BENNINGTON — Since 1991, Matt and Shannon Heaton have visited four continents and a variety of venues to deliver and authentic Irish music performance.

On Sept. 23 they'll return to Vermont for a more intimate show at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

The duo met at a gig and Shannon Heaton needed a guitar player for a wedding, which was the start of a life long music career. What she loves most about the genre is the old stories and ballads that have been around for hundreds of years.

For next week's performance, Shannon Heaton said she's excited to get to know the audience and hear their stories and if they have music in their family, etc.

"What I always like the best is just getting a chance to connect with the audience," she said. "The driving rhythms and stories brings so many different people together."

Heaton's grandfather played Irish music but she said she didn't get involved in playing it until she was slightly older. She said she catches her 6-year-old son singing excerpts of Irish songs while he's playing. He also travels with them to every gig.

The duo attended Northeastern University for music, but Heaten claims she learned the bulk of her talent in the field.

"I also write a lot and compose, and I have a podcast. My husband does a lot of music for kids, in addition to our duo," she said. "I'm grateful for the people I've met for that and the tools they gave me, but I learned better just doing it in the world. There's no shortcut to that."


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She started on the piano at age 3 and learned how to play the Irish flute at 7. Matt Heaton started playing trumpet at age 7 and eventually learned guitar. The latter of the two, and a bouzouki or Greek mandolin, are the basis for their performances.

The musicians moved to Boston in 2001 and give off a mix of that and Chicago style, warm sound during a performance, according to their site.

Heaton was named the Massachusetts Cultural Council Traditional Artist Fellow this year and was dubbed Female Musician of the Year in Irish American News in 2009. Her husband has received a hand full of Massachusetts Cultural Council Grants for his work with children.

For 10 years the UUF has put on a Meetinghouse Cafe series with artists coming from near and far once a month. Since then there's been more than 100 concerts.

The Heatons will perform at 8 p.m. on Sept. 23 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at 108 School St. Tickets cost $15 and $10 for students.

For more information on the duo, visit mattandshannonheaton.com.