To celebrate Shovel & Rope’s strongest release of their career, Little Seeds, the duo of Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent played three packed shows at NYC’s best venue, Bowery Ballroom, and Wednesday night’s (10/19) showcase proved what a talent they are.
Before the headliner though extra attention should be given to Matthew Logan Vasquez, frontman for Delta Spirit, performed a set that was far from his rockin other band. Sounding like the Meat Puppets or the Violent Femmes with a lightning bolt up their ass the trio put on a noisy, hell raising opening set. The song “Maria” was full of aggression, yelping and thunderous feedback as the players blasted out to a filling up ballroom. Covering Nirvana (“Where Did You Sleep Last Night”) and screeching about the Texas heat (while tossing in a “Suspicious Mind” tease) the group did their job in warming up the audience while breaking strings and slamming straight on til dawn, winning new fans in the process.
It was only a brief break before “I Know” rolled out and the crowd started bopping to Shovels & Rope unique mix of country, fuzz rock and folk roll. The yin and yang pull of the band was evident by the second song selection “Tickin’ Bomb,” balanced with “I don’t know you/But I know of you/And from what I know/I think I love you”.
The group’s Little Seeds deservedly got a lot of play including the band’s tribute to The Band’s Garth Hudson titled “The Last Hawk” which soared. Trent mentioned the duo got an opportunity to record some covers at Thirdman Records and a few of those were smashes on this night including the husband and wife’s take on Tom Waits “Bad As Me” and the show stealing boogie woogie piano breakout of Bruce Springsteen’s “Johnny 99”.
Hearst took just over a half hour before she mentioned the political bullshit on television this night, and thanked the crowd for being compassionate and coming out instead. After that statement the group got their twang on, delving into their version of country with “Keeper” and “The Devil Is All Around”. Piano acoustic duets followed with “San Andreas Fault Line Blues” before more hip shaking returned via the new “Invisible Man”. “Missionary Ridge” brought out the mandolin and a mini history lesson while “St. Anne’s Parade” closed the set on a delicate tone but not before the ladies in attendance got to shake and slam their cowboy boots for “Birmingham”.
The encore was just a cherry on top as the Charleston, SC duo had already delivered over an hour and a half of great tunes, but “Buffalo Nickel” showcased their Dead Weather meets June and Johnny Cash style expertly. Both Shovels & Rope and Matthew Logan Vasquez performed swimmingly on the night, invigorating the fans and shining a bright light on the future of their tunes.