Art Notes: Singer-songwriter to serenade audiences at Sawtooth Kitchen

  • Tommy Crawford performs at a First Friday event in White River Junction, Vt. (Mike Cannon photograph) Courtesy of Mike Cannon

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/19/2023 4:10:01 PM
Modified: 4/19/2023 4:09:49 PM

Tommy Crawford has become known for his work as both an actor and a musician. That mix of theater and song has been with him pretty much from the start.

Theater exposed him to music in the public schools of Montclair, N.J., where he grew up. He picked up the guitar at 15. And though he studied theater as an undergrad at Yale, he was in an a cappella group all four years.

“I think it’s really been 50-50,” Crawford said in a phone interview, adding that “both are kind of intrinsic and essential to my art.”

At any given moment, though, one half or the other steps into the light, and right now, during a residency at Sawtooth Kitchen, the singer-songwriter has taken the lead, at least publicly. Crawford has two more dates lined up at the Hanover nightspot, this Saturday and April 29.

Crawford first became known to Upper Valley audiences while performing in “Only Yesterday,” Norwich playwright Bob Stevens’ play about an episode in the early days of The Beatles that was developed at Northern Stage from 2016 through a production in 2018. (It later earned rave reviews in a brief production in New York in 2019.)

The following year, Crawford co-starred in Northern Stage’s production of “Once,” a show about a pair of buskers that’s pretty much the archetype of how Crawford deploys his talents.

Crawford and his wife, Sarah Elizabeth Wansley, moved to the Upper Valley in 2021, when she was offered a job as associate artistic director at Northern Stage. Our Tuesday afternoon phone interview took place while their daughter, Athena, was napping.

As much as Crawford has found a creative home at Northern Stage, he’s also found one in the Upper Valley’s growing community of musicians. He had a hand in creating Riverfolk, a music festival in Northern Stage’s outdoor theater, co-hosting it with Jakob Breitbach. And he has become a regular at the Anonymous Coffeehouse, in Lebanon, including hosting a recent installment.

Crawford, 35, also continues to perform with and write music for The Lobbyists, the New York-based theater and music collective he co-founded in 2012. He and Wansley also are working on a Northern Stage commission, a play with music based on interviews with Upper Valley farmers that will get a staged reading this summer.

The projects he’s working on right now are outside the public eye, but between the writing and his solo performances, he’s maintaining that 50-50 ratio.

“I love the balance right now that I’m striking between theater and music,” he said.

Last fall, he released “Athena and the Moon,” an album of original songs, just Crawford and his guitar. The title track was the first he’d written since moving to Vermont. He recorded it at CedarHouse Sound and Mastering, in Sutton, N.H., with engineer Gerald Putnam.

“I had never done a completely solo recording in the studio before,” Crawford said. He’s working with Matt Appleton to record a new single next month, he added.

The increase in solo shows goes hand-in-hand with the recording. The month of Saturdays at Sawtooth has been a way to experiment and to meet a new audience in a place he called “a comfortable venue.”

“I sort of joked last time, like, welcome to my living room,” Crawford said.

Tommy Crawford performs at Sawtooth Kitchen, on Allen Street in Hanover, at 4 p.m. on April 22 and 29. There’s no cover, but donations for musicians are gratefully accepted.

50 years of art

As part of its ongoing 50th anniversary celebration, AVA Gallery and Art Center, in Lebanon, is holding Bloom!, a benefit exhibition built around its annual silent auction. The exhibition is on view now and concludes with a party and final bidding in the galleries on April 28. Going to the exhibit is free, and so is bidding, as long as someone outbids you. But tickets to the party are $50, $45 for AVA members. For more information, go to

More folk

Singer-songwriter John Flynn performs at 7:30 Friday night at Roots and Wings, a coffeehouse hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Upper Valley, in Norwich.

Flynn, a Delaware-based musician, is both an artist and an activist, advocating mainly for helping incarcerated people to return successfully to the wider world. In 2019, he received the Champion of Justice Humanitarian Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Foundation.

Tickets are $20 and are available through the coffeehouse’s website,

Alex Hanson can be reached at or 603-727-3207.

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