Shank Hill Street might not be a familiar (or even real) place to most of us, but on their O’ Be Joyful album, Shovels & Rope’s Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst write about it as if with a heartfelt heaviness that makes you believe they’ve lived there for their entire lives. “And it'll be a long time before the sun shines on Shank Hill Street again,”
These days the couple are thriving in Charleston, South Carolina, and have no plans to leave.
“I came to Charleston in 1997 as a graduate from high school, and moved from Nashville,” says Cary Ann. “This is the kind of place you have a hard time leaving. No matter the amount of time you spend here, it feels like home. The minute I crossed into the city, I’d never seen anything like it,” says Hearst.
“This is a place where poets and artists have always thrived.”
The duo, who have together created some of the greatest music of our generation, moved to John’s Island – just off of Charleston – in 2009, shortly after their wedding. “We got married in 2009, and then moved into a log cabin,” Michael Trent says. “We’ve been on Johns Island basically since we were married.”
In their episode of Sites & Sounds the couple shows guest artist and longtime friend Matthew Logan Vasquez what Charleston life is like. “We’re taking this opportunity to do something real Charlestonian,” says Cary Ann.
Not only does the pair welcome Vasquez and his family to their home for a low country boil, but they also take him to some of their favorite haunts; including Fast & French, Dock Street Theatre, and crabbing on the river.
Of Tia Clark of local business Casual Crabbing With Tia, Michael says, “We found Tia from around town forever. She’s been a bartender...we’re buds. Now she’s got this crabbing business and just takes people out and shows them how to crab off the dock. Nobody’s ever had a bad time casual crabbing with Tia.”
Cary Ann’s loyalty clearly lies with one of her favorite Southern restaurants, Fast And French, a “really unique Charleston restaurant. What I like to do is pretend I’m French in here. If I have my way and I'm, like, 65 and live downtown, this will be where I'll be everyday...and if I don't show up one day this is where you'll go knockin' on the door to make sure I'm not dead."
“It’s a real community...everybody helps each other out,” says Trent. Hearst adds, “all anybody really wants to do out here is drink and eat and visit. It’s just the vibe.”