Shovels and Rope with Parker Millsap 4/19/14 – The Bartlett, Spokane, WA
Review, photos and video by thenaturalstoner
Shovels and Rope brought their fantastic husband and wife band to one of Spokane, Washingtons newest music venues tonight and had the sold-out crowd dancing and jumping and hootin’ and hoolerin’ along for a solid 90 minute release of folk-country-rock energy. We got to The Bartlett around 7:30pm for the 8 o’clock show and opening act Parker Millsap and bandmates Michael Rose and Daniel Foulks came out to start the night soon after. Millsap is a young man from Oklahoma that has a fantastically weathered voice and stage presence that helps keep the audience easily captivated. My group was able to get a spot nice and close to the stage without feeling too cramped and Parkers set was longer than I expected it to be, getting about 9 or 10 songs in before exiting behind the stage. His soul, folk and blues songs kept me entertained and really had the other people in the room focused in as well.
Around 9:30 Shovels and Rope (married couple Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst) came out and the sold-out 150 person venue erupted as loud as they could. The audience packed in much tighter for this set, and the ballroom definitely felt a bit smaller than it had during the opener. For the most part the crowd was on their best behavior and full of fun energy tonight. The Bartlett is a pretty nice little place, and should be applauded for their decent selection of beers readily available at two different spots in the building.
Shovels and Rope is a band that I have been wanting to see live since first hearing about them on the Sasquatch Music Festival lineup a couple years back (on a year that I could not attend) and seeing them perform on the David Letterman show. Since missing that Memorial Day weekend in George I have waited for an opportunity to see this duo perform, and they did not disappoint tonight in Spokane. The hour and a half set mixed in songs from both of their prior albums, Shovels and Rope and O’ Be Joyful, plus some new material from an album they are currently working on.
I heard people in the crowd saying they traveled from as far away as Edmonton (over 600 miles) for this show, and everyone seemed to have a great time on that crowded dance floor. Musical highlights of the set included Hail Hail, Keeper, Boxcar and version of Birmingham that was slowed down and different than any version I have heard, which closed out the set. I thought all of the new songs sounded great as well. The band would leave to a huge roar, and came back for an encore that included a cover of Bruce Springsteens Nebraska track Johnny 99. Trent and Hearst traded instruments many times throughout the night and watching them bounce riffs off of each other and gaze into each others eyes while performing is a pretty neat thing.
If you like Americana music do not miss the chance to catch a Shovels and Rope set. And if you have an opportunity to see Parker Millsap and his band, they are worth checking out too!