Tonight Shovels & Rope plays two sets at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, a venue that is quickly becoming their natural habitat here in Houston. The duo, made up of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, is currently touring behind O' Be Joyful, released this past summer. Obviously, the group is gaining mucho steam and getting accolades from listeners outside of the Americana and country scenes.
Check out Rocks Off's Facebook wall today, as we are giving away a pair of tickets to one of tonight's gigs. The pair play at 7:30 and 9 p.m. tonight.
To gain some perspective on the S&R sound I asked them this week to give us an inside look at what songs and artists helped create their sound. As a music journalist, it's always fun to get a look at the ingredients of one of your favorite acts.
Tom Waits and Marty Robbins were expected, but a Smashing Pumpkins chestnut from Siamese Dream really threw me for a loop. I think a lot of people from my generation owe Billy Corgan more than we think.
Toussaint McCall, "Nothing Takes the Place of You"
Perfectly simple and completely heartwrenching, this is soul music at its purest right from the Louisiana tap.
The Cramps, "Human Fly"
This psychobilly classic is the soundtrack to teenage danger. The Cramps were so scary and so sexy at the same time. Transcending gender and genre, the redefined what it meant to be married folks in a rock band. For better or worse, until death. RIP Lux Interior.
Willie Nelson, "Always On My Mind"
We both recall this song being with us our whole lives, serving as an example of what a love song should be. It's not a sugar-coated one-night-stand love song. It's a "we been at this a while and I still want to be here with you even though I've been an ass lately" love song. That's grown folks stuff right there.
John Prine, "Hello In There"
Prine taught us to write about heavy truth with poignancy and precision. While "Hello In There" gracefully confronts the isolation and sadness of getting old, it leaves you shaking inside needing to call your grandparents to tell them you love them.
Bob Dylan, "Subterranean Homesick Blues"
Any number of Dylan songs could have made this list but we picked this one for the syncopated lyric and the semi-psychedelic imagery that is part of Bobs ethos; this is the part we steal from him.
Smashing Pumpkins, "Mayonaise"
What is he saying? Still not sure, but the point is that it was beautiful anyway in it's abstractness. The arc and dynamic in this song summoned many a hormone in our tender angsty years. Tears of rage.
Violent Femmes, "Kiss Off"
Pretty much everything we love about music: A raw and snarly heartache.
Loretta Lynn & Jack White III, "Portland, Oregon"
This song (and the entire record Van Lear Rose) defined an awesome place where country music and rock could meet and not melt into Americana, but rather create this dreamy sonic reverb and over-driven place where Loretta and Jack could hook up in and hang over. He made her seem ageless and she made a man outta him.
Marty Robbins, "El Paso"
The perfect western love/gun battle story... Puts us in a Cormac McCarthy state of mind. Felina is enigmatic. Is she a whore? Is she a flirtatious young girl trying to make her lover jealous? Either way it ends badly and beautifully. We play this one a lot.
Tom Waits, "Gun Street Girl"
Looking back on it, I think this song influenced some of the scenery on our first record. Sounds like if The Outsiders was made into a western.
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7 and 9:30 p.m. tonight at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, http://www.mcgonigels.com.