Shovels and Rope Perform at Door Community Auditorium

Shovels and Rope will perform at the DCA on July 8. Photo by Natalie Kardos.

“We’re pretty passionate, definitely sweaty,” laughs Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels and Rope, an up-and-coming, energetic rock/roots/Americana/bluegrass band consisting of Hearst and her husband, Michael Trent. The duo will perform their original tunes, switching it up on guitar, drums, harmonica, keyboard, and vocals, at Door Community Auditorium in Fish Creek on July 8. “We make a lot of noise for two people,” says Hearst.

Their voices also compliment one another’s brilliantly – whether a soft murder ballad or a raucous rock song. “It’s surprisingly easy, and really fun,” says Trent of singing with his wife. “It’s not something we worked on. Cary Ann has an amazing voice, she’s a fantastic harmony singer.”

“Our voices are in the same register – it’s fun. Sometimes you can’t tell who’s singing lead; there are moments when our voices become interchangeable. We’re not screaming over each other, we use each other’s voices as a tool.”

The couple discovered their musical chemistry over the course of a few years. “We were in different bands, but friends, and ran in the same musical circles,” recalls Trent. In 2005 they began informally making music together, singing covers of the Ramones in Hearst’s house. In 2008 they recorded an album they titled Shovels & Rope, in reference to the handful of murder ballads it featured.

Though they performed in separate bands, they continued to play low-key gigs as a duo, using borrowed drums and old guitars. Their popularity soared and the duo took the show on the road.

“People are impressed, we’re pretty kinetic, busy,” says Hearst, who came from a family of bluegrass musicians. “I was like sign me up!” Trent also came from a family of musicians, but was less inclined to embrace bluegrass. “I was always around music from an early age,” he says. “My dad tried to get me into bluegrass, but I ran running and screaming and started playing in rock bands.”

Finally Trent relented and now appreciates his bluegrass roots. “When we go to Michael’s house to visit his dad, in the first thirty minutes the guitars are out,” says Hearst.

When the couple visits Hearst’s family the topic of conversation quickly turns to music. “It’s more a discussion of who’s who in the songwriting community,” she says.

Both Trent and Hearst lend their songwriting skills to create their varied tunes. While touring throughout the country for two years the couple focused on songwriting, determined to make a record after the tour. “We would shout lyrics back and forth on route to a gig,” says Hearst. Whoever was driving spouted ideas and sang lines while the passenger scribbled notes. “That’s how the skeletons of the songs and chorus of our record came about,” she says.

That record is O’ Be Joyful, which has caused quite the stir, receiving substantial airtime and an opportunity for the couple to once again take their show on the road.

“We hope people are moved,” Hearst says of their upcoming show at Door Community Auditorium, “that they like how we sound.” With their vast array of genre-bending songs and energetic stage presence, that shouldn’t be a worry.

To learn more about Shovels and Rope, visit

Tickets range from $18 to $25. The show begins at 8 pm, and advance reservations are recommended. For tickets, call 920.868.2728, visit, or stop by the DCA box office. The box office is located at 3926 Highway 42 in Fish Creek and is open 12 – 5 pm, Monday through Friday.