Folkus Project of CNY
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The HeatonsMatt & Shannon Heaton
Traditional and updated Irish music on flute, accordion, guitar, bouzouki, and voices.

Friday, April 25, 2014
NOTE: Special 4th Friday date
8 p.m. / $15

Member price: $12 (see members link below)

May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society
3800 East Genesee St, Syracuse, N.Y.

artist's website / YouTube clip

“Their playing is masterful and inventive, their arrangements city-smart and spacious. Still, they never forget that Irish music is, at its heart, a neighborly form meant for sharing, not showing off."
— Scott Alarik, Boston Globe

Matt and Shannon Heaton are poised, passionate performers with Irish-American roots and universal appeal. They are comfortable onstage and have a warm connection with their audiences. They move audiences with their love of traditional music (and each other), and their sense of adventure and fun in exploring new directions and possibilities. Musically speaking, the Heatons play the heck out of their instruments (Irish wood flute/accordion, guitar/bouzouki). When Matt and Shannon perform centuries-old songs, it feels current, conversational. They make traditional music relevant to American audiences. Like Richard Thompson or Nic Jones, the Heatons’ music comes from a traditional aesthetic, a devotion to strong traditional bones, and a passion for reaching out to the modern world around them. They are devoted to Irish traditional music and uplift listeners by connecting with each other and the people around them.

Shannon (Live Ireland's Female Musician of the Year 2010 and  2011) has been compared to Alison Krauss and Altan's Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh for her combination of vocal grace and instrumental prowess (Irish flute, button accordion). Matt combines a formal background in classical guitar with a restless imagination to provide a colorful, rhythmic foundation on both guitar and bouzouki.

For their previous album, Lover’s Well, they found the perfect balance of troubadour spirit and virtuoso musicianship. For their new one, Matt and Shannon have once again assembled an album of smartly arranged traditional ballads with deep Irish roots and fresh, modern sensibilities. “Tell You in Earnest,” commercially available April, is their fifth duo CD and features well-traveled “dialogue ballads” (each song is a conversation between two people, fitting for a husband-and-wife duo).

Since their move to Boston in 2001, the Heatons have become an integral part of Boston’s vibrant Irish music and neo-Celtic Acoustic scenes. Their music continues to evolve and is inspired by their work with fellow traditional musicians in and around New England (Matt also plays with Flynn Cohen’s Deadstring Ensemble and has an acclaimed CD of music for children; Shannon plays with Long Time Courting and Childsplay).

“I can think of no other couple I’d rather sit of an evening than Matt and Shannon Heaton. There is always great music, great laughs, and great love. These two are superb musicians and singers. Far more important, they are superb people."
— Bill Margeson, Irish Music Magazine

Matt & Shannon Heaton: Advance Tickets thru PayPal
Please read Advance Ticket Policy to learn how it works, and for other advance options. Note: You do not have to have a PayPal account to use PayPal; charge to your credit card.

(MEMBERS ONLY: click for discount)

Rani Arbo & Daisy MayhemRani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem
w/guest Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers
Scrambling genres around the seductive vocals and fiddle we've known since Rani's Salamander Crossing days.

Friday, May 2, 2014
8 p.m. / $18
Member price: $15 (see members link below)

May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society
3800 East Genesee St, Syracuse, N.Y.

artist's website / YouTube clip

“If Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem offer to cook at your place, you better open up all the doors, and borrow every table and chair you can, because the whole town should come.” — Folk Alley Magazine

Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem draw from the deep well of American roots music, and have an adventurous way of mixing things up. They’ll hang a 200-year-old Georgia Sea Islands song over a New Orleans groove. They’ll set original lyrics to an Irish fiddle tune, then layer it with a groove on a South American box drum. A Leonard Cohen cover gets a clawhammer banjo. Springsteen gets high-octane, bluegrass-style harmonies. And band’s originals range from Unitarian funk gospel tune to 1950s swing. With influences from Doc Watson to Django Reinhardt, from Ghanaian drumming to the funky Meters, and from Fiddlin’ John Carson to Bob Dylan, Daisy Mayhem celebrates America’s rich musical past and brings it into the present.

Rani Arbo was first known to Syracuse audiences as the lead fiddler and vocalist for Salamander Crossing — which derived its name from a pair of tunnels in Amherst, Massachusetts, that salamanders used in order to cross the road to mate in their vernal ponds. That Americana-leaning band, with four well-regarded albums, made innumerable appearances at Happy Endings Cake & Coffeehouse and later in the Folkus series at May Memorial.

Arbo grew up a cellist and chorister in New York City, where she performed centuries’ worth of sacred music, from Hildegarde to Poulenc to Paul Winter. After Salamander Crossing, she pursued a solo career with her support band Daisy Mayhem. Cocktail Swing, a collection of pop, jazz, and country songs given the jug band treatment, arrived in the summer of 2001. 2003's Gambling Eden and 2007's Big Old Life showed off more of her rootsy yet forward-thinking sound.

“Explodes with energy and relaxed good humor.”
- Vintage Guitar Review

The musicians in Daisy Mayhem pick up what’s lying around — from tin cans, to old songs, to human stories — and create something new. Andrew Kinsey, Scott Kessel, Anand Nayak make up one of “America’s most inventive string bands” (The Boston Herald). Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem mix traditional, original, and contemporary sounds on fiddle, guitar, bass and recycled percussion — and top that with joyous harmonies from four skilled lead singers. Hailed as “one of the most song- and arrangement-oriented bands in a field overgrown with pyrotechnic, jam- and solo-conscious virtuosos.” (San Francisco Guardian), the band tackles the human condition with playfulness, courage, and heart.

