Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Shovels & Rope at the Bowery Ballroom

Cary Ann Hearst was born in Mississippi and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, until 1997 when she enrolled in college in Charleston, South Carolina. While in school, she began performing as a solo artist in local venues. After graduating she toured, recorded and performed with various groups. Michael Trent was born in Texas and was raised in Denver, Colorado, but in 2002 relocated to Charleston, where he performed with his band the Films. Hearst released her first solo album in 2006 and Trent released his first solo album in 2007. In 2008 Hearst and Trent teamed for an album called Shovels & Rope, not intending to become a permanent duo. Hearst and Trent married in 2009 and continued to perform and record solo albums. In 2012, the pair committed to their joint venture and released an album together under the Shovels & Rope moniker. By 2013, the duo had won two Americana Music Association awards. The band's fifth joint album, Little Seeds, was released on October 7, 2016. Hearst and Trent have a year-old daughter and raise chickens at their home on Johns Island, South Carolina.

Shovels & Rope is simply Hearst and Trent, alternately playing guitars and drums with some keyboards and mandolin thrown in, and so at the Bowery Ballroom tonight the engaging beauty of the music was its raw, loose and scrappy basement sound. The two musicians shared more than instruments as they blended traditional folk, country, bluegrass, rock and roll, and cowpunk for an eclectic stew. Most songs were sung in unison, sounding somewhere between Johnny Cash with June Carter, X and Lucius. Both musicians intertwined their distinctive voices and yet their vocal chemistry originated from a shared intimacy, a special harmonization that allowed them on softer songs to sing from the same microphone as if they were romancing each other. The performance captured a joy-filled front-porch hootenanny feel. Opener Matthew Logan Vasquez of Delta Spirit joined Shovels & Rope on one song.

Visit Shovels & Rope at www.shovelsandrope.com.