Jessie Goodson, Campus Carrier Features Editor
What do you get when you combine two musical farm boys, a Korean cellist, an Italian pianist, a Floridian drummer, a Jersey boy violinist and an entrepreneurial fiddler?
Urban Dictionary describes The Avett Brothers as “the ultimate combination of banjos, screaming, intense facial hair and awesomeness.”
With a quick look at The Avett Brothers’ website, you can gain an insight to who the band was, is and will be. It’s hard to give them one genre; you can’t really. They’re a combination of folk, rock, bluegrass, punk, country and Americana. You never know what the next song will hold – that’s what makes listening to them so intriguing.
Seth and Scott Avett grew up on a small farm in Concord, N.C. They were two young boys with big city dreams taking local piano and guitar lessons. Originally, they started a rock-and-roll band called “Nemo” in the late 1990s. Eventually, they realized that they weren’t the rockers they thought themselves to be, so naturally they began to do what all failed rockers do: play folk.
Actually, the brothers just wanted to play original songs to people who would listen. The brothers’ first addition was their pianist and violinist, Bob Crawford, a New Jersey man who moved south to play music. Next was Joe Kwon, a Korean-born cellist who quit his day job at a successful computer company to play music full-time.
Soon after, the band added three touring members. Italian musician Paul Defiglia joined the brothers in 2011. Defiglia played the only upright bass solo in the 35-year history of “The Late Show” with David Letterman. Miami-born Mike Marsh gave the band rhythm in 2012 with his drumming skills.
With a full team of six men, the band felt that they were missing any sort of femininity. So they recruited internationally-touring fiddler, Tania Elizabeth, in 2013.
Over time and many album releases, the band added members but never changed that folky bluegrass sound they’re known for. All of their music is engulfed in emotion, depression, pain, love and passion. They sing about real human experiences that they’ve had because they know that other people will understand them.
“Decide what to be and go be it,” The Avett Brothers.
The Avett Brothers have recorded 18 albums of original music, including LPs, EPs, live albums and singles, since it was just the two original brothers.
Their first two albums, “Country Was,” in 2002, and “A Carolina Jubilee,” in 2003, set the stage for their raw and simplistic sound. The harmonies between the two brothers combined with all-American folk intertwine perfectly and give you a sense of what to expect from the band.
“The day will come, the sun will rise, and we’ll be fine,” The Avett Brothers.
The Avett Brothers have released four live and two commentary albums. Listening to these can really give you a sense of what a concert or a day with the band would be like. They share their songwriting experiences and before you know it, you’ve listened to five different albums and cried over all of the commentary. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience.
Their latest album, “True Sadness,” released in 2016, is just what it sounds like, true sadness. I mean that in the best way possible; it’s arguably my favorite album they’ve done. It’s a wonderful mixture of sorrow and joy, along with harmonies that somehow remind you of The Beatles and Bob Dylan at the same time. “Divorce Separation Blues,” “Victims of Life” and “Ain’t No Man,” featured on “True Sadness,” are proof of how diverse the Avett Brothers really are.
The Avett Brothers have received four Americana Music Awards and have been nominated for four more.
In 2013, they were Grammy nominees for Best Americana Album with “The Carpenter.” This year, in 2017 they were nominated for two Grammies, Best American Roots Performance with “Ain’t No Man,” and Best Americana Album with “True Sadness.”
Maybe you’re not a folk fan, or maybe you’ve never listened to it before. But take it from me and the other million monthly listeners; The Avett Brothers have something for everyone. Get on Spotify and set your inner banjo free.