While local songwriters Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent (a.k.a. Shovels and Rope) have unique musical techniques and songwriting talent, the couple possesses some fine acting skills too.
On the web this week, Hearst premiered a surprisingly well produced video clip for the haunting love/hate song "Hell's Bells" at My Old Kentucky Blog (myoldkentuckyblog.com). The YouTube links ran rampant, shocking old friends and fans and unsuspecting newcomers with its antiquated black and white film quality and ghoulish imagery.
In an old silent movie font, a placard appears at the start of the clip that reads, "Now here's the story of a love almost right, gone awfully wrong." A bumpy courtship between characters played by Hearst and Trent continues (and unravels) from there. Maybe the duo's Cramps and Nosferatu influences are melding with their Wild West 'n' murder ballad tendencies. Visually and musically, its scary and beautiful stuff.
Hearst and Trent made the video earlier this year while working in studios and clubs in Los Angeles. Their manager, Kevin Held, helped pair the duo with Abrams. Hearst's "Hell's Bells" enjoyed national exposure this summer when HBO's drama series True Blood used the song in the closing credits on Sun. July 25. It was in the "I Got a Right to Sing the Blues" episode.
"It was all Kevin Abrams idea — he was the man with the plan," Hearst says of the video director. "It was paid for by Filter US Recordings, and we made it in L.A. when we were out on the hustle out there. Kevin got the HBO thing, and in turn were able to get Abrams to hook up the magic of Hollywood."
The stompy, bluesy "Hell's Bells" is one of five new songs on Hearst's Are You Ready to Die EP. She and Trent recorded mini album of country-flavored originals in L.A. with engineers Butch Walker and Jake Sinclair.
Hearst and Trent will on the road in Georgia over the next few weeks, participating in the he Unchained Tour of Georgia — a collaboration between storytellers and musicians who plan to barnstorm 14 Georgia cities and towns to "highlight the value of independent bookstores to their communities."
"We are holding the shows in bookstores, local small theatres, and even a church," says Hearst. "They're even renovating an old school bus that the tour will be traveling in. We'll be caravaning in our van with all our gear and the dog, and we'll be recording Shovels and Rope II and making videos from the road."
Hearst and Trent play a low-key set at the Pour House deck from 6-9 p.m. on Mon. Sept. 27. The duo's next big Charleston club show is on Sun. Oct. 17 at the Tin Roof. See myspace.com/caryannhearst for more.