The ability of two people to rock a venue like Union Transfer from the stage all the way to the back of the balcony is certainly rare. On Wednesday night Shovels & Rope showed they can do this from their first notes to the last in a rousing hootenanny before a packed house.
Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst are husband and wife and the duo of Shovels & Rope. Switching from drums to guitar and back throughout the night, they show great versatility. Their love for music and each other shines through as well. Drawing out every beat and note they can from their various instruments and their voices, the crowd and them become one in a musical exchange of appreciation and joy. Their crowning musical achievement of “Birmingham” was frontloaded into the set as the third song played. The crowd rejoiced not just at this high point but at every set turn, whether it be from their older material or their 2014 Swimmin’ Time.
Sweat and smiles filled Union Transfer throughout the night in the form of the percussive and guitar majesty of Trent and Hearst. A folk love letter from a deep past unearthed to gratify our often jaded modern ears, Shovels & Rope are a genuine blast of fresh air that must be seen and heard to be believed.
The folk musings of John Fullbright opened the night. The Oklahoma singer-songwriter showcased music from his sophomore album Songs, released in May of this year.