Shovels and Rope

My dad quoted a “statistic” the other day about how 1/3 of kids these days primarily get their news from Facebook.  “That’s crazy” I said, not feeling convicted at all.  Then I thought to myself that isn’t that bad, after all, Facebook is what brought on the musical- albeit one-sided love affair between myself Shovels and Rope.  Exhibit A:

If you have just spent the past thirty minutes watching other S&R youtube videos then you are not alone.  Shovels and Rope are a husband and wife duo out of Charleston, SC.  “Rowdy” is how I described their sound to my brother as he reluctantly listened to me ramble about how much I enjoyed their music.  Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent also have a inclination towards old Gibson acoustic guitars.  This pair of multi-generational Kalamazoo- born six strings frequent both the videos and live performances of Shovels and Rope.

Cary Ann’s Gibson LG-0

Cary Ann is playing a Gibson LG-0 made most likely between ’58 and ’62, judging from the straight bridge missing its pearl dots.  This was Gibson’s most affordable model from about ’58 to ’67 (in this general configuration).  The LG-0 was ladder braced and made from solid Mahogany.  The model didn’t receive a Spruce top until around ’68.  These guitars have that great old guitar feel and don’t commonly need repair other than a bridge reglue.  The tone is usually less desirable than one would expect from an old Gibson but with an average retail price of about $550 for one in good condition, they are a pretty good deal.  They are also good stage guitars since the bodies are a bit less resonant and therefore a bit less prone to feedback.  Cary Ann’s LG-0 sports a refinished (or maybe unfinished?) headstock.  She doesn’t seem to mind all that much.

Michael’s Gibson ES-150

Michael Trent is often seen playing his Gibson ES-150 made between about 1940 and 1942.  I’ve been trying to come across this version of the 150 because of that single “P-90-esque” pickup in the bridge position.  Gibson started used this pickup on the 150 around about 1940 but discontinued it sometime in ’42.  A similar pickup appears in ’55 on the Silvertone Espanada.  I’ve seen this pickup called the Gibson “P13” pickup, which was supposedly a precursor to the P-90.
The ES-150 features an arched, solid Spruce top with tone bar bracing.  Some say that the tone bars are a bit heavier than normal Gibson archtops of the time to limit feedback.  I doubt that it is enough to tame this feedback beast.  That pickup is hot and full of tube saturating power.  I have never had the honor of playing one of these but maybe one is in my future.

“Oh, Be Joyful”

Look for for the first Shovels and Rope full length album, “Oh, Be Joyful” and give it a listen.  You may enjoy the first single of that album titled “Birmingham” which happens to be the name of my home town. I’m quite taken with this oldie, “Hell’s Bells.”

Here is a link to their Tumblr:


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