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The Avett Brothers Live In New Haven, May 31

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All photos by Geoff Tischman

The vibe was very Northern California at the Westville Music Bowl in New Haven, CT, an open-air tennis stadium where North Carolina’s Avett Brothers would have blown the roof off the place, had there been one. It was a clear, cool evening, and the audience was decked out for summer in flip flops and cargo shorts and graying beards, a few Grateful Dead t-shirts…I could have been at the Greek on the UC Berkeley Campus. The atmosphere was one of delight, for sure, the venue about two-thirds full of people who absolutely love The Avett Brothers.

And why shouldn’t they? Heartfelt and earnest and committed are adjectives we use to describe many of the bands we loved and love, and The Avett Brothers fit the bill with a combination of earnestness, intensity and passion and impeccable, dare I say astonishing, musicianship. As a dear friend of mine once said of Bob Marley, “he spent his life doing what he loved.” We can certainly say the same for Scott and Seth Avett and their merry band of incomparable musicians. They play their hearts out.

The Avett Brothers’ music meets the definition of eclectic, drawing from The Band, The Pogues and Bruce Springsteen, among many other titans of rock played upon a foundation of folk music. Throw in some spirituals, some funk basslines, Scott’s unbelievable banjo playing – who doesn’t love a banjo, especially when it shows up in unexpected places? – and then Seth straps on an electric guitar and just hammers away, just a few blistering solos served up alongside upright bass, piano, cello and fiddle. The entire evening was just a storm of beautiful music played for keeps. And the lights were amazing.

Scott and Seth treated us to an acoustic set before the final songs of the show, which came at us like a furnace blast of joy. And of course, when the played “I and Love and You,” everyone sang along. This is a beloved band, and a few songs into any of their shows it’s impossible not to see why. If they show up a shed near you this summer, throw on a pair of shorts and your favorite concert t-shirt and don’t miss it.

It’s summer, and The Avett Brothers are in town. Our luck is in.