After a lifetime of travelling, Irish flute player and traditional singer Shannon Heaton has found a way to carry home on the road: by sharing it with others. Heaton and her guitarist/singer husband Matt have performed their cheery, appealing Irish music in venues on four continents. A mainstay in the neo-trad scene in Boston, the Heatons have been named “Artist of the Year” by LiveIreland, two years in a row.
Music is how the Heatons make their living, and it’s also how they create a feeling of home—by bringing their music and their stories to new places. Their Saturday February 23 performance at Altadena’s Coffee Gallery Backstage (2029 N. Lake) will be their second appearance at this intimate folk venue. Showtime is 7pm, Tickets ($18) and information at www.coffeegallery.com.
The Heatons find that the richness of their music is enhanced by expanding their horizons, whether on concert stages in Germany and Switzerland or small university classrooms in Northeast Thailand (where Shannon conducts the show in fluent Thai). Connecting with new audiences helps Matt and Shannon hear their music through new ears. Matt explains, “Playing music that tells stories people can relate to and playing in community-friendly venues allows us to connect with people in a very direct way. It is an honest, refreshingly direct thing to be a part of.”
Just as music is an integral part of their life, travelling is an integral part of who they are. As a young child, Shannon’s early summers were spent touring around the Southwest U.S. and later around Nigeria and Thailand with her ethno-journalist parents. It is natural for the Heatons to take their young son with them as they tour around the globe.
Matt & Shannon have an easy rapport with audiences and a knack for storytelling. Their shows are chock-full of fine musicianship and good humor, rich in variety and emotion as they move seamlessly from fiery Irish flute- and guitar-based instrumentals to songs about love, death, and bicycles. From town to town, they lift people’s spirits and make Irish traditional music relevant to general acoustic music fans.