MUSIC BOX: Grand Goodbye
Outdoor concert series JH Live concludes with indie darlings Shovels & Rope.
JACKSON HOLE, WY – Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent have made mountains out of molehills. Even after taking a brief hiatus to have their first child, Shovels & Rope has the momentum to summit whatever they like. They’ll headline the final installment of Jackson Hole Live this Friday along with Wyoming flatpicking hero Jalan Crossland and an opening set from Margo Valiante.
Shovels & Rope, or ShoRo as they’re fervent fan base has come to know them, are on the heels of releasing a third LP, Little Seeds, October 7 on New West Records. The bold video release of the album’s first single, “I Know,” depicts a drag show beauty contest with an interesting twist. The electrified blues shuffle with raw harmonies is inspired by English rock band T. Rex and Scottish alt-rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain.
“Competition can be an ugly side of show business, where friendly rivalries can devolve into petty jealousies,” Trent and Hearst told Noisey. “In our video for ‘I Know,’ we dress those ugly feelings up all pretty and pit them against each other in a beauty contest.”
The new album follows up last year’s covers album, Busted Jukebox: Volume 1, which featured guests Shakey Graves, Milk Carton Kids, Caroline Rose, and Preservation Hall Jazz Band. It’s a fun album, at times, but doesn’t touch the originality that breathes from the duo’s first two releases—2012’s O’ Be Joyful and 2014’s Swimmin’ Time. Yet on Little Seeds, they ditch the narrative songwriting and turn to the personal experiences around them—a friend’s death, Alzheimer’s diagnosis of a parent, having their first child, a local shooting in their hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. They also branch out instrumentally, adding mandolin, the autoharp, and new organ sounds. It’ll be interesting to see how they incorporate these sounds into the live show, where they have been switching off on drums/keyboard, bass and guitar.
“With each record we’ve broadened the distance between the quietest and the loudest we can be,” Hearst told The Wall Street Journal.
At the 2013 Americana Awards, the group won Americana Song of the Year for “Birmingham,” and also took home Emerging Artist of the Year honors though they had truly emerged years before. Shovels & Rope 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.
Speaking of homespun workhorses, Wyoming Governor’s Arts Award recipient Jalan Crossland is a great fit for this bill and marks an overdue return to Jackson since touring with The WYOmericana Caravan in 2013. He’s a state treasure, funny dude, witty-as-hell songwriter, and one of the finest, quirkiest guitar/banjo players in the West. Crossland even staged a trailer burning video earlier this summer to accompany one of his signature tunes from the 2007 album of the same name, “Trailer Park Fire.” Across six studio albums, his other anthems worthy of an immediate listen include “Chicken Trucker,” “Bosler,” “Hoboerotica,” and “The Mad Carpenter.” He’ll be sans band, solo acoustic.
Valiante, a Jackson native who moved to Austin, Texas, several years ago before migrating to New York City, will open the show. She released the EP I Can’t Pray in 2010, the full-length New Blue in 2008, and about a year ago surfaced with an indie-tinged folk rock single, “Weight of Your Heart.” She’s a pure, soulful vocalist and a great rhythm guitarist that hasn’t gigged publically in her hometown in quite some time.
Jackson Hole Live presents Shovels & Rope with Jalan Crossland and Margo Valiante, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday at Snow King Ball Field. $5 adults, 17 and under free. JacksonHoleLiveMusic.com.
Fruit Bats headlines a triple freebie
From country-rock stomp to shimmering astral sounds and folk-pop, F
ruit Bats has been making records since 2001. Formed in Chicago in 1997, the project has revolved around the music of Eric D. Johnson. He was also a member of The Shins from 2007 to 2011 on keyboards, guitar, banjo and backing vocals, as well as a sideman for Vetiver.
The evolution of Fruit Bats can be heard with a sampling of their discography, which is an enjoyable ride for this first-time listener. It’s remarkable to discover an artist that has been around for so long, with such a solid catalog, later in his career. Johnson has maintained quality output with simplistic songs, and a voice that is commanding and high-pitched yet somehow lulling.
Rounding out this triple bill in Teton Village is The Watters and Stormy Georjan, the latter of which is a bit myserious. There is zero info on Stormy Georjan floating around on the inter webs. The Watters, formerly known as The Oak Creek Band, is an Austin-based soul-rock-Americana outfit led by husband-and-wife team Daniel and Jenna Watters, blending the idea of Fleetwood Mac meets Tedeschi Trucks Band and Rilo Kiley. PJH
Concert on the Commons presents Fruit Bats with The Watters and Stormy Georjan, 5 p.m. Sunday at the Village Commons in Teton Village. Free, all ages. ConcertOnTheCommons.com.
Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.
The Hof Band (Alpenhof); Greg Creamer & Ted Wells (Warbirds)
Jeff Austin Band (Knotty Pine); Major Zephyr (Silver Dollar)
Shovels & Rope with Jalan Crossland and Margo Valiante (Snow King Ball Field); DeadPhish Orchestra (Town Square Tavern)
Hot Buttered Rum (Town Square Tavern); Jackson 6 (Silver Dollar)
Fruit Bats with The Watters and Stormy Georjan (Village Commons)
The Minor Keys (Jackson Lake Lodge)
Canyon Kids (Hatch)