Written by Sarah Wall
On Friday, March 18, Shovels & Rope took the Brooklyn Arts Center’s stage and blew the sold-out crowd away with their performance. Husband and wife musical duo Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hurst describe their style as primarily folk with elements of rock and roll, country, blues, and gospel, all of which were present in the wide variety of music played throughout the night.
Trent and Hurst started off the show with the song “Boxcar,” which was the first tune that the couple ever wrote together. Between the two of them, they played an impressive amount of instruments during this song. Hurst played the guitar and Trent played the harmonica while using his left hand to play the drums and his right to hold a maraca...that he used to play the tambourine and the cymbal.
Shovels & Rope played many of their classic hits such as “Magdelina,” “The Devil Is All Around,” and crowd favorite, “Birmingham.” The Friday night BAC show was a seated concert, but when “Birmingham” started, the entire audience got on their feet to dance and sing along.
In addition to these old favorites, Trent and Hurst played a few new songs. Trent explained that since this was “An Evening with Shovels & Rope” and it was longer than most performances, they wanted to spice things up with some new music. The first new song was “The San Andreas Fault Line Blues” which featured Trent on piano and Hurst playing the accordion. Another new tune, the last song of the set, had Trent on mandolin and the couple singing into a single microphone. The chorus of this as yet untitled song included the line: “I need more fingers to count the ones I love. This life may be too good to survive”—a sweet, sentimental conclusion to the show.
However, the audience wasn’t quite ready for the night to be over. When Trent and Hurst left the stage, the crowd cheered and cheered until they returned for an encore. Shovels & Rope played two more songs. First, they sang “Shank Hill St.” and then Trent said, “Let’s finish the night with a little rock and roll,” and he and his wife launched into “Hail Hail.”
As the crowd filed out of the BAC, spirits high from the fantastic music, they knew they had been a part of a special evening with Shovels & Rope.