If you follow the music scene that exists on the outer edges of bluegrass, acoustic, folk and Americana music, you are likely familiar with The Avett Brothers. What began as a trio with banjo prominently featured has developed into a more mainstream acoustic pop outfit after signing with a label offering them widespread distribution.
In fact, brothers Seth and Scott Avett got their musical start playing rock music, and decided to try their hands at acoustic music after a number of indie rock releases. They quickly found a following with Bob Crawford on bass, Scott on banjo and Seth on guitar. They have a rabid fan base that not only loves them some AB, more than a few just see them as the best band to ever exist, ever!
The Avetts are part of what you might describe as a primarily acoustic, garage band movement. The songs, the recordings and the live performances are raw, energetic and unpolished, touching on the same sort of ethos that brought forth punk and grunge before them. Judging from the new releases we receive, it would seem that a bluegrass-inspired acoustic format is becoming a hip, alternative avenue for young artists wanting to position themselves outside the mainstream.
Close followers of traditional or contemporary bluegrass may not find much of this music fitting within the friendly confines of the style, but regardless of that fact, it is a powerful and growing segment of the audience for acoustic music. If IBMA voters don’t consider the Avetts to be a bluegrass or bluegrass-themed group, you can bet that many of their fans do, giving them an overall positive view of our genre.
Here’s a look at their sound, circa 2009, at an NPR Tiny Desk Concert.
So… back to the question at hand. Just how big are The Avett Brothers now? Their 2009 release I And Love And You broke the top 20 on the Billboard top albums chart, hit #7 in top downloaded rock albums and #1 for top downloaded folk album.
As icing on the cake, their live concert tomorrow night (7/9) from Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheater is also being simulcast on the giant screens at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with pay-per-view live streaming available to Avett fans all over the world.
That is a big deal, a place where many a bluegrass act would dearly love to find themselves.
You can find details on the live stream for Saturday night’s show online.