"Crystal River Trio"

   Contact Us:  crystalrivertrio@gmail.com

The Crystal River Trio


From the moment The Crystal River Trio takes the stage, it’s obvious that these guys have more in common than just the music, they are close personal friends… a fact that comes across in their performances.  The group magically weaves through a diverse program of Irish Ballads, Sea Shanties, Calypso, oldies and folk music, using a combination of history and humor to tie it all together into an evening of fun, laughter, education and great entertainment.


“Great Stuff…”  Tom Martin Erickson

“Simply Folk” Wisconsin Public Radio

Gary  Arndt  Co-founded “Crystal River” in 1981 with former member Robert “Bob” Sandlin.  Gary has always been an avid lover of folk and Irish music. A talent show, while he was in high school, gave Gary his first onstage opportunity. A self-taught guitarist Gary went on to teach himself the Mandolin, Irish Bouzouki, Ukulele, 5 String Banjo, Tenor Banjo, Tenor Guitar and Harmonica. Gary has been onstage ever since.  Gary say’s “The first time I heard the Clancy Brothers, The Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary, I knew that was the kind of music I wanted to play. Music is and will always be a very important and driving force in my life.

Peter  Bartman  joined Crystal River in 1987 creating the trio.  Peter joined the group bringing with him a solid background in music. Gary say’s “Peter is the one that can go to the piano and tell us just what note we should be singing for our harmony parts to work.  Jay and I play by ear.”   Peter sings lead and low harmony. Pete plays the bass, bodhran, Penny Whistle and occasionally the fiddle.  Peter is the groups historian and researches the majority our music.


Jay  Smudde  A self-taught guitarist in 1975.  Playing both six and twelve string guitar, Jay also plays Banjo, Mandolin.  Playing both lead and rhythm, Jay adds a lot to the versatility of the group. Jay joined the Crystal River Trio in 1997.  Gary says “Jay has been a real nice addition to Crystal River,” referring to Jay’s ability to sing lead, high and low harmony.  Peter adds, “Jay brings a lot of youthful energy to us two old folkies, bringing songs from the Eagles and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.”

The following folks have had some nice things to say about us…..


“a lot of us grew-up in the sixties and cut our teeth on the music of Peter, Paul and Mary

and the Kingston Trio.”  Later… as we became ‘experts’ on folk music (or so we thought)

we diverged. Listening to The Crystal River Trio is to remember… and to be informed…

how Hootenanny music was invented… and why!.

John Gilmour – Gilmour Brothers Music


“Fabulous all-around showman. Professional in every aspect of the word. Their performance

alongside the Kingston Trio was rated exceptional by the entire audience.”

Gillian Palfery – Chief Coordinator

Easter Seals Concert Committee


“Their performance was the highlight of our concert”

Pat Conden

Harmony VII Peace Concert Coordinator


“Those guys are absolutely great”

Nick Reynolds

The Kingston Trio


“Crystal River Trio is a wonderful and entertaining group and it has been my pleasure to have them onstage with me”

Judy Collins

Singer / Song Writer


The Crystal River Trio  select the songs they will use according to the venue for which they will be performing.  It could be all Irish, all folk or a variety including 50's & 60's. The trio has a repertoire of over three hundred songs and another eighty songs of Irish or Scottish.  We will have something that everyone will enjoy and will be able to join in and sing along.

The Crystal River Trio can be booked for performances lasting  1 hour or 2 hours.

We also have a Facebook page:   Crystal River Trio

Or take a look at our web page at:  www.crystalrivertrio.com

Harmony Cafe'

Shawano Folk Festival

                                      with Celia Farren

Green Apple 

Folk Music Society

Paddy's Pub, 

Milwaukee WI.

