I was gonna write a piece on The Avett Brothers. It has been on my “to write” document for months I just never got around to it. I like The Avett Brothers just fine and have spent a good amount of time listening to their music but for some reason I have not been able to summon up any passion for writing a piece on them. Enter my former neighbor and friend Libby. Now, she has a passion for The Avett Brothers. Well, I bumped into her a little while ago at the Two Gallants show and it was decided that if she wrote it then I would post it. So, here you go. The Avett Brother’s experience per my friend Libby:
I first saw The Avett Brothers play at Skippers Smokehouse in 2003. I wasn’t even supposed to be at the show, but a friend at our local radio station was short of raffle ticket sellers, so I dragged my friend Jeremy out. I had no interest in the headliner, some old dude playing music that sounded like a lame mix of classic rock and blues. It wasn’t music that made you sit up and pay attention.
When the Avetts took the stage, it was hard not to pay attention. The band consists of three guys, and they were all dressed like 18th century western gentlemen: pinstriped slacks, collared button-up shirts, vests, and thin ties. I had recently begun to appreciate bluegrass music, so the fast banjo playing of Scott Avett caught my attention first, and the steady beat provided by Bob Crawford on the stand-up bass was a perfect accompaniment. The clincher, though, that caused me to drop my raffle tickets, kick off my shoes, and run out on the dance floor, was the harmonizing of Scott and Seth Avett and the screams that Seth Avett worked into many of the songs. I danced hard for the whole set, swirling and stomping on the eroding wood of Skipper’s dance floor. I ran to the table in back to buy a CD, and Jeremy and I bought one of each CD they had for sale. I walked home that night with A Carolina Jubilee, which remains my favorite Avett Brothers CD to date. Jeremy was observant enough to notice Scott Avett at the bar, and prodded me to ask him to sign my CD. He seemed a bit surprised by the request, but was nice enough to do so and even invited me backstage so the rest of the band could sign it too. After they were finished signing, Seth Avett called me darlin’, which made my knees weak and I floated out of there and for the rest of the week. I had to wait three long years to see the band play again.
In that time, I listened to both A Carolina Jubilee and Mignonette, the CD Jeremy had bought, and about wore the CDs out in the process. In 2006, I was finally able to see the Avetts play again. This time, they were headlining at Skippers, and the crowds were out! No chance of seeing any band members at the bar that night, but the band was so, so on. The energy they throw into their shows astounds me. Everybody in the crowd was feeding off that energy, digesting it, and projecting it right back at the band. The floor was crowded with dancers stomping to the beat of the kick drum Scott Avett played while his fingers went to town on the banjo. Meanwhile, Seth played guitar, the high hat, and sang his heart out. Many times that night, I saw people in the audience laugh out loud to lyrics such as “When I drink, I hear things that aren’t really there, have fist fights with the air,� and �I killed Sally�s lover, now listen close to me, a bleedin� heart is better than the pentitentiary!� And just like I did at home listening to the CD, I choked up when the brothers sang �I�ve known others, and I�ve loved others too, but I loved them �cause they were stepping stones on a staircase to you.�
The Avett Brothers have quickly become my favorite band, and I mean �favorite� on a level I haven�t felt towards a band since my angsty years in high school. A song by them will bring you laughter, heartache, love, and rage. They�ve named their latest CD Emotionalism, and I can�t think of a better name to sum up the poetry they pour into their lyrics. Their music is very difficult to classify into a genre. There�s definitely a bluegrass sound in there, although the brothers used to sing in a punk band before Scott began playing around with a banjo, and the punk edge lives on through Seth�s screams. I was tickled when Paste Magazine put out a list of Rock�s 15 best screams and Seth Avett got picked for number 15.
The Avett Brothers have been touring practically non-stop for years now, and the energy they bring to their shows has infected almost all who hear them. A group of die hard fans has thus been built up nationwide, and it seems that the mainstream music industry is beginning to take notice. Their release of Emotionalism was accompanied by sold out shows around the country, an article in The New Yorker, and an appearance on The Conan O�Brian Show!