So I haven’t written about the musical event of last weekend, The Avett Brothers performance at the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason University, and like the fact that I don’t know why I don’t love the brothers Seth and Scott Avett’s music, I don’t know what to write. Was their performance full of energy, yes! Did their fans seem too love it – yes! For me it was ok. I think that the main problem was the sound. We were on the side of the stage and it seemed that at times the only things I could hear were the drums and the bass. It also didn’t help that I didn’t know most of the songs to begin with! At times, I would close my eyes and try to pick out the individual instruments and all I heard was noise!!
The Avett Brothers band is composed of brothers Seth (guitar, keyboards, and vocals) and Scott (banjo, keyboards and vocals) Avett, bassist Bob Crawford and John Kwon on cello. Their latest release I and Love and You. is their first major label release, and was produced by famed producer Rick Rubin who has said this about the brothers:
As soon as I heard the depth in their singing and songwriting, I was in for the ride,” says Rubin, who has worked with some of the most talented mavericks in the business, including Johnny Cash, Tom Petty and The Dixie Chicks. “The Avetts’ songs have such a sincere emotional resonance. The purity of the messages stops you in your tracks. It’s unusual to hear such open-hearted personal sentiment from young artists today.”
While their music is rooted in folk, bluegrass, and alt-country, they seem to blur genres and cross over to a more of a punk and indie rock, than I typically like, with the focus more on the vocals and lyrics and less on the picking! At times, I like Scott’s banjo playing and times it’s just lost in the noise! I was looking for a review or comment on the Avett’s music and came across this post at Midwest Medievalist about Scott’s banjo playing…
The thing that really inspires me about his playing is the passion and untamed recklessness he puts into every song. Sometimes, he’s picking standard Scruggs style patterns. At his best, though, he’s just strumming wildly without any rhyme or reason. This may sound like a nightmare to listen to, but with the rest of the band going along with the insanity, it works magically. Also, he plays a kick drum while rocking the banjo. (my emphasis)
For me the part about “a nightmare to listen to” was how I felt. So was it a good concert- for my daughter and her mother it was great! They loved the dynamic performance of the brothers, their ability to switch from instrument to instrument and my daughter couldn’t believe that Kwon could move about with the cello and keep playing! For me it was ok. Are they talented? yes. But their music for some reason just doesn’t reasonate with me. As I sit here writing, the album, I and You and Love is playing in the background and I really haven’t stopped once and said “hey I really, really, like that!” But like they say to each his own, and I know that there’s lots of folks out there who love the Avett’s music and couldn’t stand the music that I love – c’est la vie! So am I nuts, or are there others out there who find The Avett Brothers just OK?
Here’s the title track and one of my favorite songs of the evening!