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Shovels & Rope Moving Up in Music World

Shovels and Rope
Frederick Breedon, Getty Images for Americana Music Festival

Shovels & Rope consider themselves to be living in the lap of luxury — except for them, luxury looks more like a comfortable Winnebago View than a pimped-out tour bus.

The husband and wife duo, made up of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, recently graduated from sleeping in their van — which was also used to haul their equipment — to purchasing a sleek but small RV to carry them across the country on their tour, and they couldn’t be happier with their new purchase.

“Basically like us buying our first house,” Trent tells the Nashville Scene. “It was this thing that we get to use and work out of, but it’s the biggest loan that either one of us has ever dealt with — especially as a married couple. It was a long hard process to make that happen. There were tears of joy when we finally did make it happen. We didn’t think it would.”

But far from feeling proud of their new home on wheels, the Americana act say it came with a mixture of emotions. “We had a lot of guilt when we bought the RV,” Trent admits. “We were kinda like …”

“Sheepish about it,” Hearst adds, concerned about the image they portray to the their loyal fans. “‘What will they say about us?’”

For the couple, though, it is a sign of success in an industry that hasn’t always welcomed their brand of folk-infused music. They remember, with some measure of fondness, the early days, when after their set, they would jump off the stage and share the duties of both selling their merchandise and taking their sound equipment back out to their van.

“You did get to know your fans,” Hearst recalls of their humble beginnings. “And now it’s a little bit more difficult to get out there to them, I think. I hope their feelings aren’t hurt by that. It’s just a little bit different now that we are responsible for everything. … You sure do appreciate it when you’ve got a merch guy.”

Shovels & Rope, who in addition to their RV and merch guy, also acquired a tour manager, are clearly doing something right. Their recent performances include appearing on ‘The Late Show With David Letterman,’ and serving as the opening act for a sold-out Dawes show at the Ryman.

The couple, who signed to Dualtone Records for their latest album, ‘O’ Be Joyful,’ are part of the growing popularity of Americana music, which seems to be resonating more and more with music fans looking for something fresh and interesting.

“We’re getting pitched a lot of bands that sound a lot like the Lumineers, or duos that sound like the Civil Wars, or in the vein of what Shovels & Rope do,” label head Paul Roper explains. “It’s like everybody with a kick drum and a mandolin wants us to put out their record. But I think for us, while we’ve seen what’s possible with this type of music, we also want to continue to bring different styles of music to the forefront of what’s going on.”

Shovels & Rope are undoubtedly moving in the right direction. The pair picked up two trophies at last week’s Americana Honors & Awards ceremony, for Emerging Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for their single, ‘Birmingham.’

They are currently in the middle of their fall tour, which will play in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota this week. View all of their upcoming shows here.

Next: See a List of the Winners at the 2013 Americana Honors & Awards

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