Tag Archives: The Avett Brothers

Avetts and Cheerwine pair up for The Legendary Giveback

Over the last decade, The Avett Brothers have gained attention for their seamless harmonies, heart-wrenching lyrics and frenetic banjo-driven live shows. From humble beginnings busking on street corners in downtown Greenville to sharing the stage with folk legend Bob Dylan at the Grammy Awards, brothers Scott and Seth Avett and bassist Bob Crawford have certainly come a long way on their journey to the top.

Despite the bright lights of success, The Avett Brothers have remained dedicated to giving back to their community. Their most recent charitable venture involved partnering with Cheerwine for the “Legendary Giveback Concert” last month at nTelos Wireless Pavilion in Charlottesville, Va. The concert benefited Operation Homefront, Big Brothers Big Sisters and University of Virginia Children’s Hospital. Additionally, fans who pledged to volunteer in their communities received access to an online live stream of the concert.

The evening in Charlottesville was met with much excitement from fans across the Southeast. Concertgoers began lining up for the sold-out general-admission show as early as 8 a.m. for an 8 p.m. show.

When The Avett Brothers finally took the stage, the packed amphitheater erupted. The Avetts and Crawford were joined on stage by touring band members, cellist Joe Kwon, drummer Jacob Edwards and Paul Defiglia on the keys. They opened with a high-energy version of “Slight Figure of Speech,” and it was clear that these Concord boys came to blow the roof off of the venue.

They delighted the audience with a handful of old favorites, like “Salvation Song,” “Old Joe Clark” and “Gimmeakiss,” as well as new songs from their most recent album, “The Carpenter,” like “Live and Die,” “I Never Knew You” and a crowd-hushing, stripped-down version of “Through My Prayers.”

The entire set was elevated by playful brotherly antics, Seth’s face-melting electric guitar solos and Scott’s kick-drum acrobatics and stage sprints. The evening closed with an old-timey cover of “Alabama Gals,” but could be summed up best by the lyrics of “Salvation Song”: “And they may pay us off in fame but that is not why we came and if it compromises truth then we will go.”

The group’s air of goodwill has become the norm among their most loyal fans, who have organized fundraisers as far west as Portland, Ore. The Avett Brothers have proven themselves to not only be extremely talented musicians, but also a band of brothers working toward the greater good.

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Music that Matters – Raleigh’s Racing The Cure Benefit

Brotherly Love

There are certain lengths that a friend will go to help another friend in need.  For Grayson Currin, this meant organizing and seamlessly executing the Racing the Cure Benefit for Oliver Gant, a one-night four-venue music event that raised over $45,000 to help a brave young boy fight the battle of his life (Read: Oliver Gant’s story).

Last Friday night in downtown Raleigh, over 1,700 music fans were treated to the sounds of North Carolina’s finest musicians–including The Avett Brothers, The Love Language, Bombadil, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Jack the Radio, Annuals, and The Old Ceremony–all in the name of charity.

The venues, ranging in capacity from ~250 to 800, provided music lovers with a more intimate environment in which to experience their favorite bands.  This was especially true for fans of The Avett Brothers, who currently sellout venues that hold several thousand.  The chance to see The Avett Brothers in a venue that holds 250 people drove some of their more diehard fans to start lining up at King’s Baracade as early as 9 o’clock Friday morning.  By the afternoon, the line of fans camped out in chairs neared the block’s corner.  Curious pedestrians inquired about the line and quickly learned about Oliver’s event.  I can imagine that soon thereafter, a feverish round of desperate texts and tweets were fired off by said curious pedestrians to track down the last few tickets floating around Raleigh.  This was an event not to be missed!

I was lucky, or crazy according to some, to have scored the first spot in line at King’s that morning.  Some people questioned my judgement, my employment status, and my priorities, but I didn’t care.  We should be using vacation days to support events that are rooted in everything good in our world–friendship, music, philanthropy, and community.  These are the things that matter in life.  The experience of connecting with other fans in line, meeting those closely connected to the cause, and standing center stage in front of Scott and Seth Avett while listening to their beautiful music, was well worth the time and energy I spent.  I’d surely do it again in a heartbeat.

