Oct 20, 2011
07:30 PM to 11:00 PM
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That magic is abundantly evident on I and Love and You, the Avett Brothers’ big-label debut. Its 13 songs are delivered in a style that defies pigeonholing but might be described as a rootsy amalgam of folk, country, bluegrass, rock and pop – even a jab of punk-style dynamics here and there. Drawn by the naked honesty of their songs and the rousing intensity of their live shows, legendary producer and talent scout Rick Rubin signed the Avett Brothers – consisting of siblings Scott and Seth, plus bassist Bob Crawford - to his American Recordings label in 2008.
By the time Rubin found them, the Avett Brothers had compiled their own impressive track record. They’d already issued five full length albums and two EPs, on their manager’s Ramseur Records label. They debuted in 2001 with a self-titled six-song EP and then issued a full-fledged album, Country Was, a year later. The heart of their catalog is the albums that followed: Mignonette (2004), Four Thieves Gone (2006) and Emotionalism (2007), which offered a generous 49 songs among them. The Avett Brothers’ latest release, an EP called The Gleam II, reached #82 on Billboard’s Top Albums chart in 2008 – quite a showing for an independent CD with minimal marketing and publicity.
Over the years, the Avett Brothers built up a sizable following based on their rowdy, infectious stage shows. In concert, the high-flying ensemble tears through tunes with unbridled energy, popping banjo and guitar strings right and left while inciting stomping singalongs among audiences that appear to know every word. At times they would seemingly create their own subgenre onstage - “punkgrass,” for lack of a better word. This much is for certain: the Avett Brothers are a grassroots phenomenon, built from the ground up. I and Love and You marks the point at which they’re poised, with perfect timing, to break through to a broader audience.
The Avett Brothers have spent much of the past decade nurturing their skill as songwriters, along with their proficiency as vocalists and musicians. Although Seth and Scott are principally identified with acoustic guitar and banjo, respectively, from their live shows, both brothers also play piano, drums and most anything else with strings. (The brothers possess formidable artistic skills, too, and their sketches and paintings adorn their albums.) Clearly, however, songs are the center of the Avett Brothers’ universe. The brothers turn out songs in profusion. They write them individually, and they write them together. Each might write an entire song, or credit might be split down the middle or any conceivably fractional way. There is no set method to their songwriting. The point is, Seth and Scott generate songs constantly, because that’s what they feel that they were born to do.
Live shows remain the Avett Brothers’ calling card. In the spring of this year, they opened selected dates for the Dave Matthews Band. On their own, they’ve filled a 7,000-seat venue in Cary, North Carolina, and sold out two nights at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon – one of their strongholds. In June 2009, they performed back-to-back sellouts at New York’s Fillmore East.
“We’ll just keep writing our songs and making our records, and how it goes is how it goes,” concludes Seth. “We’re trying our hardest and having some fun doing it, and that’s all it needs to be.”
Tickets are available at unmtickets.com.