Matt & Shannon Heaton:
Boston-based Matt and Shannon Heaton play traditional and updated Irish music on flute, accordion, guitar, bouzouki, and voices. Their inventive approach to traditional tunes and ballads, their variety of instruments, and their blend of new and old music creates a robust "band" sound the Boston Herald called "majestic excellence." Winner of Live Ireland's "Trad Fusion Album of the Year," the Heatons move seamlessly from harmony singing, to driving flute tunes, to lush guitar lines, creating a big, layered, modern sound.
Their 5th album "Tell you in earnest" (rel. Feb 2015) is a collection of ballads with dramatic stories. Each song is like a two-person play, with emotionally honest dialog, riveting action, and enduring themes of intrigue, love, revenge, and regret. There are plenty of American roots influences and original touches here-newly composed melodies, self-penned stories, updated lyrics, tight harmony singing-but everything is filtered through an Irish traditional music framework. That each song is arranged with great care and creativity is a given, and is just another way the Heatons reach deep to bring the emotional core of each song alive for their audiences.
Matt and Shannon had their musical start in Chicago, where they played with mentors Liz Carroll, John Williams, and Jimmy Keane. Annual trips to Clare, three years in bluegrass-haven Boulder, Colorado, and their move to Boston in 2001 have all influenced their repertoire and style. They are an integral part of Boston's vibrant Irish music and neo-Celtic Acoustic scenes, and many of their new arrangements and compositions well out of their work with fellow traditional musicians in and around New England (Matt also plays with Flynn Cohen's Deadstring Ensemble and has an acclaimed CD of music for children; Shannon plays with Long Time Courting and Childsplay).
Matt and Shannon are poised, passionate performers. They are comfortable onstage and have a warm, sometimes hilarious, presence and banter with audiences. This is Indie traditional music, founded in an authentic love of traditional music (and each other) and a sense of adventure and fun for exploring new directions and possibilities.
"Brilliant, American-bred Irish folk" -Daniel Gewertz, Boston Herald
" Shannon is a strong flute and whistle player who takes care to give, as my mother used to say, every note its due (her and my highest compliment). Subtle variations abound in her playing, whether the tune is traditional or self-composed. Her voice is equally strong, and she draws the listener in with well-chosen songs. Matt, like the best accompanists, has a style all his own and creates the perfect mood and texture"-Fiddle player, Liz Carroll
"Their playing is masterful and inventive, their arrangements city-smart and spacious. Still, they never forget that Irish music is, at its heart, a neighborly form meant for sharing,
not showing off."-Scott Alarik, Boston Globe
"tight, sweet, and tasteful, lacking nothing on either technical expertise or instrumental virtuosity...[with] hints of an older domestic sound, the familiar down home harmonies of The Carter Family and Tim and Mollie O'Brien."-John O'Regan, Irish Music Magazine
The husband-and-wife team aptly bridges the worlds of contemporary coffeehouse folk with traditional Irish fare for a sound that draws from history to produce something fresh-Scott McLennan, Worcester Telegram & Gazette
"The perfect balance of troubadour spirit and virtuoso musicianship."-Wildy's World
"If Matt's solid guitar playing is the rock, Shannon's voice is the sun: remarkably light yet powerful, reminiscent of the 10,000 Maniacs' Mary Ramsey." -Molly Snyder Edler, OnMilwaukee
"Bright, uplifting music that will make you smile." -Tom Nelligan, Dirty Linen
"Their bright take and Shannon's warm voice breathe freshness into each song." -Rob Weir, Sing Out
"Matt and Shannon Heaton funnel the tradition through contemporary sensibilities to show everyone how important the young musicians can be to the perpetuation of a scene- Danielle Dreilinger, Northeast Performer
There's maturity and at the same time freshness in their performance style. They are a wonderful representation of high standard, Irish musicians in America, and I for one am thrilled they chose the music of my country to devote their lives to."- Anne Marie Kennedy
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