“Playful and profound”
— The Boston Globe

About Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers. Opening the show will be local songwriter Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, winner of a grand prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, a contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered, and founding editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

Rani Arbo: Advance Tickets thru PayPal
Please read Advance Ticket Policy to learn how it works, and for other advance options. Note: You do not have to have a PayPal account to use PayPal; charge to your credit card.

(MEMBERS ONLY: click for discount)

Songwriter WoodshedA meeting of and for local songwriters . . . more info / Facebook page. Next Meeting: May 7

Leo CrandallLeo Crandall
Creative passion meets progressive blues in one of Syracuse's most enigmatic acts.

Saturday, May 10, 2014
8 p.m. / $10
For reservations, call (315) 478-8634 before 4:30 on Friday.

Westcott Community Center
Corner of Euclid Ave and Westcott St, Syracuse, N.Y.

artist's website / YouTube clip

Leo Crandall is a singer songwriter, musician and composer who primarily performs on the requinto and cello. He performs and records both as a solo artist and as the lead singer/songwriter for the Gonstermachers . He is currently in postproduction on the fourth CD of his own compositions and is writing the material for his fifth.

In addition to being a songwriter he is also a filmmaker and a composer. His music has been heard internationally in Edinborough, Toronto, Montreal, Barcelona, etc. He has received dozens of commissions for film scores, dance productions, theater performances and accompaniment for visual arts installations.

Crandall recently toured Africa, sponsored by the State Department (US Embassy in Senegal). He was nominated for Australia’s Bluestar Award, charted #14 nationally in Roots and Blues airplay. He has received a Meet the Composer Grant and several commissions. His music receives airplay in the US, Europe and Australia.

Later This Season

Tony TrischkaTony Trischka
The area's most famous almost-annual homecoming show is moving to May.

Friday, May 16, 2014
8 p.m. / $20
Member price: $17 (see members link below)

May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society
3800 East Genesee St, Syracuse, N.Y.

artist's website / YouTube clip / Syracuse New Times, March 2014

Tony Trischka is (a) the world's most important and best banjo player and (b) a native of Syracuse, N.Y. For years, Tony has treated Syracuse with frequent homecoming shows, bringing with him some of the very best musicians in bluegrass/Americana music. In recent times, those shows were held at the Westcott Center, until the place nearly burst at its seams. Now the tradition moves to May Memorial, where things just get bigger and better.

Tony Trischka: Advance Tickets thru PayPal
Please read Advance Ticket Policy to learn how it works, and for other advance options. Note: You do not have to have a PayPal account to use PayPal; charge to your credit card.

(MEMBERS ONLY: click for discount)

Sparky TownLinda Sparky Mortimer
Thanks Sparky Town
. . . great supporters of Folkus

The good folks at Sparky Town restaurant provide meals for visiting artists and lots of other little favors to Folkus. We love Sparky Town! (Their website.)

Yum Yum'sYumYum
YumYum's Bakery provides gluten-free snacks to the concession counter at Folkus shows. (Their website.)

Ways to Help

Volunteer for Folkus. Help staff a show. Help manage Folkus. For info, e-mail

  Bring Baked Goods to a Show!
The snack counter at Folkus shows features a mixture of store-bought and homemade goodies, but of course everyone prefers the homemade stuff! If you're a baker, next time you come to a show, bring a plate of cookies, brownies or such. Thanks.
  Help Get Our Posters Out There!
Join the Poster Club.. Give us your e-mail address and we'll send you Folkus show posters (as a PDF attachment). Print and post it wherever you like. To join, send an e-mail to

Past Shows on Facebook
Photos, videos, and recordings of some recent Folkus shows have been posted by Larry Hoyt:

Mike PowellMike Powell / Feb. 21 . . . Video at YouTube . . . Photos on Facebook MP3 recording of Andrew & Noah VanNorstrand, 3/8/14, at the Westcott Center: "Til the End of the World Rolls 'Round" More photos on Facebook:


Address questions about this website to Dana Cooke,

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About Folkus
Who we are and what we do. Click here.

The Venues
May Memorial UU Society
First and third Friday of the month
All shows at 8 pm (doors open at 7:15)
3800 East Genesee St., Syracuse / website / how to get there

Westcott Community Center
Second Saturday of the month
All shows at 8 pm
Corner of Euclid Ave. and Westcott St., a half-mile east of SU / website / how to get there

Ticket Policy
Advance sale tickets through PayPal and other methods. Click here.

(Don't have a PayPal account? You can still use PayPal to make a credit card purchase.)

Note: If you have questions about your ticket purchase for a Friday show at May, please do not telephone May Memorial or the Westcott Center. Review our advance ticket policy and, if you still have questions, try e-mailing Thanks.

Elsewhere in the Region

Djug Django • Sa 5/3 • Oswego Music Hall • website

Friends of Folkus

Bill Knowlton's Bluegrass Ramble. Bill's bluegrass radio show (and associated events) date back almost as far as Bill Monroe himself! / website

CNY Bluegrass Association. Folk music's mountain-bred second cousin / website

"Common Threads." Folk music on the radio. / website

Guitar League. Talk and workshops about your ax. Meeting monthly / website

Irish Sessions. A great, ongoing jam of Celtic and old-timey types. Every Sunday / website

Kellish Farms. This Pompey Center farm has been converted into a music center, featuring concerts and jams of folk, bluegrass, and country types / website / blog article

Oswego Music HallOswego Music Hall. One of upstate New York's most venerable music venues, in a beautiful location to boot! / website

Syracuse Community Choir. Songs of peace and social justice / website

Syracuse Country Dancers. Contra dances and the like / website

Join the CNY Friends of Folk listserv. For info: website