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Boston based duo at Skye
REGION -- New England Celtic Arts will present Matt and Shannon Heaton at Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center in South Carthage on Wednesday, Nov. 9, and at Unity College Center for the Performing Arts in Unity on Thursday, Nov. 10.
Curtain at Skye is 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in Unity. Pre-show jam sessions at Skye and Unity start one hour prior to curtain.
Every Irish traditional musician has a collection of peak session memories: the spontaneous night of tunes after hours in the back of a pub, the house party in rural Clare with that wonderfully ancient concertina player, or the songs swapped backstage at a festival.
Matt and Shannon Heaton share many similar Irish music memories, because they have performed together from their first meeting in Chicago in 1991. Behind their Irish flute- and guitar-driven tunes and stirring songs is a deep well of mutual memories, setbacks, and triumphs.
Having built their act from years of touring together (first with band Siucra, then as a duo), Matt and Shannon have grown into thoroughly entertaining performers. They bring to the stage a depth of shared experience and a love for Irish music; their stage banter is comfortable, often hilarious.
Musically speaking, the Heatons play the heck out of their instruments (Irish wood flute/accordion, guitar/bouzouki). After years of study in Chicago, and many nights of music in Clare, Galway, and their adopted home of Boston, Irish Music Magazine's John O'Regan wrote, "their duet playing is tight, sweet, and tasteful, lacking nothing on either technical expertise or instrumental virtuosity."
As for their singing, when Matt and Shannon perform centuries-old songs, it feels current, conversational. They make traditional music relevant to American audiences. O'Regan wrote "songwise [there are] hints an older domestic sound, the familiar down home harmonies of The Carter Family and Tim and Mollie O'Brien."
Before focusing on Irish music, Matt earned a classical guitar degree, played with the Chicago pop group The Flavor Channel, and fronted the Nuevo tango group Orquesta Atipica. Meanwhile Shannon studied flute and ethnomusicology at Northwestern University, joined Matt's tango band, and took weekend trips to Chicago's Wat Dhammaram to continue the Saw Oo (lap fiddle) and Thai singing studies she began when she was an exchange student in Thailand.
Though she specializes in Irish wooden flute and traditional Irish-style singing, adores the Chicago musicians who started her out, and is deeply involved with her local Boston traditional music scene (she co-founded Boston's Celtic Music Fest and teaches for Boston's Comhaltas), she has retained a deep interest in world music, especially the music of Thailand. She and husband Matt Heaton included their own Irish-style version of Thai classic "Lao Dueng Duen" on their 2009 release "Lovers' Well" and more recently, in 2011, Shannon released the “Blue Dress.”
Skye Theater is located three miles west of East Dixfield village at 2 Highland Dr. off Winter Hill Road and Rt. 2 in South Carthage. UCCPA is at 42 Depot St. in Unity. Ticket price is $15 at the door. For reservations, call Skye Theatre at 562-4445 or UCCPA at 948-7469. Reservations are strongly suggested at both venues.