Woodstock duo uses music to bring people together

Sean and Karen Slavin
Sean and Karen Slavin

Music brought Sean and Karen Slavin together, and they’re now hoping their music does the same for others. 

Promoting a new album, the Woodstock couple and duo will perform acoustic rock and country at 7 p.m. Sept. 14 at The Listening Room, Lakeside Legacy Arts Park, 401 Country Club Road, Crystal Lake. 

The two formed a group in 2005, and played gigs off and on for awhile, including children’s shows. But their music was put on the back-burner as the couple focused on children, jobs and other life changes.

“About a year ago, we started coming at it again full-force,” Sean Slavin said.

Since, the duo has seen much success, writing their own original songs and performing throughout the Chicago suburbs. They ranked in the top 10 in the 2013 Suburban Chicago’s Got Talent competition.

And they recently self-released the album, “Moodswings,” available at reverbnation.com/seanandkarenslavin.

They’ve been told their music is reminiscent of songs from the 1940s, Sean Slavin said.

The album contains country, rock, a “French cafe type of song,” some pop and folk, he said.

“It has so many elements,” he said. 

Its influences come from the Beatles when it comes to the melodies, he said, as the songs have to be “hummable.”

“Our stuff is for whatever reason really catchy right away and the lyrics are positive,” he said. 

“We don’t sit down and consciously say, ‘Lets write a song like this or like that.’ It’s just we write a song.”

Reflecting both of their influences, the duo has described their music as a cross between Johnny Cash and June Carter and the Beatles. Comparisons also have been made to Brandi Carlile, Ray Lamontagne and Little Big Town.

Sean Slavin grew up a fan of the Beatles, particularly John Lennon, while Karen listened to Jimmy Hendrix.

“He embodies all the ideals on how people should live,” Slavin said of Lennon.

It was his love of Beatles music, and a push by his mother, that inspired him to learn guitar. 

Sean met Karen while she worked as a waitress as a single mom. Engaged to someone else at the time, he and his family were regular customers where Karen worked. The two learned of their shared interest in music, and played an open mic together one night.

They eventually lost touch. But years later, after Sean and his first wife had divorced, the Sean and Karen met up again. Sean saw Karen perform at Uncommon Ground in Chicago, and they began playing music together.

“I just thought, ‘Wow, this girl is amazingly entertaining and really talented,’ ” Sean remembered.

Sean also was playing in a metal band at the time, but left the band to work with Karen.

The two were married after two months of dating. They have three children, ages 3, 5 and 17.

Since performing regularly, they’ve had interest from major record labels. But, Sean said, it can be tough to make a living in the music industry. 

“I think if it’s meant to be, and you’re good enough and keep at it long enough, stuff happens,” Sean said. 

Even if they can’t always perform, Sean said he’d love to be able to work as a songwriter. For now, he said, they intend to keep plugging along, hoping to at least improve people’s moods with their songs or perhaps touch them in some way.

“We just want people to enjoy what we’ve done,” Sean said.

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access nwherald.com from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.