Ramblin' Rhodes: Shovels & Rope roping in followers

Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst are the duo Shovels & Rope.

The stage name of the Charleston, S.C., duo Shovels & Rope sounds like it might have come from a sign in a hardware store designating where those items are located.


It really comes from the songs about hangings and burials on Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent’s first joint album project. They titled their album Shovels & Rope and later adopted it also as their band name.

Nevertheless, Hearst and her husband, Trent, have been shoveling in great reviews and roping new fans with every performance of blues, country and folk rock.

The couple will return to Augusta on Saturday, Feb. 18, for a performance at Sky City nightclub, 1157 Broad St. Opening at 10 p.m. will be the Athens, Ga.,-rock band PacificUV. Admission is $5.

PacificUV was formed in Athens in 1998. The band’s song Alarmist was featured in the 2009 season-finalé of the Showtime drama Californication. Their third studio album, Weekends, was released last year.

Shovels & Rope was formed in 2008 when Houston, Texas,-born Trent hooked up in Georgia with Jackson, Miss.,-born Hearst.

“We met in Athens when we were with different bands and were both opening up for Jump Little Children, a band based in Charleston,” Trent said. “We started playing shows around the Southeast with Jump Little Children, so it made sense for us to move to Charleston.”

Trent, who spent his growing-up years in Denver, had been playing with the bands Tinkers Punishment and The Films. He said: “It was different versions of the same group of my school friends.”

Hearst, who grew up in Nashville, Tenn., had been playing in the bands The Boonies, The Borrowed Angels and also Cary Ann Hearst and The Gunstreet Girls. She was the only woman in that last group.

Life growing up in Music City U.S.A. was full of many musical influences for Hearst.

“I knew a lot of kids here and there who were the children of famous songwriters, and I did spend a lot of time seeing shows in the Ryman Auditorium,” she related.

“I even saw James Brown do a show there. My school one time also took us kids to the Ryman and had each of us stand before the WSM microphone on stage one by one and sing something so we could say that we had sung at the Ryman.”

Soul and country music especially are deep loves of Hearst.

“My mother loves really good rhythm and blues, so I got her some Sharon Jones records for gifts this past Christmas,” Hearst said of another of Augusta’s great soul music singers.

Trent’s love of music crosses musical lines with some of his favorite artist-writers being Townes Van Zandt (whom Hearst-Trent named their dog after), Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello.

“I didn’t know Townes Van Zandt also was from Texas when I stumbled upon some of his music,” Trent said.

“I just liked the way he used words. There just was something extra special about him intelligence wise.”

Hearst and Trent married in 2009 at a winery on an island off of South Carolina’s coast.

Shovels & Rope gradually has been gaining a devoted following throughout the United States from both their in-person performances and CD releases.

Besides their 2008 self-titled CD, the couple also has released their solo projects on their own Shrimp Records label: Hearst with Lions & Lambs and Trent with The Winner.

Hearst’s solo CD spawned her recording of Hells Bells, which was heard in 2010 on the HBO cable TV series True Blood.

Their next joint project, O’ Be Joyful, is due out this spring.

“The recordings are done,” Hearst said. “We’re just trying to figure out the way we’re going to put the album out. I think it’s a joyful record. It’s a happier record than we’ve done before. There are some beautiful tender songs on there. We wrote more together on this one. It’s going to have some surprises on it for sure.”


LEE ANN WOMACK COMING: Country star Lee Ann Womack will perform at the fund raiser for the Jud C. Hickey Center for Alzheimer's Care, which starts at 8:30 p.m. March 1 at the Country Club Dance Hall and Saloon, 2834 Washington Road. Josh Thompson also will perform. Tickets are $20. Call (706) 738-5039.

Womack is known for her singles The Fool, Never Again, A Little Past Little Rock, I’ll Think of a Reason Later and the Grammy-winning classic I Hope You Dance.


RAY PRICE REMINDER: You might want to catch legendary country star Ray Price at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, at the Newberry (S.C.) Opera House. Tickets are $45. Call (803) 276-6264 or buy online at newberryoperahouse.com. Among Price’s long list of giant hits are For the Good Times, Release Me, Crazy Arms, Heartaches By The Number, City Lights, Night Life, I Won’t Mention It Again, You’re the Best Thing and That Ever Happened to Me.