Denver — Shovels and Rope, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, are a family. Their second night at the Ogden Theatre was their last night on tour. Cary Ann took time to thank “the crew” including their tour manager who was “doing sound.” She also thanked the nanny and her baby backstage. Their crew sounds like a tight group of travelers and the sound of their music is greater than two musicians. Cary Ann and Michael, married since 2009, are a hard working family. Their music is gritty and comes from every place their bodies can pour it out, arms, legs, voices and hearts.
Just two people on stage, they traded instruments with each other for the entirety of their set. Both sang, both played the drums, the guitar and the piano. Michael played the harmonica. Behind them the light shifted through wooden pallets, stacked end to end, and made it’s way to the stage like the floor of an old barn. It felt like a South Carolina farmhouse somewhere across the border from the Blue Ridge Parkway. As they played, in the center of the stage, looking into one another’s eyes, movies, skeletons and the open road all projected on the raw screen behind them. They sat across from one another and just poured their souls out as they sang. The music is clean and simple, there’s no place to hide flaws. They played, and played energetically, until just before midnight, ending their performance with a simple humble bow to the audience. It was a classy performance the likes of eTown or Austin City Limits, relive it through the photos.