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Shovels and Rope with Son Volt Shine Brightly at NCMA

Review by Sheryl Bryant: Imagine my thrill when I opened the envelope at Will Call to an official  Stage Crew All Access pass!  I must confess, this gesture set the mood and vibe for an awesome little event.  Thank you NCMA!

Son Volt opened the double billed show powerfully.  They brought their brazenly big brand of alternative country rock to the packed venue on this extremely warm, sticky June night.  The alternative country cowboys were wearing all black western wear and blue jeans  set neatly against a white backdrop.  Son Volt looks and plays the part like naturals.  The night was aglow as two bright red guitars flashed in the last of the sun’s UV rays.

Son Volt has a trademark sound and style that fans adore, and this show was no different. Highlights (in no particular order ) of their hour long, solid 15 song set went this way:


Hearts and Minds

Tear Stained Eyes

Looking at the World Through a Windshield

Afterglow 61


As a memorial tribute to the late, great Tom Petty,  Son Volt performed an especially touching rendition of Petty’s  “Walls.”

Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels and Rope rolled out onto the Amphitheater stage at 9:36 to tremendous applause.  The breeze had begun to gently blow and provided much appreciated relief to the heat index.

Shovels and Rope lit into a litany of songs, ultimately playing songs  from the vault and more recent material. The creativity and chemistry of this duo allows them to sparkle like fireworks.  Every show is revolving , much like riding on a carousel.  They have an eclectic, energetic  way of blending  indie,  folk, Americana,  and a tinge of garage rock that few bands can pull off .  I like to call it “Jamericana”

Trent and Hearst virtually played musical chairs during their gigs;  frenetically rotating between instruments  and duties.   Both musicians can play electric guitar, acoustic guitar ;  keyboards,  and drums.  Trent is also talented on mandolin and harmonica as well.  Both Trent and Hearst are extremely good lead vocalists;  both are exceptional at  backing vocals and harmonies also.

Though most of the songs S&R performed during the show were familiar, the pair shared three new songs with the crowd.  Speaking about the challenges and rewards of fatherhood and wishing “all you fathers  out there a Happy Father’s Day”, they told a story of a father struggling to get back to his children on a magical horse  in the  beautiful “Come on Utah”.  Another of the new songs the partners presented was  “Good Ol’ Days” , a heartfelt ballad and tribute to a long time friend who was lost to gun violence.

Reaction from the crowd was highly spirited and never wavered throughout the show.   The following songs were especially well received:


I Know

San Andreas Fault Line Blues


I’m Your Man

The Devil is All Around

It was a great night for Son Volt and Shovels and Rope fans, and a wonderful  Father’s  Day present  for those fathers in attendance.

As always, thanks goes out to The North Carolina Museum of Art staff , security and organizers for their courtesy and generosity.   Gratitude is also extended to  the Cat’s Cradle; First Citizens Bank;  UNC/Rex HEALTHCARE and UNC  HEALTHCARE, Duke Energy and Lenovo  for sponsoring the Concert Series at the Joseph Bryan Amphitheater in the Park.  Thank you to for its mission of bringing Raleigh’s local music scene to the forefront in its state of the art web magazine format.

By Sheryl Bryant

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