Our spring 2022 classes are underway (see our Class Descriptions and Registration pages) for more information.
Also, we are so thrilled to announce that registration is open for some special IN-PERSON workshops with the amazing Kevin Crawford of the trad supergroup Lúnasa, on Sunday May 1. Kevin will offer a workshop for intermediate/advanced flute players, and also a workshop open to all intermediate/advanced melody players at the Academy space (431 Hartford Ave, Wethersfield). Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to learn from one of the tradition’s very best ! See below for Kevin’s impressive biography.
To register, please click here for a word document, or here for a PDF.
Male Musician of the Year 2013 Kevin Crawford, LiveIreland.com
“Many trad fans say that Lúnasa’s flute player, Kevin Crawford, is the best in the tradition. You would be hard put to find anyone who would disagree with that. He, too, has been a force in the music since his days with the iconic, Moving Cloud. One of the most prolific of all Irish flute players, everything he touches turns to aural gold. A master. We are lucky to have him. You can hear him in his most recent outing with his solo album, Carrying the Tune. He could and should win this for every album he has ever been on.” – Bill Margeson
Kevin Crawford was born in Birmingham, England on December 6, 1967, to Irish immigrant parents from Miltown Malbay, Co Clare. An industrial town, Birmingham has long had a vibrant Irish community and its music was an important part of Kevin’s upbringing as his parents were great music lovers. Indeed, Kevin recalls how his father sang around the house and played whistle and how his mother organized annual summertime pilgrimages home to Clare, where he was first exposed to master musicians like flute player P. J. Crotty, uilleann piper Seán Talty, and fiddler Eamonn McGivney, and where he first heard flute player Josie Hayes and fiddler Junior Crehan together for the first time. More than anything else, it was the sound of these two legends, Hayes and Crehan, that inspired Kevin’s deep, abiding love for traditional music, and it led him head first into the deep end of Birmingham’s music scene.
Back in England, Kevin learned about traditional music from host of influential Irish musicians who had immigrated, like fiddlers Pat Molloy (Connemara) and Tony Neylon (Clare), accordionist Brendan Boyle (Fermanagh), and flute players Patsy Moloney (Limerick). In those days, the city full with talented, young players and it wasn’t long before Kevin became part of Long Acre, a band that included Kevin, Brendan Boyle, fiddle player Mick Conneely, banjoist Joe Molloy, vocalist Bernadette Davis, and guitar and bouzouki player Ivan Miletitch. Long Acre toured all over the United Kingdom and Ireland and gave Kevin his first taste of traditional music’s wider world.
Inspired, Kevin took a leap of faith in 1989 and moved to Co. Clare, which quickly became his adopted home. He found fertile ground in the Banner County’s legendary session scene and eventually became a member of two important groups of the time, Grianán (1991) and Raise the Rafters (1995), both of which contained top young players and made albums that were well-received by local writers. It was during this time, too, that he recorded his critically acclaimed solo debut, ‘D’ Flute Album (1994). In addition, he appeared on several of the day’s revered albums, including the live session album Maiden Voyage (1991) recorded at Pepper’s Bar in Feakle, Co. Clare; the album The Sound of Stone: Artists for Mullaghmore (1993) which was produced in conjunction with the Burren Action Group to save Mullaghmore mountain from development; the live session album The Sanctuary Sessions (1994) recorded at Cruises Pub in Ennis, Co. Clare; singer Seán Tyrrell’s Cry of a Dreamer (1994); and legendary button accordion player Joe Derrane’s The Tie That Binds (1998).
However, Kevin wasn’t simply a noted performer in the 1990s, he contributed to the life of Irish music in other ways as well. For example, from 1995-1999, he hosted a popular radio program for the radio station Clare-FM that featured the best in traditional music. Further, he was part of the selection panel that decided Irish language television station TG4’s Gradam awards scheme, an event that culminates in a nationally-televised annual awards ceremony celebrating the best in traditional music. This important service work not only benefitted musicians in Clare, but those from all parts of Ireland and her diaspora.
