The Avett Brothers are a band you have to see to get. Their shows crackle with the electricity and warmth of a family get-together. The trio's traditional instrumentation -- acoustic guitar, banjo, and stand-up bass -- belies their origins. These are old-school punks from the Southeast's Piedmont region, whose DIY ethos and in-the-moment attitude have made them one of the most unusual bluegrass-inflected groups around.
In 1998, Scott Avett and younger brother Seth began playing in Scott's punk band, Nemo. After gigs, they would retire to Scott's place and play acoustically with friends. Those all-night jams grew into a side project with the release of an EP.
Nemo eventually imploded, and the Avett Brothers moved to the fore. Scott, just a singer before, picked up the banjo. They played marathon sets made up of originals and covers by Doc Watson, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Derroll Adams, Dylan, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and even Tom Waits. What's more, they performed everywhere.
"We'd really been busking a lot," says Scott from their tour van. "Playing anywhere we could at any time, and we were pretty reluctant to involve anyone else. We were just going to do it with the two of us, influenced by people like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings."