Shovels and Rope, Jonny Corndawg
The Pour House
April 27

Nashville-based singer/guitarist Jonny Corndawg and his fantastic hillbilly band stormed the Pour House stage in front of a packed house on Friday, but many in the audience were waiting to hear hometown heroes Shovels and Rope.

Corndawg’s witty humor meshed perfectly with the strength of his band, featuring mind-blowing fiddle player Josh Hedley. Their rollicking old-school country set felt hearty. Their cover of the Middle Brother’s “Middle Brother” (written by Deer Tick frontman John McCauley) was one of the strongest songs of the night.

Corndawg introduced Hedley, who shredded the fiddle like an electric guitar. “You should Google this guy, he’s worth a search,” he said. Taylor Zachary handled the bass alongside drummer Jerry Pentecost. After a few notes of the a cappella “Stone Cold Daddy-O” (written by Jimmy Cousins), every voice stopped and you couldn’t take your eyes off Corndawg as he wandered around the stage crooning into the microphone.

As Shovels and Rope, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent have been touring all over the Southeast with Corndawg for the past few months. After kicking off the set with Hearst’s song “Gasoline,” she confessed that she and Trent had been quite homesick. Later, she announced, “Our new record is out July 31, and this song will be on it. It’s for my daddy” and then launched into a new ballad titled “The Keeper.”

Trent and Hearst switched from guitars to percussion during the show. Guest trumpeter Clay White (of the Awendaw Green collective) joined the husband-and-wife duo for a phenomenal version of “The Winner,” the title track on Trent’s 2011 solo album. It was the highlight of their set. The fan favorite had some fans going nuts, jumping around and screaming along with the rollicking chorus, “And if that one’s for the winner/This must be for me.” White aimed his trumpet between the couple’s microphones and seemed to make it sing along with Trent’s voice, to wonderful effect. After the song, Hearst said, “This is our buddy Clay. We raised him as a little baby snake in Awendaw.”

While I wished Corndawg and his friends had joined them for a full-house encore, Hearst and Trent did deliver a pretty stunning a capella send-off, which they do often, joining hands and slowly lullaby-ing the audience off into the good night, singing, “Sorry, I regret this/And I know we will forget this/The only thing I know to say to you now is goodbye.”

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