Seth Avett

The brothers Avett, stripped down with only a guitar, banjo and microphones, took the stage around midnight.  The crowd erupted with applause and excitement as those homegrown, humble boys from Concord opened with their heart-wrenching family ballad, Murder in the City.   Family is an omnipresent theme at all Avett shows, and it was evermore present that night as Scott and Seth played and sang from their hearts to honor their friend Jed Gant (Oliver’s dad) and his family.  For these Avett boys, family extends far beyond one’s genetic code.  It is a pervasive term that leeches its way into the all of the lives they affect with their music, art, and generosity.

Scott Avett

What was supposed to be a 25-minute set, thankfully stretched into a 50-minute set with gems like When I Drink, January Wedding, Denouncing November Blue, In the Curve, Go to Sleep, I Killed Sally’s Lover, and At the Beach.  Scott and Seth gave every bit of energy they had and looked like they were having a blast doing it as well.  Half-way through the set, after thanking Jed for inviting them to be a part of such an important event, Seth said, “We’re gonna play one of the songs we always used to play back when we first met Jed many years ago.  This one’s called Cigarettes and Whiskey.”  The crowd went crazy as the brothers added their own Cabarrus County charm to this old country classic.  They quickly downshifted into a beautiful version of Doc Watson’s Look up Look Down that Lonesome Road.  Minus a few token cat calls, the audience had hushed to hear that Avett harmony, all while near or distant memories of love lost stirred deep within.  This is why The Avett Brothers have fans lined up at 9am for a midnight show.  Their music digs up raw human emotions that make us feel reborn and alive.  They make us remember what we’ve been through and look ahead to better days.

They ended their set with a song that has become a staple in their shows as of late–gospel hymn A Closer Walk with Thee.  What a fitting way to end a show of this magnitude–with grace, hope and faith.  To Grayson Currin and everyone else involved in making the Racing the Cure Benefit for Oliver Gant a success, thank you for promoting music that really matters and for supporting a cause bigger than all of us.  To the Gant family, our prayers are with you always.  Keep fighting Oliver!

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Leaping into 2012…an extra day of music!

Rockin' my new Little Martin in 2012!

Happy (belated) 2012!  This year is slated to be jam-packed with shows (and reviews!) across the music spectrum.  So far, I have several shows under my belt and on the books,  including:  Jim Avett, Overmountain Men, Mipso Trio, The Darkness, The Avett Brothers (NC and CA dates), The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Merle Haggard, Paleface & Mo, and more!  I am excited to share these experiences with you all.

Another wonderful thing about the year 2012 is that it is a Leap Year, and the calendar gods have granted us an extra day to do with what we wish.  What will you do with your extra day?  I know that my extra day will be filled with as much music as I can cram into it.  Music is a part of my daily routine — in the car, at the gym, at work, in the kitchen while I cook, at late night jam sessions, and even in my dreams.  I don’t even attempt to imagine a world without music — just seems unlivable!

So let us appreciate an entire extra 24 hours of  music in our lives this year.   Cheers to a fabulous 2012!

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My Favorite Gifts – Christmas Album

I often measure music by its ability to transport me to another place, whether it be traveling back through my memories or somewhere I’ve never been.  By this measure, among others, the music on My Favorite Gifts – Christmas Album is some of the best I’ve heard in a long while.

Upon first listen I was transported from neighborhood streets once alive with song and spirit to the lonely muddy banks of the Mississippi, from an upbeat Mexican celebration to the birthplace of Jesus, and from a smokey Irish pub in New York City to the bedroom of a little boy too eager to sleep on Christmas Eve.  Lyrically, each song touches on different elements of the season, including introspective reflection on the past, jovial celebration of holiday traditions, hopefulness, goodwill to man, the blessings of Jesus Christ, and even the role of organized religion in the commercialization of Christmas.

