Heaton Duo to Release New Irish Single and Video

St. Patrick’s Day release of reimagined traditional ballad resonates contemporary issues of gender identity, relationships and heartbreak

Matt & Shannon Heaton amongst their deconstructed home during the creation of the “Cabin Boy” single and video, courtesy image

McGRATHPR.com – Boston-based Irish music duo Matt & Shannon Heaton, world class American performers with Irish roots and universal appeal, are releasing a new single and video – an original take on the old ballad “Cabin Boy”. The powerhouse duo is known both as a couple, for their updated traditional take on Irish music, and revered individually as widely accomplished solo artists.

“As a society we are resurfacing the dialogue defining gender, sexuality, identity and courtship. In terms of traditional ballads, this is old news,” shares Shannon.  “For me, singing ‘Cabin Boy’ is a lesson in empathy and human fragility.” As an ambassador of music tradition, as a flute player, singer and composer, Shannon also hosts the popular culture podcast “Irish Music Stories,” exploring universal themes through the lens of Irish music and dance.  A leader in the music scene, she was named Female Musician of the Year by Irish American News in 2009, receiving many accolades for her efforts since.  Equally accomplished, Matt has performed widely with numerous Irish ensembles, amongst other diverse musicianship.

The Heatons’ home during the renovation process, courtesy image

Recorded amidst the couple’s dramatic home reconstruction (yielding ample pressure on the dynamics of their romantic relationship and family), the stark, deconstructed setting struck a parallel chord in the song’s piercing lyrics. The refreshingly raw portrayal of gender identities and heartbreak of the tune deeply resonated with this musical couple.

In “Cabin Boy,” the central character, a female disguised in men’s sailor threads, crosses the ocean in desperate search of her true love. The ship’s captain unknowingly takes the imposter closely under his wing, unexpectedly falling in love with him (in actuality, her). She begs the captain to keep silent, in fear that his loyal crew will lose their faith in his integrity and mock him. When they reach their destination, the captain begs her to stay aboard. As the song draws to an end, the lyrics remain unresolved, leaving the listener questioning the possibility of the happily-ever-after fairytale ending.

The construction underway in the Heatons’ home, courtesy image

The song’s rough-hewn imagery struck the Heatons at the core, all the while living with little insulation from the cold, limited electricity, and a greatly reduced living space themselves. To preserve their sanity and musical mindset, they eeked out practice sessions in the dark, brushing against dusty, demolished walls and starkly exposed beams.  “Playing ‘Cabin Boy’ in our deconstructed home somehow mirrors the honesty and discomfort in this song. There’s a yearning, a lack of resolution,” shares singer and flute instrumentalist Shannon. “We’d practice it, then stop to talk about how we’ve got it pretty easy. I mean here we are, this married couple nestled in our home, in juxtaposition to this single woman and gay man drifting abroad at sea and in life, navigating romance in the close, dark quarters of a ship.”

Performing Artist Matt Heaton, courtesy image

Singing about doomed romance and imagining the rough nautical setting helped the Heatons keep their perspective through dark and dusty months of construction. It made them wonder what the rigors of sea-life did to influence the fictional couple, and so many other couples commonly paralleled in these recurring, sentimental ballads.

Recording and releasing this single in early spring, and on St. Patrick’s Day, is symbolic for guitar instrumentalist Matt. “We rehearse and perform Irish music 365 days a year. St. Patrick’s Day always peaks the attention of music lovers to this culture’s music. But what if the spotlight on the season could highlight a memorable tune that resonates, transcending cultural and gender barriers, an emblem of today’s modern world and challenges?”  Aside from the depth of thought, both Matt and Shannon couldn’t pass up the opportunity to celebrate the culmination of their own little renovated ‘cabin’. 

Shannon and Matt Heaton, courtesy image

Known for their warm connection with audiences, Matt & Shannon Heaton perform updated and traditional Irish music on flute, accordion, guitar, bouzouki, and with vocals. With engaging stage presence and masterfully crafted music, the Heatons engage audiences in well-travelled Irish music from the heart. Steeped in sessions in County Clare and brewed in the acoustic music scenes of Chicago and Boston, their instrumentals coupled with sweet husband-and-wife harmony singing draw deeply from the Irish tradition. 

Performing Artist Shannon Heaton, during the duo’s recording of “Cabin Boy”, courtesy image

Settling in Boston in 2001, the Heatons have become an integral part of the city’s vibrant trad music scene. Shannon co-founded Boston’s Celtic Music Fest and served on its board for 15 years, creating performance and mentoring opportunities for hundreds of traditional musicians and dancers. She was named Massachusetts Traditional Artist Fellow in 2016, and hosts the culture podcast “Irish Music Stories.” Matt has performed with countless Irish ensembles. In addition to his work as an Irish accompanist, Matt is an active performer for children and families. He has received multiple Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) grants for his engaging sing-alongs and rockabilly tinged albums. He also fronts the surf-rock band The Electric Heaters. 

To listen to the new “Cabin Boy” single, or view the video captured in the Heaton’s deconstructed home, visit mattandshannonheaton.com, available for download on or after March 17.  For more information about performances, albums and events, visit mattandshannonheaton.com, or follow Matt & Shannon Heaton on Facebook and Instagram.  For more information about Irish Music Stories podcast, visit shannonheatonmusic.com/ims, or follow on most major podcast platforms. 

About Matt & Shannon Heaton

Boston-based duo Matt & Shannon Heaton are world class American performers with Irish roots and universal appeal. Known for their warm connection with audiences, they perform updated and traditional Irish music on flute, accordion, guitar, bouzouki and with vocals. 

Steeped in sessions in County Clare and brewed in the acoustic music scenes of Chicago and Boston, their instrumentals coupled with sweet husband-and-wife harmony singing draw deeply from the Irish tradition. They also incorporate Shannon’s childhood experiences with Thai music and the rootsy Americana sounds that surrounded the couple during their three years in Boulder, Colorado. With engaging stage presence and masterfully crafted music, the Heatons offer well-travelled music from the heart. 

Settling in Boston in 2001, the Heatons have become an integral part of the city’s vibrant trad music scene. Shannon co-founded Boston’s Celtic Music Fest and served on its board for 15 years, creating performance and mentoring opportunities for hundreds of traditional musicians and dancers. She was named Massachusetts Traditional Artist Fellow in 2016, and hosts the culture podcast “Irish Music Stories.” Matt has performed with countless Irish ensembles. In addition to his work as an Irish accompanist, Matt is an active performer for children and families. He has received multiple Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) grants for his engaging sing-alongs and rockabilly tinged albums. He also fronts the surf-rock band The Electric Heaters. 

For more information, visit mattandshannonheaton.com, or follow Matt & Shannon Heaton on Facebook and Instagram. For more information about Irish Music Stories podcast, visit shannonheatonmusic.com/ims, or follow on most major podcast platforms.