Sunday, August 2, 2009

Avett Brothers

Today I’ve been working on a post about beards for that other blog, Culture Shock. It’s a big hairy story that keeps growing, despite my efforts to trim it. While struggling to untangle my thoughts and comb through the prose, I've been listening to NPR’s live-streaming and archived videos from the Newport Folk Festival held this weekend (the 50th anniversary of that remarkable event). I heard some stunning performances, starting with a reminder of just how great Gillian Welch and David Rawlings are. She writes eloquent songs that sound as if they've been around forever. He accompanies her on a guitar that puts out a tone that I'd recognize in about three notes. Together they sing perfect harmonies. Joan Baez performed too. Half-a-century after her first performance at Newport, her voice is still crystalline and pitch perfect.

This post isn't about the Newport Folk Festival though. Since I began by writing about beards, this post is about the Avett Brothers, who are bearded (as are so many of the young people these days) and who put in a great set at the Festival. I first heard about the Avetts from my sisters and niece who saw them perform at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park a few years ago. They became instant fans, as did I after listening to their recordings.

Here’s the official video of the boys singing “Murder in the City”--a sweet song about family love, and a relatively quiet tune for them. I particularly like the opening lyrics:

If I get murdered in the city, don’t go revengin’ in my name.
One person dead from such is plenty, no need to go get locked away.

I like the exuberance of the Avett Brothers. They just put it all out there. No wimpy, delicate whispering in delicate falsetto--not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just like someone who can belt out a tune with power from time-to-time. If the two real brothers and the honorary brother can do it harmony, all the better. If one is banging on a banjo while stomping on a kick drum, that’s good too. Here's a rambunctious little number called "Talk on Indolence." [Warning: Beards get shaved off in this video].

This next one is from one of those horrible morning news shows, with newscasters who don't quite know what to make of it all. This show is called "North Carolina Now!" The music starts at about 2:10 if you can't bear to watch the interview. The segment ends with the banal question, "What message do you want your listeners to take away from your music?"


Stephen said...

I posted about them, forgetting that I read about them at your place first. Sorry. I would have given you the credit you deserve but I kept running into reviews of them & I didn;t remember the sources. I remain a fan of your work.

MightyToyCannon said...

Hey Stephen, no problem with the lack of attribution! I saw your post about the Avett's and am just glad to hear that other people like them as much as I do.

I'm reminded that I haven't posted anything to this blog for too long! I better get busy.