with video: Avett Brothers return with a new CD and a bigger venue, Hill Auditorium
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com file photo
“The Avett Brothers are a terrific success story. It's been fun to watch their popularity increase exponentially over the last few years on both the local and national scenes,” said Marianne James, executive director of The Ark, which is presenting the show.
“They're also a great example of how The Ark works with artists to help build a regional audience,” she added. “We first presented them in The Ark in 2007 and 2008 and they played to audiences of 282 and 365 people. People who were there definitely have some bragging rights.
“We presented them next in 2010 in the Michigan Theater, which is 1,700 seats, and they sold it out. Then we featured them as the Friday night headliner for the 2011 Ann Arbor Folk Festival in Hill Auditorium, which sold out at 3,500 seats. This year we've brought them back to Hill on their own and it's another sold-out show. We're big fans and glad to see them doing so well,” James said.
The band is touring in support of its new album, “The Carpenter.” The past two years have seen The Avett Brothers really catch fire, thanks to a major label deal, a mentor in the form of respected producer Rick Rubin, and their breakthrough 2009 album "I and Love and You.”Guitarist Seth Avett and his banjo-picking brother Scott formed The Avett Brothers in 2001 with stand-up bass player Bob Crawford and, eventually, cellist Joe Kwon and drummer Jacob Edwards (who reports indicate is no longer with the band).
Thanks to their past appearances here, local fans know an Avett Brothers’ live show is a sing-along, clap-along, dance-along, high-energy affair, with the audience on its feet for much of the set.
Like so many bands, The Avett Brothers are hard to classify musically, shifting from quiet balladry to power chords, sometimes within the same song. In the words of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, they're “a band that exploits the tensions between the rustic Old South and the cosmopolitan New South, between rootsy bluegrass and rowdy punk rock, between reverence and irreverence.”
Said Stephen Thompson of NPR: "'The Carpenter' carries serious thematic weight—fully half its songs address death in some way or another. But there's still an appealing sense of lightness to it, whether in the lilting 'Down With the Shine,' the churning rocker 'Pretty Girl From Michigan' (the latest in a long line of The Avett Brothers' 'Pretty Girl From [Place]' songs), and playfully stompy rave-ups like the 97-second 'Geraldine.’”
The new album’s first single, “Live and Die,” is banjo-driven, which just goes to show how much more accepted the banjo has become as an instrument, Scott Avett told Rolling Stone in a 2012 interview.
“There's teenagers playing the banjo again! When I was a teenager, that was ridiculous,” he said.
“‘I and Love and You’ was kind of the freshman attempt at Chapter Two of our existence as a band. This record is a much purer approach to that, which will be joyful and more painful in some ways,” Avett added.