By: Shelby Monita (@shelbymonita) –
Every country music loving soul who has never set foot in Toronto’s Legendary Horseshoe Tavern filled the space on Saturday night for the South Carolina natives and alternative country duo, Shovels & Rope, who released their most recent album, O’ Be Joyful, last July via Dualtone Records, and their first headlining tour.
Shovels & Rope
The folk rock duo that recently received the stamp of approval from Jack White, Shovels & Rope took the stage. The married couple, Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, who changed her fiery red hair to blonde, spoke with an enchanting southern drawl as they charmed the audience while giving them a reason to dance.
The show stealing songs through the night were “Birmingham”, “Kemba’s got the Cabbage Moth Blues” and “Cavalier”, and with each, the fans kicked their feet and sang a long, making the show a big city’s take on a hootenanny. The lovely couple stared into each other’s eyes when they shared the microphone and lovingly shared the drum set, going back and forth with playing percussion. Trent and Hearst didn’t speak to the audience much, but when they did it was to make obvious statements, such as when Trent said to Hearst, “Girl, remember when we were an underdog and no one used to come to our show and now people come to our show.” Though this was true, the Horseshoe was sold out and if they come back there is no doubt the show will be in a bigger space. By the time the encore rolled around they made the odd choice by closing with a song that isn’t their own, but is still close to their hearts. Shovels and Ropes had the privilege that smaller bands dream of, they recently recorded at Jack White’s studio/label Third Man Records. While there, they recorded two covers, Bruce Springsteen’s, “Johnny 99” and Tom Waits’ “Bad as Me”, the latter is the song that closed the show.
Overall, Shovels & Rope pulled at the heartstrings of every country/folk fanatic in attendance. High energy, love and grace is what best describes this adorable and fun-loving couple is a band worth checking out and blasting through the speakers for your next BBQ.
The night began with the Austin, Texas act, Shakey Graves, a one-man band, who’s real name is Alejandro Rose-Garcia, who uses a guitar, a bass drum and a tambourine. It was hard to understand if the decision to be a folk/bluegrass solo act was for the artistic liberties or if it came from self-indulgence. It takes talent and courage to be up there alone and pull it off, but the act got old after a while. In the beginning, the crowd was in awe of what they were watching, though half way through all the songs began to sound the same and the conversations amongst the audience became more loud and frequent. The set lasted unusually long for an opener, a total of an hour, and once it was over, it was finally over.