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Steamboat Magazine

Lúnasa: on creating their own spin, their best fans and keeping Irish tunes relevant

03/05/2024 05:40PM ● By Sophie Dingle
(Photo: Members of the Irish band Lúnasa. Courtesy of Lúnasa)

Steamboat Springs, CO - The Irish band Lúnasa will land in Steamboat Springs later this month for a March 13 performance at Strings Pavilion. Hailed as “the new gods of Irish music” by MOJO Magazine and “an Irish music dream team” by Folk Roots, they’re a band that has become influential in the history of niche traditional music. Flutist Kevin Crawford shared some thoughts with Steamboat Magazine.

On making music and traditional Irish tunes:
When you start out, you can have a couple of different goals…like, I imagine one is just to be able to tour the world and enjoy those experiences. You can make things easier for yourself by playing things that you know. Specifically with Irish music, there’s a pool that you can tap into and go from there and do a show. There’s kind of a genesis of the music that comes from just sitting around and connecting and playing tunes; you can get away with not having a setlist and jumping up on stage. We could have done that but we wanted to come up with a sound that was our own and was maybe giving a different voice to some of those older tunes.

On creating their own sound:
Writing our own tunes was still kind of new to Irish music; you were supposed to pay homage if you liked the older stuff. Lúnasa is more group-oriented. That’s something we still try to maintain…if we come up with a melody, there has to be something for each band member. Passengers are not needed! We came up with these low whistle sounds and it’s almost like a choir with the same sound but different parts. It became a thing that no one had done at that time and it became sort of a signature sound.

On their fans:
We’re just back from Japan – who’s going to say that’s not exciting?! It’s a totally different culture but what people might not know is that it’s the largest growth area for Irish music now. In Japan, when they do something, they really take it on. A lot of Japanese have moved to Ireland to spend a few years totally immersed in the music and then they’ll go back to Japan to share it and teach it. There are definitely two or three Lúnasa tribute bands in Japan. You wouldn’t be able to live there because your ego would be beyond the freaking roof.

On the popularity of Irish music:
On the surface, it appears kind of an easy music to engage with. At first, you’re tapping your foot and feeling something and liking something and that’s great energy. You can feel that no matter where you’re from. When you start to peel away the layers, you realize that this thing is so, so hard and sophisticated; there are so many layers. I never have enough time to learn all of the nuances and all of the tunes themselves. I think most people who do like it from the outset go on that journey and then over time, you do learn and hear all these little artifacts and idiosyncrasies of the music. Before you know it, you’re sucked in.

On maintaining a fresh sound:
You have to love what you do and you have to really care about the music. Our whole life revolves around music. Even when it’s not touring time, we’re all invested in it. I teach a lot – that’s a big passion of mine – and I’m still hugely into researching older music and that’s what feeds me today: the same stuff that I used to jump out of bed for when I was a kid. When it comes to making music as a band, that’s the vehicle then to put the stuff that you’ve been practicing into play.

Catch Lúnasa at Strings on Wednesday, March 13 at 7:00 p.m. For tickets, visit