When The Avett Brothers graced the stage at our Dear Jerry: Let’s Play 2 concert event back in 2016, we at Blackbird became instant fans. Since then, we’ve brought the bearded brothers on the road with us for the 2017 Outlaw Music Festival Tour where they performed their patented brand of Carolina folk music. Their incredible energy on stage is the subject of a new documentary which just landed on HBO.
Over the past five years, Scott and Seth Avett have allowed filmmakers Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio to follow their rise to fame. The result is May It Last, a touching portrait of these troubadours, their friends and family, and the recording of their most recent album True Sadness. Here are just a few things we learned about the Avetts after watching this delightfully moving film.
1. Producer extraordinaire, Rick Rubin, signed the Avetts back in 2008. He’s worked on landmark records like Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik and hundreds of other chart-topping discs. Despite his lengthy and storied career, he has incredible affection for The Avett Brothers. “In the first 30 seconds of meeting them,” he says, “I knew they were people I wanted to work with. And it seems like being around them would make life better.” Now that’s a compliment!
2. The brothers still live in their hometown of Concord, North Carolina. In fact, they live right down the road from each other, just a few miles from their parents’ house. Family is a huge part of May It Last, and a big inspiration for the brothers’ music.
3. At the beginning of their musical career the Avetts rebelled against their blue collar, Southern upbringing desiring to act more like Kurt Cobain and other rock acts before coming back to the North Carolina sound. After their detour, Seth says he wanted to play “a country-based, rural type of music with a vengeance.”
4. At 14 years old, Seth Avett’s life changed after meeting legendary songwriter Doc Watson at his home. Later that night, the young songwriter sold merch for his idol. This meeting really opened the door for Seth’s eventual return to acoustic music: “I felt that volume and power were synonymous” he says. “The power comes from character.”
5. When Seth was in high school he would record songs on a cassette tape and mail them to Scott who was away at college. Thus began a decades-long songwriting partnership that remains to this day.
6. Before the brothers were sweetly crooning on stages all over the world, they helmed a screamo/heavy-rock band called Nemo.
7. Bassist Bob Crawford had only played upright bass a handful of times before he began gigging with The Avett Brothers — a fact Seth and Scott discovered recently after touring with him for several years.
Blackbird Presents is not affiliated with this documentary. May It Last is now available for streaming on HBO.