Released last month, My Favorite Gifts brings together the musical talents and creativity of Overmountain Men, The Avett Brothers, The David Wax Museum, Jim Avett, siblings David and Jessica Lea Mayfield, Paleface, Nick and the Babes, Mark Crozer, and The Wood Brothers.  This compilation leaves behind the overdone holiday standards and treats our ears to unique interpretations of those not-so-well-known songs, in addition to a few original pieces.

The idea for this album was born from a conversation between Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers) and Dolph Ramseur (Ramseur Records) on December 26, 2009.  Crawford, who shared his thoughts via email, recalled the conversation.

“I knew at some point we (The Avett Brothers) would be asked to be involved in a Christmas album.  I wanted us to do it ourselves and with our friends first.  Dolph immediately said that it needed to be a project for charity.  At the time, our good friend and Avett tour manager Dane Honeycutt’s mother Vickie was fighting breast cancer.  Sadly, a few months later Vickie passed away and we knew then that we were going to direct the charity towards some cancer fighting organization,” he wrote.

Musicians quickly signed on to the charitable project.  Crawford and Ramseur, who produced the album together, encouraged artists to choose songs that were special and intimate to them.  This approach fostered the creation of a purely eclectic and original collection of Christmas music.

When I first listened to the album in its entirety I was immediately taken by how different the songs were stylistically.  Instantly, I could hear the care that was taken to choose songs that expressed each artist’s or group’s feelings about Christmas.  I wondered how the artists came to choose or write their songs.  To my delight and appreciation, most of the contributing musicians shared thoughts about the creative process with me via email.

David Childers on his song Rambling Door to Door:   “The subject of Rambling Door To Door is the group of boys I used to get together with on Christmas Eve to go caroling.  We were not the most well behaved, but we all loved it.  The character singing in the song is looking back almost 50 years to his youth.  He sees what was then, and he sees what is now.  The now is not as nice a place, but he can still sing to himself if no one else wants it.  There’s a joy in singing, but even more so in singing those songs that are of a short season or time.”

David Mayfield on On Christmas Eve: “It was a real treat and an honor being invited to be a part of My Favorite Gifts.  I’ve always wanted to do something for the holidays, but was sure I couldn’t do a standard any better than Bing [Crosby], so I was floored when Bob Crawford suggested John Hartford’s On Christmas Eve.  I’ve always loved that song and never would have thought of recording it.”

David Wax on La Rama: “The David Wax Museum delves into American and Mexican folk traditions.  We thought it would be a great addition to the Christmas record to take an unknown Christmas song from Mexico and arrange a bi-lingual version of it.  There’s a centuries-old custom of musicians carrying a Christmas branch (“La Rama”) between houses and playing this particular song in exchange for food and tips.”

Nick Bailey on Christmas Time is Here“Bob approached me and said he would like to produce a track for Nick and the Babes on the album.  The arrangement of the song is actually for a bunch of little kids singing.  It’s really high-pitched, so we had to do a different arrangement, but I still wanted it to sound like the song and be recognizable.  I picked the song because it has always been one of my favorites.  It is more of a sad and lonely, reflective song.  I think that when people get older, Christmas takes on a different meaning.  Sometimes it becomes more reflective…thinking less about presents and more about family.”

Jim Avett on writing The Brightest Star:  “I wrote The Brightest Star because I thought everybody else was going to write an original!  I had not preconceived anything…it just sort of came out.  I have a lot of gospel in my background so naturally the song reflects my feelings that all gospel, including Christmas carols, should be theologically correct, which I think this one is.”

Paleface on Fairytale of New York “Bob Crawford called me when we were recording our album One Big Party and asked if I wanted to be a part of a Christmas compilation that he was putting together.  I said of course and in my mind flashed on the Pogues song, Fairytale of New York.  It’s always been one of the best and most under-appreciated Christmas songs I’ve ever heard.  He asked me to think about what song I might want to do and we hung up.  When we spoke for the second time about what song I remember [Crawford] saying, ‘Dolph and I thought it would be great if you did Fairytale,’ without me having mentioned it to him yet so that was all I needed.  We had Stuart from Bombadil join us and had a fun afternoon recording it.  I remember saying that everybody should just relax and have fun cause ‘this song is so good its hard to mess up’.”