First House Concert

since the pandemic

Harmony Cafe'

                                   w/ guest Mark Johnson

Shawano Folk Music Festival


Copper Stone Assisted Living

               Summer Party - 2023

Evergreen Retirement Community

                             Oshkosh, WI.  2023

602 Block Party

                                Appleton, WI.  2023

The Crystal River Trio

It has been our pleasure to appear at many locations throughout Wisconsin, here are just a few:


Grand Opera House – Touring Artist Series - Oshkosh, WI. - Featured Act

Easter Seals Concert – Appleton, WI

With the Kingston Trio

Grand Opera House – Oshkosh, WI

With Judy Collins

Wisconsin Log Jam – Wausau, WI. 

With Judy Collins

Harmony VII  Sister Cities, Peace Concert, Lawrence University Chapel  

Lawrence University coffee house

Oshkosh State University

Appleton Saint Patty’s Day - Paper Valley's Grand Ballroom

McGuinness Pub – Appleton, WI

Patty’s Irish Pub – Milwaukee, WI

Sunset Dinner and Concert Cruises – Gills Rock, WI

Shawano Folk Festival

Sister Bay Folk Festival

Oshkosh Sawdust Days -  

Paine Art Center and Gardens

Porch Fest -  Appleton, WI


Supper Clubs

High Cliff, The Mariner, The Hiding Place, The Red Fox, Chuter's, Michaels, Holiday Inn,

Pioneer Convention Center, Paper Valley, Marks East Side, Jacks or Better, Georges Steak House


Country Clubs

Butte De Mortis CC, Riverside CC, High Cliff CC,

North Shore CC, River View CC


Area Schools

Appleton West HS, Appleton East HS, Xavier HS,

Neenah HS, Kaukauna HS, Freedom HS, Menasha HS

Assisted Living Community's 

Renaissance, Reniss,  Copper Stone, Evergreen, Aspire, Eagle Point, The Residence, Touchmark,

Ridgeview Highlands, Primrose

Please feel free to listen to the following short music clips.  These will give you a feel of our type of music, style and harmony.

This song originated in South Africa in the early 20th century.  A hunting song originally sung in Zulu,  the original title was "Mbube" which means Lion. 

Recorded by the Tokens in December, 1961. 

The Drinking Gourd is the Big Dipper. Line up the two stars at the end of the dipper and they will point you to Polaris, the  North Star.  In the 1860's, escaped slaves were told to follow the drinking gourd, travel at night and follow the  North Star.  That would lead them, North, to freedom.  

We, the Crystal River Trio, love to share  songs that contain a little bit of history.

The tune "Si Bheag Si Mor" is usually attributed to blind harpist and singer Turlough O'Carolan (1670 – 1738) as his first song, written to the tune of "The Bonnie Cuckoo". One author describes it as a "beautiful old Irish air, usually played simply and leisurely, and occasionally played as a waltz". 

"Amie" certainly has stuck around.  The Pure Prairie League song recorded in 1972 — it took three years to turn into a hit, but has since endured for decades.   

We, the Crystal River Trio, also write some of our own music.  This sample  is a  clip of a bluegrass song that Gary wrote a few years ago.  

   A song about lost love, after the passing of the young mans wife.    

Hope you will enjoy it. 

We will be appearing at the following locations.   Red are Private events, Blue are Public events.

Reniss Assisted Living, Appleton, WI. May 24 2024   1:30 PM

Wiedner Center Green Bay Wi. June 1 2024  Benefit for Stage 4 Cancer by Audrey;s Angles  6:30 PM

Thompson Center Senior Gathering, Appleton, WI.  June 10. 2024  1 PM  Irish

Primrose Retirement Community, Appleton, WI. June 20, 2024  5 :00 PM

Sunday Music in the Park, Shawano, WI. August 4, 2024  6:30 - 8:30 PM

Evergreen Senior Living Oshkosh, WI. Tuesday October 15, 2024,   7 pm 

Primrose Retirement Community, Appleton, WI. December 13, 2024  3 :00 PM   (Christmas)

Email us at:   crystalrivertrio@gmail.com