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Review: Shovels and Rope at Bluebird

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Shovels and Rope
The Bluebird (Bloomington)
Oct. 7

If you were to head into a kitchen and cook up the band Shovels and Rope, the recipe would call for three parts rock, two parts country, two parts folk and a dash of the blues. Mix thoroughly, serve extremely hot. On Tuesday night, the Bluebird was the oven and Shovels & Rope were the delicious, satisfying main course. We gorged on the raw energy and walked away feeling sated.

Shovels and Rope, the husband and wife duo Michael Trent and Carey Ann Hearst from Charleston, showcased their stripped down and energetic sound with every song. The talented multi-instrumentalists played a rousing game of musical chairs as they shared duties singing vocals, playing the drums, guitar, and keyboard — often doing three of the four simultaneously. There were numerous songs where both Trent and Hearst could be found playing the drums with their left hand and feet, all while playing the keyboard with their right hand and singing. Not even several broken guitar strings could slow down this duo; both artists found themselves one string short of the original six somewhere during the night. After opening the show with a rousing rendition of “Birmingham,” Hurst notified the crowd that, “Tonight’s gonna be a Rock & Roll night” and they dove into an energetic and spirited set list. A two-song encore, with the help of opening act John Fullbright, followed. All in all, this was an entertaining concert by a band that I wouldn't want to miss the next time the return to the area.

Oklahoman John Fullbright was the opening act (appetizer?). He started his 40-minute set by proclaiming that his presence at the show was akin to a blind date and that while the crowd was unsure of what the set would bring, he hoped that they would enjoy him. The set started out folky but quickly drifted into the blues with Fullbright exchanging his acoustic guitar for a piano. The set was full of well-written songs while Fullbright kept things light with playful banter with the crowd in between.

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