Though the name sounds a bit ominous, Shovels and Rope’s music is nothing short of a good time. The group adopted that name after releasing an album with the same title. The songs off that record are a collection of murder ballads, telling grim stories about digging and hanging, but that content doesn’t entirely sum up the music of Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent.
Let’s say you were taking a long walk through a dark wood; these are the sounds you’d want to hear if you stumbled into a clearing, alone, unarmed and open to the celebration of good company. It’s campfire music that could find itself equally at home in a dusty, half-empty tavern.
Hearst’s vocals are bare-boned, powerful and compelling. Trent is a throwback, whose aptitude on the drums and harmonica is matter-of-fact solid. Hailing from Charleston, S.C., this duo has been on the road since 2010 and recently embarked upon a coast-to-coast tour that lands them Tuesday in Eugene. If you love harmony-driven folk music, old drums, tambourines and lonesome vocals, this is a band you will want to experience.
After touring with the likes of Hayes Carll, The Felice Brothers and Butch Walker, Shovels and Rope has cultivated a solid live show. Put it this way: The band played 200 shows in 2011, and any musician whose been on the road can tell you that a year like that will solidify any band worth its salt. You either make it or break it after that many gigs, and Shovels and Rope has emerged with guns blazing. Run for cover, or just pay the cover and enjoy the music. You won’t be disappointed.
Shovels and Rope plays 8 pm Tuesday, July 31, at Axe and Fiddle; $5.