Despite his renown in Ireland, it wasn’t until Kevin was invited to join the seminal group Moving Cloud in 1993 that he received his first real measure of international recognition. Led by noted button accordion player Paul Brock, Moving Cloud toured extensively, and with them Kevin recorded two critically acclaimed albums, Moving Cloud (1995) (which was named “Album of the Year” by New York City’s Irish Echo newspaper), and Foxglove (1998). In 1997, however, a new opportunity presented itself when Irish supergroup Lúnasa asked Kevin to accompany them on a tour of Australia. His talent and energy as a musician and a “front man” brought so much to the band that he was asked to join as a permanent member, which he eventually did. It paid immediate dividends: Otherworld (1999), his first album with the group, was heralded by critics and named “Album of the Year” by the Irish Echo newspaper. Its follow up, The Merry Sisters of Fate (2001) was named Celtic Album of the Year by the Association for Independent Music and ranked #3 on the Irish Echo’s “Album of the Year” list.
Moreover, 2001 was also the year Kevin released In Good Company, his second solo album. A huge artistic success, it not only influenced a generation of flute players in a way no one had since Matt Molloy’s groundbreaking work in the 1970s, but that year the Irish Echo named it its “Album of the Year” and Kevin its “Traditional Artist of the Year.” Truly a banner time for this man so rooted in the Banner County’s music.
Kevin’s strong work with Lúnasa continued into the early 2000s. Redwood, released in 2003, got robust reviews from critics with one the group’s live shows in support of the album named “Best Live Performance” at the 2003 Quebec City Summer Festival in Canada. Their 2004 follow up album The Kinnitty Sessions built on the group’s success substantially. While the BBC Radio 2 Awards named The Kinnitty Sessions their “Best Folk Album” award and Irish Music Magazine named it its “Best Traditional Album,” the Meteor Music Awards named Lúnasa its “Best Traditional Band from Ireland” for the year. The renown their success yielded led to an invitation to perform for a group of European Union Ministers at Kinnitty Castle during Ireland’s six-month Presidency of the EU in 2004.
Lúnasa went from strength to strength with its 2006 album Sé reaching #4 on the Irish Echo’s “Best Album” list for that year. In 2009, the group were recipients of the “Leitrim Equation” residency, which is awarded annually by the Leitrim County Council Arts Office to a major band to promote traditional music by working with musicians in the county. The result, The Leitrim Equation featuring Lúnasa, reached #11 on the Echo’s 2009 best of list. The group’s next album, La Nua, made it to #2 on the Echo’s list in 2010 and landed them a feature profile in The Wall Street Journal (June 17, 2010). That year, the group was also featured on celebrated singer/songwriter Natalie Merchant’s album, Leave Your Sleep, but its biggest accolade was being named “Performers of the Decade” by the Live Ireland Irish Music Awards.
In 2013 the band recorded the groundbreaking collaboration Lúnasa With The RTÉ Concert Orchestra (2013) with the Irish national radio station Raidió Teilifís Éireann’s house orchestra. An artistically rewarding effort that showed a different side of the group’s abilities, Irish America magazine called it “a powerhouse record” with Songlines magazine describing it as “Spellbinding.” Then, in 2018, the group released Cas. The group’s first album to include vocalists, it includes tracks done in collaboration with legendary performers Tim O’Brien, Natalie Merchant, Daoirí Farrell, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Eric Bibb. The Irish Echo newspaper called it “one of the most complete, most compelling trad albums” in recent memory, while the Irish Times, in its four star review, praised the band’s “exceptional tune choices, ever-inventive arrangements and immaculate playing.” As the time of writing, the album’s track “Bonnie Light Horseman” (which features Merchant) is under consideration for “Best Folk Track” at the 2018 RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards.
In recent years Lúnasa has maintained a rigorous touring schedule, both on their own and (at different times) with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tim O’Brien, Natalie Merchant, and others. On their extensive tours of the USA, Japan, Australia, and Europe they’ve performed at places like the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, and the Sydney Opera House; appeared at festivals like the Cambridge Folk Festival (UK), the Festival Interceltique de Lorient (France) and the Tønder Festival (Denmark); and collaborated with Irish chanteuse Karan Casey, Irish rock Icons the Saw Doctors, singer/songwriter Luka Bloom, and African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, all the while showing why the band continues to set the standard for traditional Irish music’s elite.
