North Carolina’s the Avett Brothers, aka siblings Scott and Seth Avett, have been making lovely harmonic country folk music since 2000, when they were still in college and high school, respectively. With a slew of critically beloved albums–including this summer’s masterfully emotional True Sadness–and a reputation for rollicking and heartfelt live shows, they’ve become one of the biggest ‘indie’ acts touring today.
And if their show last night at Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center is any indication, their hard-working ethics and dynamic musicianship is a strong as ever. The band played a high soaring set of music from their entire 16-year catalogue in the beautiful Weill Hall, with the back wall open and fans packed on the lawn. Folks sung and clapped along for the two-hour set that saw the brothers power through dozens of their best songs.
With no opener, the band came out strong with an instrumental opener complete with kazoo solos. Backing the banjo picking Scott and guitar slinging Seth is bassist Bob Crawford, cellist Joe Kwon, violinist Tania Elizabeth, pianist Paul DeFiglia and drummer Mike Marsh. The ensemble offered lots of selections from True Sadness, though they also reached back to the earlier works and gave every member of the group a chance to spotlight their talents.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Avett Brothers play live four times now over the last few years, from the fields of BottleRock Napa Valley and under the columns of Berkeley’s Greek Theatre, to an intimate theater in Visalia, and last night’s performance stood out for it’s eclectic mix of song selections and juxtaposition of hushed acoustic and all-out electric power. At one point, Seth took his guitar into the crowd for a blazing rock and roll guitar solo, and Tania Elizabeth damn near stole the show with an amazing violin performance that sounded like a full assortment of stringed players.
Congrats to whoever is booking the shows at the Green Music Center. They’ve got a great ear for music and a great taste for a wide range of acts. For a list of upcoming concerts there, click the link.