FolkWorld #77 03/2022
© Shannon Heaton / Irish Music Stories

Shannon Heaton: Irish Music Stories

Irish Music Stories, Season 5: The Irish Music Stories project explores Irish, Scottish, and other Celtic traditions. Through podcasts, essays, and bonus content, producer Shannon Heaton weaves together music and conversations with luminaries from the “trad” world. It’s five seasons of culture, history, and art exploration through an Irish music lens. For 2022, the project will continue to expand, with more transcripts of existing shows, essays, and bonus conversations from the vault!

Irish Music Stories

Irish Music Stories is the podcast
about traditional music, and the
bigger stories behind it.

Irish Music Stories
Season 4 (FW#74)

Irish Music Stories
Season 3 (FW#71)

Irish Music Stories
Season 2 (FW#68)

Irish Music Stories
Season 1 (FW#65)

Episode 49 - The Naming of Birds

Matt & Shannon Heaton

Artist Video Shannon Heaton @ FROG

After a horrific week of social unrest in the U.S., and while the Irish Music Stories project begins a major overhaul, host Shannon Heaton offers a meditation on how cataloging and organizing can soothe the soul.

Episode 50 - Framing the Stories

How much power does a backdrop have? As the Irish Music Stories production team works to assemble episodes and bonus materials, Shannon explores the wooded hills of Medford, Massachusetts to find visual and organizational surrounds that look and feel like time-worn jigs, and ballads, and nights of music and dance.

Episode 51 - Depot of Expected Needs

Chips and cheese… Cheese fries… cheesy chips. Is there something truly nourishing about a pile of potatoes and melted cheddar? This month’s Irish Music Stories episode digs in to investigate. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Matthew Olwell, Jamie McClennan, and Matt Heaton help digest the meaning behind the menu… and what all the cups of tea and session snacks surrounding Irish music and dance are really about. There are also short, tasty tales from Kevin Doyle, Liz Carroll, John Williams, and Kathleen Conneely.

Episode 52 - Garden of Ballads

Plants can be carefully cultivated or can spread naturally. Songs can also spread deliberately or accidentally. Here’s a small sampling of just a few of the song collectors who helped preserve gardens of old English, Scottish, and Irish ballads that travelled to North America. Alex Cumming and Catherine Crowe help untangle a few strands of the bountiful musical harvest of folk history and culture preserved by Francis Child, John Lomax, Helen Creighton, Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf, Anne & Frank Warner… and Medford, Massachusetts-born Olive Dame Campbell, whose grave I’m determined to find by the end of the episode. Ft. Catherine Crowe, Alex Cumming, April Verch, Olive Dame Campbell, Len Graham,

Episode 53 - Songs of Cattle and Copper

For centuries, traditional music in Wales has endured empire, organized religion, and connections with port towns in Ireland, like Wexford and Cork. In this special IMS spotlight on Cymru, Rhodri McDonagh, Ceri Rhys Matthews, Angharad Jenkins, and Patrick Rimes explore how the Welsh language, the rhythms of industry, and the lyricism of the rural landscape have shaped the music—and the oxen traditions—of one of Ireland’s closest neighbors.

Episode 54 - Banquet of Collective Wisdom

Irish Music Stories is the show about traditional music, and the bigger stories behind it. Episodes are often 40-50 minutes long (and 51 seconds). Here’s a shorter installment. With help from Ellery Klein I delve into collective wisdom; and I revisit a poem that I aired back in Season One. This episode is 26 minutes… and 51 seconds long. Ft. Ellery Klein, Brian O'Donovan, Gregor Brinkschulte, Andy Xuhang, John Coyne, Tommy McCarthy, Eoin O'Neill.

Episode 55 - Written in Mortar

Len Graham

Flute player John McKenna left troves of treasures when he recorded 78 RPMS in the 1920s; Na Píobairí Uilleann in Dublin helped preserve Irish piping; and Dr. Charles Heaton inspired his grandson to play piano with just eight bars of music. Legacy can nestle between bricks, on birch trees, and on manuscript paper… and it can bloom in surprising ways. In this episode, Liam Kelly, Ivan Goff, Julie Wood Merchant, Wes Merchant, and Matt Heaton share stories about enduring gifts, with special music from organists Dr. Charles Heaton and Renée Anne Louprette.

Matt & Shannon Heaton

Episode 56 - Born for Sport

For many Irish musicians, it can be a tricky and essential game to stay active and find balance between artistic, intellectual, social, and physical pursuits. In this episode, Aubrey Atwater, Evangelos Stowell, and Pa Sheehan share tales from the trails, the barn, the pitch, and the gym to help “work out” some of the Irish music insights that can come to those who sweat.

Episode 57 - Best Laid Plans

Setbacks and surprises are inevitable. Weather and illness—and all sorts of other plan disrupters—are not always foreseeable or controllable. But when disappointment and disruption descends, we can regulate our reactions. Here’s a short follow up to last month’s episode about wellness and balance, including a spoiler about the big marathon (so if you missed Episode 56, check that out before you listen to this one!) Ft. Pa Sheehan & Lissa Schneckenburger.

Episode 58- The Astonishing Adventures of Shannon Heaton

Learn how and why Shannon Heaton creates the Irish Music Stories podcast, as Matt Heaton turns the mic around in the sunroom studio. Tune into this Old-Time radio (half) hour celebration of community, DIY ingenuity, and weighted blankets. And learn about the future of IMS! Ft. Matt Heaton.

Lissa Schneckenburger Ivan Goff Shannon Heaton April Verch Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh Angharad Jenkins

Irish Music Stories explores Irish, Scottish, and other Celtic traditions. This winter I've been developing the IMS website, and reviewing vintage and never-aired footage. New episodes coming in the Spring, thanks in large part to our generous underwriters. THANK you to all who have chipped in recently. You'll be acknowledged on the show, of course. And in the meantime, folks can catch up on past episodes or take in bonus material on the IMS site. :: CHECK OUT all five seasons and companion chapters!!!

Matt & Shannon’s In Harmony drops next month! We are so excited about this forthcoming E-book+recordings -- a collection of essential trad tunes with melody and backing on separate tracks + sheet music with chords! For our VGS friends, all the tunes in In Harmony are on the Virtual Guided Session Common Core Tune List.

Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Irish Music Stories, (3),(5),(8),(12) Shannon & Matt Heaton, (4) Len Graham, (6) Lissa Schneckenburger, (7) Ivan Goff, (9) April Verch, (10) Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, (11) Angharad Jenkins (unknown/website).

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