The Avett Brothers: Together Through Life
As musical hotbeds go, North Carolina doesn’t immediately spring to mind, but parts of this beautiful state might contain more banjo pickers, doghouse-bass pluckers, mandolin strummers and lightning-bowed fiddlers than Carolina pines. In the Blue Ridge Mountain hills and hollers that spawned Doc Watson, Ola Belle Reed and Earl Scruggs, new talent is being groomed every day. But the music coming down from the mountains is not what influenced Scott and Seth Avett early on. Growing up in the relatively flat south central North Carolina town of Concord, the brothers were drawn to Nirvana and Faith No More. Grunge, not bluegrass. Hard rock, not hillbilly music.
That changed in the mid-90s when they wound up at Merlefest, the late Watson’s annual traditional-music festival in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, where Gillian Welch and David Rawlings reordered their world.
“I was absolutely sold,” recalls Scott Avett. “I also saw a band called the Blue Rags, which were also pop. And those guys were also mingling with bands like Old Crow Medicine Show … We were hugely influenced by that.
“These guys [were] young, but they [were] playing blues, ragtime, bluegrass, something that I couldn’t put my finger on, and I was moved,” says Scott, 37. “It was like watching The Muppet Show or something. A brilliant band. I felt some sort of relationship to it. That’s why it led me to the banjo, as an ironic instrument.”
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