Mark Crozer on writing Next Christmas“The song itself has quite a long history.  I came up with the melody for it when I was briefly living in New York just after Christmas 2008. Then it sat around for a year before I was sitting down one day thinking I’d really like to write a Christmas song.  It’s been a crazy fantasy since I was a kid to have a festive hit in the charts that gets brought out year after year and becomes part of the Christmas tradition.  In the UK, where I’m originally from, the Christmas single is quite a big dealSo, as I was sitting there I suddenly remembered the tune I’d written a year earlier and the words just came out in one go the way they do on occasion.  I wanted to write something that reflected the hope for better times ahead that I think everyone feels at this time of yearIt is a very hopeful song, but laced with a little of the irony that we Brits love so much.”

Crawford on I Thank God and more:  “Seth [Avett] heard it from a Sam Cooke recording. We had already kicked around the idea of other, more traditional songs.  I Thank God is very unique while maintaining one of the key themes of the Christmas season which is thankfulness for the blessings of God.  I am also honored to work with the Overmountain Men.  David Childers is one of the greatest song writers of our time. I think he and Jim Avett could write an album of Christmas songs that would redefine the genre.”

The creative process of writing or adapting, and recording holiday favorites for My Favorite Gifts was augmented by the fact that the album would contribute to a cause much larger than those involved.  Many of the artists tied to this project were close friends to Vickie Honeycutt and remain close to her family.  So it seemed only fitting when Crawford and Ramseur decided that all album profits would be donated directly to the Vickie Honeycutt Foundation.

The Vickie Honeycutt Foundation, which was formed shortly after her passing, honors “a woman who served as a beacon of compassion for so many.”  Honeycutt, a graduate of UNC-Greensboro, taught at Mt. Pleasant High School in her native Cabarrus County for 32 years, and was known for her caring nature and dedication to help others succeed.  According to the website, the foundation’s goal is to provide assistance to “teachers and educators battling cancer so that their sole focus can be on recovery.”  With charity at the forefront, several artists openly expressed what it meant to work on such a special project.

Mo, drummer for Paleface, responded, “It’s pretty awesome to get to be on the same album with so many greats, and it’s a true honor to get to celebrate with them the memory and life of a dear friend’s mom who was so sweet and caring to all.”

Suz Slezak of The David Wax Museum echoed Mo’s sentiments.

“It’s always special to have the opportunity to support causes we care about with our music. We were also touched to be included in such a stellar line-up of bands, many of whom we listen to on a regular basis,” she wrote.

Mark Crozer, who is likely a new name for fans of this grouping of artists, was also very moved by the direction and purpose of the album.

“When I learned that it was to be a charity album for such a good cause  I was even keener to be involved.  Teaching has been in my family for generations and I have dabbled myself.  I’ve also lost friends and family to cancer so I wanted to do something to help raise funds for projects that support people living with cancer.  I think the Vickie S. Honeycutt Foundation is a truly wonderful organization, and I’m so thrilled to be part of this project.  It’s also a thrill for me to be in such distinguished company as The Avett Brothers, Jessica Lea Mayfield, The Wood Brothers and David [Childers] of course.  It’s a great album and pretty diverse which makes it even more interesting,” Crozer wrote.

As a “lifelong friend” of Vickie’s, Jim Avett was “honored to be a part of anything to do with her and her family” as well as “to be included in a compilation CD with such talented creative people.”

Collectively, My Favorite Gifts is a wonderful work of art that will please the senses, revive the true spirit of Christmas, and benefit those in need well into the future.  It is a Christmas album with far more substance than Santa, making it easy to enjoy all year-long.  It is a must-have so please visit your local record store or amazon.com/iTunes to purchase My Favorite Gifts for yourself and your loved ones.

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