Matt & Shannon Heaton | Blue Skies Above

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United States - Mass. - Boston

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Folk: Irish Traditional World: Celtic Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Blue Skies Above

by Matt & Shannon Heaton

Matt & Shannon Heaton combine razor-sharp Irish traditional music (vocals, Irish flute, guitar, bouzouki) with home-grown American songcraft.
Genre: Folk: Irish Traditional
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. Thady Casey's & The Reel of Rio
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3:54 $0.99
2. The Blackbird
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4:16 $0.99
3. Giant of the Road
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3:24 $0.99
4. The Shady Spot
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3:56 $0.99
5. Harvest Time
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3:59 $0.99
6. Belle of the South Shore & Jennifer & Don's
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4:02 $0.99
7. Redwoods in Winter & The Small Girl
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3:35 $0.99
8. Death and the Lady
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4:20 $0.99
9. The O'Connor Donn's & The Morning Thrush
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4:31 $0.99
10. The Monument
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5:06 $0.99
11. Jig (name unknown) & Sailing Down Fulton Street
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3:44 $0.99
12. The Lucky Dozen & The Skylark
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3:52 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Matt & Shannon Heaton play traditional and modern Irish music with vocals, guitar, bouzouki, and Irish flute. They combine some of the best aspects of traditional music (exciting and soaring instrumentals)with home-grown American song-craft.

Blue Skies Above is the duo's 2006 release. Also from the Heatons: Dearga, released in 2003, and "Fine Winter's Night" (Celtic Christmas album) released in 2007.
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Matt and Shannon Heaton pair original songs with traditional Irish flute and guitar numbers. An unusual blend of material? Sure. But a natural one for this Boston-based husband-and-wife pair, who has retained trad music chops while becoming involved in the rich Boston acoustic music scene. Call it Irish Americana, or modern Celtic music—Matt and Shannon's shows feature stunning musicianship, an easy rapport with audiences, and a selection of music you won't hear anywhere else.

Acoustic Guitar magazine summed it all up: "Matt nails it all down with his highly textured guitar playing." His rhythmic integrity and inventive harmonic ideas provide a rich framework for Shannon's timeless, evocative lyrics—and her stunning Irish flute playing. By bringing in wood flute riffs and backing vocal parts that blend with agile guitar lines, the Heatons offer a big, layered, modern sound.

On their latest release, "Blue Skies Above" (March 2006), the Heatons offer a seamless blend of traditional and original music, adding occasional electric guitar, drums, fiddle, banjo, and accordion whenever tracks called for it. Shannon explains, "We never sought to make the old world new—we just went with what was in our heads and hearts. We have some guest musicians on the CD, but made sure that every track on the record could be recreated live, with just the two of us.”

"Matt and Shannon Heaton combine lilt and contemporary sensibility, and sidestep the expected treble timbre of Irish music... Their songs are standouts." Sing Out! Magazine

Shannon's mom started her out on the piano at the age of 3. Four years later, she was living in Nigeria and learning flute and whistle from her Belgian neighbor. Throughout her early days, she was exposed to a number of traveling musicians and folklorists who would stay with her family while passing through town. When she settled in Chicago for college, she became involved in the Irish music scene on the north side of the city, where she really started to hunker down to learn traditional Irish flute. She’d spend nights at sessions in the city, summers in Ireland, and has been playing tunes ever since.

After a disastrous start on trumpet (at age 12 he entered a competition, as unprepared as he could have been), Matt fled to the guitar. For $35, he landed a Harmony Electric at a rummage sale in Shadyside (Pittsburgh), complete with amp and new butter dish. Through college he played with surf-rock band The Flavor Channel, fronted neo tango quartet Orquesta Atipica, turned pages and sang in the choir for his organist father, and studied classical guitar… before settling on Irish guitar. Matt has no family ties to Ireland—he's as olive-skinned a trad player as you're likely to meet—but a longtime love of the music drew him to it, and meeting Shannon in Chicago sealed the deal.

From Chicago, Matt and Shannon moved to Boulder Colorado, where they formed Irish trad band Siúcra with singer Beth Leachman. In 2001, they moved to Boston where they worked as sidemen for some of the Celtic music world’s best performers. In late 2003, they decided to emerge as a duo and recorded their debut disc, “Dearga.” They began building their reputation in Celtic music circles, and also more general acoustic music crowds at folk venues and festivals throughout the country.

Their sophomore effort, “Blue Skies Above,” takes its title from Shannon’s self-penned last verse of the traditional song “The Blackbird”, highlighting the Heatons’ style of merging traditional and original lyrics and melodies. “Harvest Time” pairs early 20th century courtship with modern low whistle and fiddle solos. And for the lovely instrumental, “Belle of the South Shore,” Vermont musician Sam Amidon adds clawhammer banjo strains, fusing traditional Irish and American music worlds. Other guests include percussionist Paddy League, Scottish singer/accordion player Emily Smith, New Zealand fiddler Jamie McClennan, and singer/fiddler Laura Cortese.

Matt and Shannon Heaton are keeping their horizons bright with a sunny collection of music, a growing fanbase, and a touring entourage that fits in a compact car.


Reviews


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Michael V Irwin

Stellar flute playing, oringinal compositions and arrangements
I rarely write reviews but I really enjoy the feeling I get when I listen to this CD. It transports me to a lighter more positive world. I particularly like the original compositions, but the whole CD is very listenable.

Bob Werner

Great music
New to this genre. First heard Matt and Shannon in Woods Hole; enjoyed the performance. Then WUMB played Blackbird a few times. Decided we needed to get the CD and did so. Enjoy all the other songs, as well, now. Would like to get the lyrics since we are not adept at discerning the words when playing the music. What little we are able to discern, we believe that the lyrics have something to say.

Steve Brown

Exemplary flutes and whistle with some of the best guitar and bozouki you will h
I purchased the cd after hearing the O'Connor Don's/The Morning Thrush on Wooden Flute Obcession 3. After previewing a few tunes on CD Baby, I realized the whole record was of the same caliber. There is something special about these folks, the music is just superative. I am partial to the tunes, but there version of Blackbird is so fresh and original.

fitzo

An uplifting, happy experience
Shannon has a beautiful voice and wonderful cadence to her singing. Her flute and whistle work is skilled and delightful. Matt's guitar and bouzouki is a both a wonderful backbone and accent both. His voice is good on its own, but shines in harmony to Shannon's. there is just enough added in each song with a guest musician to make every composition "full". The arranging and songwriting were excellent, as was the production. This was a wonderful find for us. We immediately ordered their first release upon hearing this.

El McMeen

Just love it
I just love the freshness and youthful energy and joy of this CD, from this immensely talented and creative couple.
The majority of the music is original, but with a strong foundation in traditional music, and they put their musical stamp on the traditional pieces as well. This will certainly remain in my rotation!

Dave Dillman

Great CD, it expands from Celtic tradtion in several interesting ways!
Shannon and Matthew Heaton's music expands outward from a strong Celtic core. Blue Skies Above features traditional and new material from the artists. There's a great variety of styles, yet it remains unified: Shannon's flutes, whistles and vocals and Matthew's guitars (including one cut that reminds me of Richard Thompson's earlier folk based music), percussion and his vocals. The Heatons get better with each recording, their own or as guest artists.
Great listening!