Concert: Matt and Shannon Heaton Celebrate "A Fine Winter's NIght"

Trad power-duo Matt and Shannon Heaton (guitar and flute) will be performing Christmas shows in several locations in the Northeast in coming weeks, including a special local appearance at Club Passim in Cambridge on Wednesday December 17th. The concert includes music from their 2007 holiday CD "A Fine Winter’s Night.” The recording features traditional, updated, and original Irish music to evoke Christmas and the winter season. Full list of shows at bottom.

Boston-based Matt & Shannon Heaton’s holiday songbook is not your run-of-the-mill collection of Christmas music. On their Dec 2007 CD release, “Fine Winter’s Night,” they feature music dating from the 12th to the 21st century. With a blend of voices, guitar, bouzouki, Irish flute and whistle, "Fine Winter's Night" is simultaneously homegrown, refined and timeless.

Audience members will hear a few reassuring favorites (a lullaby version of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and the anti-war hymn “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”) alongside unexpected new holiday songs (“First Snowfall of December” and “Julius the Christmas Cat”). With “Fine Winter’s Night,” the Heatons offer both secular and spiritual music to brighten chilly winter days and warm long winter nights.

Here's an excerpt from my review of their CD from last December, as published in the BOston Irish Reporter 12/07.

Matt and Shannon Heaton • A Fine Winter’s Night

“Because of our new Christmas recording, we’re really observing the holiday season this year… Even though I’ve been a “no Christmas before Thanksgiving” kind of a guy, we’ve been rehearsing and thinking about the holiday season, and it’s been really nice. It really marks the season and I’m really looking forward this to being a really special year, and hopefully subsequently it will become a tradition for us.” —Matt Heaton

Boston-based guitar/flute duo Matt and Shannon Heaton, in “A Fine Winter’s Night,” have assembled an earnest tribute to the holiness of the season, an optimistic and original take that combines both Irish traditional and American folk influences into a personality-filled sound that respects its roots but is honest to its present.

Throughout, Shannon’s voice is fresh and subtle, while Matt’s light and sure guitar accompaniment sets the pace for a reeling sleighride. On flute and whistle, Shannon’s playing is precise, confident, and full bodied. With mostly originals that they composed, Shannon and Matt lead us beyond the familiar old songs but they don’t forsake them, either.

Shannon sings a reverent lullaby version of “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” but that follows an original “Julius the Christmas Cat,” a song about the unsung hero whose paws silently fluffed the straw for the Anticipated One’s arrival. Shannon takes us from here into a gorgeous rendition of the slow air, “Day Dawn,” a tune Matt learned while subbing on guitar with the Boys of the Lough. The track ends with Matt’s deft guitar playing on “Paddy Fahy’s” then a nearly-unison flute/guitar duet on “Gerry Terry McMahon’s.” Matt’s original song on the recording, “The First Snowfall of December” is a love story set in a Victorian mansion in Medford. This story has a happy ending: no grim father disapproves, no fair maiden throws herself in a river, and no soldier boy must die. Wow. This album will make you happy. Get those cookies into the oven and invite your loved ones to tea; Matt and Shannon have made music that reminds us of what the holidays are for.

Matt and Shannon Heaton will be performing A Fine Winter’s Night at various local venues in December. Purchase a signed CD from them at one of those concerts, or order their CD online at

See "A Fine Winter's Night" this December 2008:

Wed Dec 3,
Lakeside Theater
Rangeley, ME 207 562 4445

Thurs, Dec 4, 7pm
Skye Theater, 2 Highland Drive
South Carthage, ME 04224 207 562 4445

Fri, Dec 5, 7:30
149 Middle Rd (Rt 109A) Tuftonboro, NH

Sat Dec 6, 8pm
PACE Performing Arts Center, 41 Union St
Easthampton, MA 01027 413-527-3700

Wed, Dec 17, 8pm
Club Passim, 47 Palmer St.
Cambridge, MA 02138 or 617-492-5300x3

Fri Dec 19, 8pm
Godfrey Daniels, 7 East Fourth Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015 or 610-867-2390

Sat, Dec 20, 8pm
Caffe Lena, 47 Philla Street
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 or 518-583-0022