The Teetotallers


A video of the Teetotallers playing on Irish TV on Youtube

By Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner

As a traditional Irish music lover, I am always searching for new groups or concerts to attend. I had seen my favorite group, Lunasa, in February and heard that the flautist, Kevin Crawford was also part of a new group called the Teetotallers. I liked the name, I love Kevin’s flute playing and I thought I would keep it in the back of my mind to attend the show.

In early April, I read this on line and knew I had to get tickets: “If someone told me about a new trio comprising Martin Hayes, Kevin Crawford, and John Doyle, I would have replied: keep dreaming. Yet that’s exactly what we have: a dream team made real.” Earle Hitchner, Irish Echo

I realized they would be performing in Boston at the Burren. However, by the time I looked for tickets, the 7:30 show was already sold out. I remembered they were playing at the Blackstone River Theatre in Rhode Island on Friday night and purchased tickets. I love this theater because it has wonderful acoustics and it is an intimate, little theater. No matter where you are seated, you feel as though you are very near to the musicians.

From the first note, I knew it was going to be one of the best concerts I had ever attended. I was mesmerized by their virtuosity, their ability to shift tempo from one moment to the next and their love of the music. I was fascinated by John Doyle’s guitar playing, how he made difficult songs and tempo changes seem effortless. Martin Hayes was a wonder to watch on the violin and Kevin was as extraordinary as I remembered him from my many Lunasa concerts. I enjoyed watching the camaraderie between them, the laughter and jokes that exist amongst good friends.

The Teetotallers- not the best picture, but I didn't have my good camera at the show

The Teetotallers- not the best picture, but I didn’t have my good camera at the show. Kevin’s telling a story in this photo.

Engaging stories were interspersed with the glorious music and I enjoyed listening to each band member have his own time to speak. At one point, John Doyle was introducing a song he had written based on a Yeat’s poem. He couldn’t remember the exact title, but said it was something like, “Waiting for my love’s return or waiting for the end of the world.” Someone in the audience called out, “That’s uplifting!” And John Doyle, without missing a beat, replied, “Well, you are at an Irish concert.” He had the audience laughing before moving us nearly to tears with his beautiful song.

For me, the highlight of the night was Martin Hayes’ fiddle solo. It started slowly, and gradually built, until it seemed that he was possessed by the gorgeous music he was creating. It went on and on, and had me spellbound. I sat on the edge of my seat, never wanting it to end, and wondering how I could be so lucky as to have the privilege to see and hear his performance. There was a roar of appreciation from the crowd and a huge standing ovation when he finished.

The concert lasted three hours (with an intermission), and was an unforgettable experience. I look forward to seeing them again in concert, and I cannot wait for them to release an album. Did anyone else have the opportunity to see them in concert?

  • I have also had the privilege of seeing the Teetotallers, but it was at the Swannanoa Gathering Celtic Week outside of Asheville, NC. It was the summer of 2011 and they made the announcement at one of the staff concerts about forming the group. All that I could think of while they were performing together was that the stage seemed about to explode. I am really looking forward to seeing them again at Swannanoa this summer.
    I enjoyed your post. I hope to see a whole concert of theirs sometime.


    • Hi Elizabeth,

      So great you were able to see them a few years ago and so great you are able to see them again this summer. I can’t wait to hear all about it!


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