JACKSON, Wyo. — It’s not often a common story in the music biz to see a band soar in popularity and more-or-less stay true to their sound and lineup. Enter Shovels & Rope, the husband-and-wife duo Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent. This year, they celebrate the 10th Anniversary of O’ Be Joyful, arguably their defining launch into the decade to come. This Saturday at the Center Theater, they’ll stir a racket with acoustic and electric guitars, a handful of harmonicas, keyboard bass, a drum kit, and energetic folk-blues duets that blend Southern-bred, whiskey-throated X and Y chromosomes like a coveted batch of your grand pappy’s shine. 

A decade ago, this review of O’ Be Joyful ran in defunct local rag Planet Jackson Hole, and it still stands up to what they bring to stage:

“The country-folk female/male blend of Shovels & Rope sums up more than just solid harmony singing and introspective songwriting. It’s all about character and color, and a lyrically panoramic edge to the collaborative writing. There’s subtle, even unintended impreciseness that makes this recording real and rootsy, back porchy, and true to the duo’s live instrumentation. Then I found out it was recorded in the twosome’s house, backyard and van, and it all makes sense. Additional tracking was even squeezed in between soundcheck and show time while on tour.”

Arguably, ShoRo is making some of the most raucously beautiful, sincere music of a generation, and doing it on their terms—an indie band homerun success story. And in terms of their latest release and sixth studio album, Manticore, Trent describes it as “not heavy metal, but in our guts, it fells a bit like heavy metal.”

Be sure to show up early for the opener, Tré Burt. Burt is only one of two artists added to John Prine’s Oh Boy Records in recent years, and it stems directly from his poet’s eye for detail and a natural knack for folk singer melodies.

Center for the Arts presents Shovels & Rope with Tré Burt at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Center Theater. Tickets are $38-$58. jhcenterforthearts.org.

YouTube video

Aaron Davis is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and producer-engineer at Three Hearted Recording Studio, covering the Teton County music scene as a journalist-photographer since 2005.