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Avett Brothers: Raucous Boys from North Carolina

By Sean Smith

Fort Wayne Reader


Few bands have taken the credo ‘less is more’ to heart moreso than the Avett Brothers. Consisting of Scott and Seth Avett, on banjo and guitar respectively, and Bob Crawford, on upright bass, the Avett Brothers create songs more rockin and foot stompin than bands twice their numbers.

It was in Greenville, North Carolina that the Avetts were formed in name and sound in 2000. However, the Avetts as we know and love them now didn’t come into fruition until 2002. It was during the recording of their first album, ‘Country Was’, that Crawford joined the Brothers. Since then they have released a handful of other records, including ‘Mignonette’ (2004) and ‘Four Thieves Gone: The Robinsville Sessions’ (2006).

Explaining what type of music the Avetts play is a little exhausting, kind of like their ‘full-on, leave-it-all-on-the-stage’ live show. When bassist Crawford wants to avoid an hour long discussion of the intricacies of their music and style, he will describe their sound as ‘bluegrass Nirvana.’ It’s true that bluegrass is an element in their music, but it’s just that: an element. There are so many other influences at play. For proof of that just consider Crawford’s current shuffle of music. There’s Gnarls Barkley, The Raconteurs, Joe Jackson, and lots of jazz.

The thing that he admires most about Jack White, of the White Stripes and Raconteurs, is that White is not out to reinvent the wheel. He is simply playing rock n roll. Some people always need to look for something ‘super meaningful’ in music, but in White’s music is just rock n roll.

The Avetts have been accused of reinventing the bluegrass wheel and have taken some heat and a fair earful of complaints from purists, but there are some places that will always greet them with open arms. Places like Merlefest. Merlefest has had the pleasure of hosting the Avetts (and hundreds of other Americana bands) for three years in a row now.

“It’s special. Playing (there recently) was excellent. It’s the best festival around, it’s a family event, and it’s almost like a home festival. It was enough to bring me to Carolina from New Jersey,” says Crawford.

It’s also part of the reason the Avetts are creating the kind of music they are. When Seth was thirteen he was able to hang out with Doc Watson for a day while attending Merlefest. It was an event that caused Seth to re-evaluate his approach and appreciation of music.

Yet another festival that the Brothers will be playing is Bonnaroo. They couldn’t be happier to be a part of the ever changing music extravaganza.

“That’s a prestigious festival,” notes Crawford, “It’s gonna be great to be able to play to that many people and we are playing right after Radiohead.”

How many up and coming bands can claim that Radiohead opened for them? Not too shabby.

Something else that wasn’t too shabby would be their recent co-headlining tour with BR549. Crawford was the only one aware of their music before the tour got under way and was looking forward to sharing the bill with them. However, the Avetts had only been opening shows ‘for what seemed like forever’ and were not sure how things would work out on a co-headlining show. Their anxiety was short lived as they soon found out that the fellas in BR549 could not be any better. They were truly great people and proved that by going out of their way to try and get doctors for Seth, Scott, and Bob when the three of them all came down with the flu during the tour.

The Avetts are kicking off the Wayne Calhoun Troubadour Series on May 26th at 7 pm on the corner of Wayne and Calhoun. When asked if they had ever been to Ft. Wayne before, Crawford answers, “Never, never, never.”

Can you think of any reason why you should miss one of the most exciting live acts to come along in quite along while, not to mention a group that consistently writes wonderful songs with melodies for days and smart and story filled lyrics?

Think again.

The Avett Brothers
Friday, May 26th, 7 pm
Corner of Wayne and Calhoun

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