Besides their own shows, Shovels & Rope have toured as opening acts to artists like Justin Townes Earle, Jason Isbell, the Felice Brothers, Hayes Carll and Butch Walker.
Carll loves Hearst's "huge" voice and personality and asked her to sing a duet with him on one of his discs. He invited them on the road, saying "it was exactly what I wanted to see if I was going out to watch a show.
"My audience loved them," he said. "They just tore down the house every night. It was so much fun to go out and watch people 'discover' them every night. I had one of my best friends who's known me for years say, 'You know how I know you're doing well? That band is opening for you.' "
A sense of living on the edge musically as a duo is part of what makes audience members root for Shovels & Rope. "We are inspired by limiting ourselves to what the two of us can handle with our four arms, four legs and two heads," Trent said.
Neither knew how to play the drums before a friend gave them a kick drum he had found in the garbage. Hearst shudders at the memory of recently trying the piano onstage for the first time during a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Johnny 99." "I bombed," she said.
A friend may come onstage to play a trumpet now and then, and other musicians will contribute to recordings, but the couple said Shovels & Rope will stay as a family band.
"It wouldn't be as good if it were more rehearsed," Trent said. "It wouldn't be as good if it were better."
With that, his wife laughed in the background.