The band even maintained its high standard throughout the pandemic. Faced with extensive cancellations, Lúnasa shifted gears and took to the internet, where they treated fans to multiple online performances. These innovative and highly successful efforts not only inspired other bands in the world of Irish music to do the same, but they also built an audience format that made it possible for Kevin to collaborate with artists in different parts of the world in a fresh, new way. These collaborations quite literally helped write a new chapter into the Irish music tradition.
Kevin’s recording projects separate from Lúnasa have been quite impressive. In 2009, he released On Common Ground with uilleann piper and Lúnasa bandmate Cillian Vallely, which placed #3 in the Irish Echo’s 2009 “Album of the Year” rankings. In 2013, he produced the album Chapter Eight (2013) for the legendary All-Ireland champion Kilfenora Ceili Band. The album received rave reviews from TradConnect and The Journal Of Music, and the Set Dancing News proclaimed that “they have never sounded better on recording.” (Kevin also produced the group’s recently-released 2015 recording Now is the Hour.) In 2013, he also formed The Teetotalers with Irish music superstars Martin Hayes (fiddle) and John Doyle (guitar). In addition to a small tour of the US that year, the group was invited to perform at the Irish Embassy in London for the launch of the Irish EU Presidency. If that weren’t enough, that year Kevin also released Carrying The Tune, his third solo album. An impressive display of technical ability and soul, it was welcomed by critics, with the Irish Echo calling it “an exquisite declaration from the tradition’s top shelf.” With all these achievements, it should come as no surprise then that the Live Ireland Irish Music Awards named him their “Male Musician of the Year” for 2013. In 2017 Crawford partnered with Lúnasa guitarist Patrick Doocey and All-Ireland fiddle champion Dylan Foley on the album The Drunken Gaugers. Warmly received by critics, the Irish Echo called it “bold and very balanced” and “essential listening.” The group were not only featured at the Catskills Irish Arts Week that year, but also at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Ennis, Co. Clare where their command performance and appearance on Fleadh TV were most warmly received. His most recent recording, Music and Mischief, again with Lúnasa bandmates Colin Farrell and Patrick Doocey, was warmly received by critics and received extensive airplay in Ireland and on Irish radio programs around the world.
Keen to pass on the tradition, Kevin is also a noted and in-demand teacher. He gives music classes and workshops at festivals and teaching weeks throughout Ireland and the United States, including the annual Swannanoa Gathering in Swannanoa, North Carolina, MAD Week in Bethesda, Maryland, the Catskills Irish Arts Week in East Durham, New York, the Masters of Tradition music week in Bantry, County Cork, and the famed Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay, County Clare. In addition, he is an instructor through the OAIM (Online Academy for Irish Music) and provides in-person individualized tutelage for a select group of students in the US and Ireland. Truly, there are few other musicians who arouse as passionate a response from their students as Kevin.
Kevin is a highly recognized artist and performer in great demand. In addition to the myriad recording projects, bands, and tours he’s been part of, he’s performed for heads of state, including an official state visit to Luxembourg with Irish President Mary McAleese in 2010 and for President of Ireland Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin, the official residence of the President of Ireland, with Martin Hayes in 2012; for religious leaders, including Pope Francis on his visit to New York in 2015; and for important events, like a ceremony at NYC’s 9/11 Memorial and Museum in 2015. A virtuoso player, Kevin Crawford represents the gold standard in traditional Irish music.
The joy of music lasts a lifetime!
Welcome to the Connecticut Academy of Irish Music, which offers group instruction in traditional Irish music to children and adults on a variety of instruments (fiddle, tin whistle, flute, mandolin, banjo, guitar, and bodhran), as well as singing and mixed instrument classes. Classes are offered by outstanding instructors for players of all levels. We normally offer classes in the beautifully renovated historic barn in Old Wethersfield at the Wethersfield Academy for the Arts, 431 Hartford Ave., Wethersfield, CT.
Interested in finding out more? Please see our current course offerings.
Ready to sign up? Please click here for registration information and form (pricing listed on form).
Read about our Irish Music Class Instructors.
Questions? Contact Director Jeanne Freeman if you have questions or would like more information.
The Hartford Courant wrote a nice feature article about the Connecticut Academy of Irish Music .