By Carley Stavis
They say there is no closer bond of friendship than the one between brothers.
If the Avett Brothers are any indication, the ties of brotherhood don’t just create strong friendships, but great music as well.
The North Carolina-based band rolling into the Bay Area for three shows this weekend consists of elder brother Scott, the vocalist and banjo and kick-drum player; younger brother Seth, the guitarist, sidekick vocalist and high-hat stomper; and honorary Avett brother Bob Crawford, the band’s stand-up bass player. Beginning tonight, the trio will bring its unique sound to Santa Cruz and San Francisco for three days of live performances.
Spanning more than one traditional genre, music critics countrywide have placed the group in the inventive genres of modern Americana, thrashgrass and indie-roots.
“There was a point in time when we realized that we really should not force [the songwriting process],” Scott Avett said. “We had to say, ‘Well, maybe that’s not where we’re at, and if it’s not, so be it,’ on a lot of occasions … if it’s natural and it’s right, then it’ll come. If not, that’s just how it’s going to be, and people will have to deal with it, including us.”
This approach has resulted in an extensive musical rap sheet, including 10 studio and live albums between 2000 and 2007. Though there are similarities from one album to the next, there has consistently been some twinge or reformed perspective in each new album that sets it apart.
Forgoing the expensive and showy performances that riddle the concert industry today, the Avett Brothers focus on showcasing raw talent by abstaining from excessive light and sound effects.
Booking agent Paul Lohr has worked with the Avett Brothers since 2003.
“They really never play the same show twice,” Lohr said. “They let the mood and the environment dictate the content, and they let the passion of the moment take the song where it will, so that there is a very real, very personal interpretation for each fan.”
The variety of venues helps add to the distinctiveness of each show — from classy larger theatres in suburban communities, to intimate and eccentric dives, to multi-thousand-person arenas in prominent U.S. tour stops.
“There’s [something] that happens between an excited audience and an excited performer, and that’s when the celebration really happens,” Seth Avett said. “There’s no giver [or] taker. Everyone’s giving and receiving at the same time. For us, the bigger the crowds get and the more excited they are, it’s more fuel. We had to start this journey by giving everything, and now we’re getting it back. It’s just what we need to take it up and up and up.”
Although the band has toured for the majority of the last eight years, its members cite the music-writing process as the central aspect of what they do.
“I can say easily that our most important goal and our greatest concern is for songwriting, and everything else comes second,” Seth said. “Performance and recording may be close seconds, but the time we put into our lyrics, melodies, songs — that’s our life’s work, and it’ll be the biggest part of what our life’s work will be in the years to come.”