Shovels & Rope Dig Hangout Music Festival
Shovels & Rope - Monica McKlinski/WireImage

Shovels & Rope – Monica McKlinski/WireImage

GULF SHORES, ALA. – For Shovels & Rope singer Cary Ann Hearst, the Hangout Music Festival is like a homecoming. During the band’s Saturday (May 18) afternoon performance, she recounted the annual vacations her family enjoyed on the Redneck Riviera, right down to the memories of giant tricycles.

Shovels & Rope, Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers, and Delta Rae helped Americana fans feel right at home, too, even though it was sort of like a family reunion without air conditioning. The sweltering day still brought thousands of fans to the sandy beaches of lower Alabama.

It’s been about a year since I’ve seen Shovels & Rope in concert, and their intense tour schedule is paying dividends; they’ve never sounded tighter. Plus, the husband-and-wife duo grabbed four nominations for the Americana Music Honors nominations last month, so they’re definitely having their moment.

Michael Trent, the husband half of Shovels & Rope, said that their song “The Winner” is “the beachiest song we’ve got,” and noted that the tune was sent out to the underdogs of the world. And if there’s an underdog in the music world right now, that would be Shovels & Rope. The band is still based out of Charleston, S.C., but they’re hardly home after heavy touring and preparing for a tour with Dawes this spring.

One reason they’re so fun to watch is because they keep the momentum strong through the whole show, even trading off the drumsticks. On this particular gig, they didn’t employ any other bandmates, so they bravely carried the set – and judging from the strong crowd response, everybody was feeling right at home.

See photos and watch the live stream at Hangout Music Festival 2013.