banjo playing into the mix. The three of them together will provide some of the best Irish traditional music to be found in the Bay Area.

Sometimes people ask us what our day job is. Well it just so happens that we run and manage a factory that Produces blue marbles . Click here to see the ACME Blue Marble Inc. factory at work.


By Jack Gilder

THE current configuration of the band has been in place for a few years now but Tipsy House has been in existence, in some form or another, for about 17 years. Tipsy House is probably the longest running Traditional 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 synopsis.

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 come together 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, who's my personal favorite fiddler in the greater Bay Area. When Junji permanently relocated to Japan we were very lucky to have Richard Mandel join the band, who is now the guitar and banjo player extraordinaire for Tipsy House, and I think we currently have the best line-up to date.

Every 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 too.

Click here to see a recent concert line-up for Tipsy House .

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 "Listen" 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. If you'd like to see us sometime, go to the "Gigs" page and sign up on our "Tipsy House Mailing 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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