Interview:A Few Minutes With Kevin Crawford of Lunasa
Do you harbor a fondness for Irish music? Were you known to venture a bit to the south to catch one of the wonderful (and sorely missed) concerts at Fenian’s Pub in Conklin? Might you possess a tendency to make early autumn plans around the Irish Music Festival in Muskegon?
Well, the Dogwood Center not only has a musical treat in store for you but a seasonal musical treat at that as the Irish group extraordinaire known as Lunasa will be providing some musical magic with a Sunday evening concert in the cozy confines of the Black Box.
This renowned group of musical artists collaborates seamlessly with a sophisticated sound that breathes new life into traditional tunes. The group tours tirelessly bringing their music across the globe and just two days after St. Patrick's Day, that Celtic cornucopia of corned beef, cabbage and perhaps a pint or two, Lunasa will be coming to our fair climes.
We caught up with Kevin Crawford who handles the musical duties on flute, penny whistle, low whistle and bohran to pose a few questions as the group traveled by bus toward Bristol Tennessee. With a gentle Irish brogue Kevin spoke about his own beginnings, the group, and the music they love.
N3 – How did you start playing music?
KC-I came by it in a different kind of way. I grew up in England so I didn’t have a lot of Irish musicians around me to drop in on and listen to. I mostly relied on recordings. My parents are both from the west of Ireland...
...both from County Clare and they loved Irish music. They didn’t play it but they had lots of recordings and I tapped into those and fell for the music at an early age.
My mother would take us back to her home for 3 weeks every summer and that gave me a the opportunity to hear musicians that were quite famous in the area playing and that added more of an incentive for me to learn how to play.
N3- Always the flute?
KC- I started on the penny whistle. You see it was a cheap and cheerful way to get going. Picked it up myself and learned a lot of bad habits I’m sure That’s how it started, but you know once you get your foot on the ladder your kind of eager to get going.
Are you familiar with what are called ‘sessions’? It’s where folks get together play some tunes have some fun and you know, maybe have an alcoholic beverage or two.
N3- We’re aware of the concept and have perhaps been to a similar gathering or two.
KC- Well once I started going to those it really developed then and the next thing you know you’re totally hooked and playing the music full time.
N3-Sounds like early on you knew this was what you wanted to do.
KC- Yeah, I knew it was going to be what I was going to do but I didn’t know if I could make a living from it. I mean, that didn’t worry me, I just wanted to play. I didn’t care whether or not I could put food on the table with it, I was going to play.
N3-Have you seen a lot of change in the music of Lunasa over your 20 years together?
KC- If anything we’ve gotten a bit more brave with writing our own materials. We do a lot of traditional sound and we’ve gotten to be good at finding what work the best for us.
We still get excited over the music. And, like today, leaving the studio and coming away knowing we can still make music we’re proud of ….. that’s nice to have happen and you know you’re not just phoning it in.
N3- Lunasa has had a long term successful musical partnership. That’s no easy task in your business.
KC- We didn’t really know each other going into this 20 years ago. It just kind of worked out. It was a coming together of minds I guess and thankfully we get on. I know a lot of bands in Ireland and I can’t think of a band who came together like we did. Most of them grew up playing and then decided to form a band.
We didn’t know each other but we knew each other’s music and reputation so there was respect there because of that.Maybe that helped.
N3-You guys tour a lot. Have you been up in this area?
KC -Oh yeah, we played for Maryann (Reagan) over at Fenian’s in Conklin. Great place. Loved it there.
N3 You mentioned you were brought up in England.
KC- I lived in England until I was 21 then I wanted to immerse myself fully in the music so I moved to Ireland in 1989 and I stayed there until 3 years ago when I moved to America. I actually spent more of my life in Ireland.
N3 Where are you living now?
KC New York. Well, Brooklyn really.
N3 Like it?
KC-Oh I love New York it’s very different from where I was living in Ireland and of all the cities in the US it has the strongest Irish scene. The music has a very high standard and the musicians I’ve played with there are phenomenal. Its great and I’m loving it.
N3 -So, are there “sessions” in Brooklyn?
KC (laughs) Well not in Brooklyn but there’s some in the city, mostly around Manhattan…….some really good ones.
The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box. Tickets are $17.50 and are available through the Dogwood Center Box Office, NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont, or on-line at www.dogwoodcenter.com. For information, phone 231.924.8885. The Dogwood Center is located one mile east of downtown Fremont.
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