The Avett Brothers Return to SB: Tues., Feb. 10

UCSB Arts & Lectures presents, back by popular demand, The Avett Brothers in concert Tues., Feb. 10 at the Arlington Theatre

"Revved-up, bluegrass-steeped pop... heartfelt, plain-spoken hooks and harmonies straight from the North Carolina mountains they grew up around." Rolling Stone

"Seth and Scott Avett aren't content to merely play gorgeous roots music... they craft alternately stompy and swoony music that's rooted in a desire for self-improvement." NPR

UCSB Arts & Lectures presents, back by popular demand, The Avett Brothers in concert Tues., Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. at the Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St., in Santa Barbara.

Since 2010, when they blew us away with their kinetic, house-raising Santa Barbara debut, The Avett Brothers have entered the pantheon of quintessential American bands.

Drawing from deep reservoirs of ear-pleasing punk, folk, country and bluegrass, yet transcending the limits of any genre or label, the brothers keep their songs honest: just chords with real voices singing real melodies. But the heart and boundless energy with which they are sung are why people keep talking about them and why so many sing along.

About The Avett Brothers

Life's rich ephemerality. That's what Magpie and the Dandelion – The Avett Brothers' most recent album – is about. The things in life we can never repeat. People we will never see again. Relationships that run their course. Words that will never be spoken or sung in exactly the same way. That moment in a concert we experience only one time. Once. Then it's over. Gone. Poof.

When The Avett Brothers went into the studio in early 2011 to begin recording their sprawling song cycle of the following year, The Carpenter, they actually brought in enough material for two albums. It was a heady, exciting session, ideas bouncing everywhere, new experiments attempted, used, discarded. But not everything fit neatly into The Carpenter's grand narrative about love and life, aging and mortality. So the Brothers put the extra songs on a shelf and hit the road to perform for their fans.

It was a tough tour. That September, bassist Bob Crawford took a leave of absence after his baby daughter, Hallie, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The next two years would continue to be challenging. Brothers Scott and Seth Avett's beloved aunt, Alice Haas, would die from cancer, and Seth's marriage would fall apart. The universal and remarkably mature truths the Brothers had explored on The Carpenter – in lyrics like, "If I live the life I'm given, I won't be scared to die," "You and I, we're the same" and "We're not of this earth for long" – had become very immediate and very personal. It so happens that the songs the Avetts had put on a shelf reflected that sense of urgency.

In their 14 years of performing and touring, from small clubs in their native Southeast to big arenas around the world, The Avett Brothers have spent lots of time thinking about variety, dynamics and song placement. Early on, they just wanted to create the right mood and arc for frenetic shows full of ringing acoustic guitars and banjos, chirpy vocal harmonies, lots of hooting, hollering, hand-clapping and foot-stomping. When the Avetts took that explosive sound into recording studios, they initially sought to recreate the energy of their shows. Their earliest full-length studio albums for the Concord indie label Ramseur – Country Was (2002), A Carolina Jubilee (2003) and Mignonette (2004) – were fine documents of specific moments in time, but it wasn't until the Avetts recorded Emotionalism in 2007 that they began thinking more in the tradition of great LPs from rock's golden age – albums like The Band's 1968 milestone, Music from Big Pink, or Neil Young's 1972 classic, Harvest.

The Avett Brothers' subsequent releases – I and Love and You in 2009 (which was recently certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America), The Carpenter in 2012, and now Magpie and the Dandelion (2013), all produced by Rick Rubin and released on American Recordings – have thrust the Brothers into the pantheon of quintessential American bands. When the Avetts think of variety, dynamics and song placement today, the results are more novelistic. Today, their narrative folk-rock tells bigger stories about what it means to be Southern, to be American, to be alive.

Perhaps the larger truth that Magpie achieves is showing that The Avett Brothers have grown far beyond their old pigeonhole of being those quaint, foot-stomping, banjo-picking Southern boys who sparked a back-to-basics trend in rock. Says Seth Avett: "I think, genre-wise, we continue to give little attention to what's said about us – you know, the banjos on the radio thing. At this point, that's more of a humorous afterthought. The idea of there being a movement – if there is such a thing – I think we're on the other side of that."

The Avett Brothers will be featured on Asleep at the Wheel's album Still The King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, due out in March, alongside other guest artists including Amos Lee, Lyle Lovett, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. Seth Avett's album of Elliott Smith covers with Jessica Lea Mayfield – a project three years in the making – will also be released in March.

The Avett Brothers' concert is presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures.

For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at (805) 893-3535 or purchase online at www.ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu.Tickets are also available through the Arlington box office at (805) 963-4408 and Ticketmaster.

 

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