October 17, 2016
Few bands pull at the heart strings like Charleston natives Shovels & Rope. Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, who have been married since 2009, brought their unique blend of Southern Americana punky rock-and-roll to Union Transfer on Saturday night in support of their new album, “Little Seeds.”
Seeing Shovels & Rope is akin to witnessing a professional game of musical chairs; they take turns playing guitar, drums, keyboard and various percussion instruments, with Trent also playing harmonica on a number of songs. The two-hour performance comprised songs from all five of their albums, including stirring renditions of “Gasoline,” “The Devil Is All Around,” “Hail Hail” and arguably their most-loved song, “Birmingham,” which won the Americana Music Association’s Song of the Year in 2013.
The two demonstrated their musical malleability time and again throughout the night, most notably when they treated their devoted audience to a feisty, sped-up cover of “Bad as Me” by Tom Waits — a musician whose spirit is not easy to channel. The intense love and penetrating connection between the couple were most palpable during their ballads, especially “St. Anne’s Parade” and “San Andreas Fault Line Blues” from their new album. They closed out the night with a three-song encore, during which they invited opener Matthew Logan Vasquez (of Delta Spirit fame) to join them on stage.