New England Celtic Arts will present Irish husband-and wife duo Matt and Shannon Heaton with Sarah Blair on Tuesday, July 6 at Lakeside Theater in Rangeley, on July 7  at Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center in South Carthage and on July 8 at Unity College Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday. Curtain is at 7 p.m. at Lakeside and Skye and 7:30 p.m. in Unity. There is a preshow jam session 45 minutes prior to curtain at Skye and Unity. Audience members are encouraged to bring their instruments and jam with the artists for a few minutes.

Matt and Shannon Heaton share many Irish music memories, since 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, a love for Irish music and a  stage banter that is comfortable and often hilarious.

The Heatons play Irish wood flute, accordion, guitar and bouzouki.

As for their singing, when they perform centuries-old songs, it feels current and conversational. They make traditional music relevant to American audiences.

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 lat 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 included their own Irish-style version of Thai classic “Lao Dueng Duen” on their 2009 release “Lovers’ Well,” their fourth release as a duo.

Sarah Blair began playing Irish fiddle in Providence, R.I.’s  thriving traditional Irish music scene.  She honed her playing as a sought-after session leader in Boston and in the world of American contradancing.  With her band The Sevens and with other ensembles, Blair has played at festivals, concerts and dance weeks from Alaska to Quebec to Florida.  Her most unusual gig was filling in for fiddler Liz Carroll for a portion of The Eagles’ singer Don Henley’s 2000 tour. 

Lakeside Theater is on Main Street in Rangeley. Skye Theater is located 3 miles West of East Dixfield village at 2 Highland Drive off Winter Hill Road and  Route 2 in South Carthage. UCCPA is at 42 Depot St. in Unity. Tickets are $10 at the door for Unity and Skye. Rangeley is $12.50 in advance and $15 at the door. For reservations at the theater you wish to attend call: Lakeside Theater at 864-5000 or Skye Theatre at 562-4445 or Unity Center for the Performing Arts at 948-7469.

Advance tickets may be purchased for Lakeside at the theater or on the website,

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