Friday night’s portion of Celebrate Brooklyn Bandshell was full indie-Americana with gentleman from Texas Shakey Graves opening, followed by the self-titled “organic moonshine roots” singer Valerie June, and headlined by South Carolinian couple Shovels and Rope to a crowd ready to clap, sing and dance along.
The seats quickly filled up as Shakey Graves’ spooky folk music filled the arena until people were squeezing more than one to a seat. Starting out armed with just his signature suitcase-kickdrum, his hollow-body guitar, a cowboy hat and a beer, he played songs from his EP “Donor Blues ” and his first full length album “Roll the Bones,” as well as a few new ones we can look forward to hearing on his recently-completed-second album. Half way through his set, Shakey Graves invited up his engineer, friend and drummer to the stage, making the one-man band a two-piece for the remainder of the set. Not only did having the drummer add a little more spice and variety to his usual guitar-kick-tambourine sound, but he also added in some folksy harmonies!
Tennessee native Valerie June took the stage shortly after 9pm, swathed in a beautiful turquoise green dress with her locks piled high. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist, she politely introduced the audience to each of her stringed beauties: a red-hot Gretsch (appropriately called “Big Red”), a Martin dreadnought acoustic (nicknamed “The Stranger”), a petite ukulele-banjo, or banjolele (naturally called “The Baby”), and of course, the mama bear banjo (“The Mom”), as she brought them out. Alternating between these agents, paired with her substantial voice, her sound resonated between electric, indie-blues, to a folky Tennessee country, to almost a retro gospel rock.
Hailing from Charleston, SC, dynamic duo Carrie Ann Heart and Michael Trent of Shovels and Rope got the crowd to fill the aisles wiggling their hips. The band got their name from a record they made prior to actually being a band. The record, they note, “is a pretty good record featuring several murder ballads where some characters were hanging and others were doing the burying, so the title seemed apt.” Playing a few songs from their upcoming album “Swimmin’ Time,” as well, Shovels and Rope had the Bandshell crowd bouncing, clapping and singing along.