Childfree Date Night: Shovels and Rope at the Fillmore!

Photo Courtesy of Sarah M.

One of the best things about being childfree is going on spontaneous date nights without having to search endlessly for a babysitter who costs a small fortune. Back in the day when my sister would babysit, I bet she was only paid a few measly bucks an hour. But since then, babysitters have practically unionized to demand a living wage. You always have to add their expense to the cost of whatever show tickets you purchased. Throw in dinner, drinks, parking and drunken karaoke and you’re done for the night.

Anyhow, we had the chance to see an amazing band play at the San Francisco Fillmore this past Saturday. The name of the band is Shovels and Rope and I have to say that I had no idea who they were when we bought the tickets. I’m always up for a musical adventure and can usually determine whether or not a band is worth seeing by sampling thirty seconds of a YouTube video. With this band, I think I may have sampled about twenty seconds this time of one of their songs on Pandora, if that.

I hadn’t been to the Fillmore since I was a college student at UC Davis and a group of my commune-mates (no, it wasn’t a sex commune – just a vegetarian co-op composed of three separate houses) had decided spontaneously to ride down to SF to see BB King there. The place has a magical quality to it. When you walk up the stairs, you see tons of pictures of legendary (and not so legendary) bands who have played there – Elton John, Eric Clapton, B52’s, etc.

(By the way, I don’t recall much from the BB King show, only that we were far away and he looked a bit older than usual. It’s always hard to see above towering heads at a standing room show when you’re only five feet and two inches tall.  But the music was probably good nevertheless.  Because it was BB.)

The Fillmore is a gorgeous little theater with high ceilings and full on chandeliers dangling from the ceilings. It was originally a dance hall when it opened in 1912 and then evolved to a roller rink in the ’40’s before it was used as a concert hall for a plethora of bands.  When we got through our customary hand stamping and bag check, we saw a metal container at the top of the stairs full of apples. Sure, they looked a little too big and red to not be genetically modified, but my boyfriend and I each took one. One of the people in our group got jealous and claimed his free fruit.

The opening band for Shovels and Rope was a guy named Willie Watson whom my boyfriend affectionately called Willie Wonka for the rest of the night. Wonka sported a banjo and had a very shrill voice which did not really appeal to us. But the crowd seemed to love him and I guess that’s all that mattered at the moment.

When the main act came on stage, I was really blown away by how much sound only two people could make! I learned that Shovels and Rope is the brainchild of a husband and wife team – Michael Trent and Carrie Ann Hearst. We were wondering if they were brother and sister at first, but I guess we got that question answered.

Between the two of them, they played an amazing collection of banjos, drums, harmonica and guitar – sometimes simultaneously. The music was bluegrass, rock and country melted together into a seriously dance-able and sway-able beat. They really rocked. And each of them harmonized perfectly.  They were really some mad musicians.  Unbelievably talented.

Carrie Ann particularly had a full, sensuous voice with a lot of power behind it. But unfortunately, I had to say that her red country style dress with fringes dangling from it was not very becoming on her. She looked like she walked right out of a Nashville stage and was getting ready to jump on her horse after the show. Nevertheless, she and her husband were excellent musicians.

I highly recommend that you go see Shovels and Rope live or at least listen to some of their music. You can check out their website here.  And no, I wasn’t paid by the band to say that.

What was the last band that you saw live?

Jula Pereira

Jula Pereira

I am a freelance writer living the good life in beautiful Sonoma County with my partner and our dog Timmy. Please say hello on Twitter or connect with me on Facebook.