Gig! Friday 6 to 9pm — August 29 — McNally’s Irish Pub (Oakland)


screen-capture-3Bill McNally’s Irish Pub 

5352 College Avenue, Oakland
(510) 655-3929
no cover



The Starry Session – Sunday, August 31 – 8 to midnight (Berkeley)


The Elderberries will host the long-running session of traditional Irish music at Berkeley’s Starry Plough.

Many thanks to Shay Black for his invitation and inspiration.


3101 Shattuck Avenue (at Prince Street) in Berkeley

Sunday nights at The Starry Plough are a rare, wonderful, old-world scene with great food, drink, & energy.

No cover — All toddlers welcome until the restaurant closes at 10pm (then 21+).

“The bears are especially appreciative . . . .”


Common Elder, Sambucus glauca

(shown here in Claremont Canyon with dried flowers and swelling fruits)



From The Wild Flowers of California by Mary Elizabeth Parsons, 1955

The elder is one of our most widely distributed shrubs, and is a familiar sight upon almost every open glade or plain. It is especially abundant in the south. Its flower-clusters, made up of myriads of tiny cream-white blossoms, make a showy but delicate and lacelike mat, while its berries are beautiful and inviting. The bears are especially appreciative of these, and we have sometimes seen their footprints leading along a lonely mountain road to the elder-berry bushes, The fruit is prized by our housewives for pies and preserves, and it would doubtless make as good wine as that of the Eastern species.

Among the Spanish-Californians the blossoms are known as “sauco” and are regarded as an indispensable household remedy for colds. They are administered in the form of a tea, which induces a profuse perspiration. It is said that Dr. Boerhaave held the elder in such reverence for the multitude of its virtues that he always removed his hat when he passed it.


In ancient times the elder was the subject of many strange superstitions. In his interesting book, The Folk-Lore of Plants, Mr. Thistleton Dyer says that it was reputed to be possessed of magic power, and that any baptized person whose eyes had been anointed with the green juice of its inner bark could recognize witches anywhere. Owing to these magic properties, it was often planted near dwellings to keep away evil spirits. By making a magic circle and standing within it with elder-berries gathered on St. John’s Night, the mystic fern-seed could be secured which possessed the strength of forty men and enabled one to walk invisible . . . .


ps. You’ll want to learn more about St. John’s Night here: