The Avett Brothers only played two full sets in April, plus a single song at the Merle Haggard tribute concert in Nashville, a short set at the High Water Festival, and the second Songwriter’s Workshop of 2017 at MerleFest. In those two-plus sets, they played 60 songs including an amazing 48 unique songs, bolstered by the very special “songs we learned from Doc Watson” set they played on the MerleFest hillside.
April 6—”Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard” in Nashville, TN
On April 6, 2017, The Avett Brothers participated in the “Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard” tribute concert at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. I happened to be in Nashville that week and was able to snag myself a ticket. The band shared the stage with some legends of country and popular music: Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Keith Richards, Hank Williams Jr., and Alison Krauss. It was pretty surreal to watch Scott share a microphone with Ronnie Dunn (of Brooks and Dunn). TAB got to play one song: Mama Tried.
April 15—Seth sings Colorado Blue by Alela Diane
On April 15th, Crackerfarm posted a video of Seth, Bob, and Joe performing the song Colorado Blue.
April 23—North Charleston, South Carolina
The band played a short set at the High Water Festival with a pretty standard set list including D Bag Rag, Talk on Indolence, Country Blues, Living of Love, Head Full of Doubt, Slight Figure of Speech, and Laundry Room.
April 27—MerleFest, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina—Watson Stage Set
The highlight of April was definitely The Avett Brothers presence at the annual MerleFest music festival in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Of course MerleFest is important in Avett Brothers history because Scott decided whether or not to accept an offer to study art in graduate school depending on whether or not they received a slot at MerleFest back in 2004. They got the slot and he turned down the MFA program. Here’s our preview of TAB’s participation in MerleFest in 2017.
The Avett Brothers played the headliner slot on the Watson Stage (the main stage) from 9:00 to 11:00pm on April 27th. I didn’t have a great view but they sounded great. The set list was fairly standard with few surprises.
Thankfully DCRANGERFAN had a better view and posted a few videos.
It’s great that they played The Prettiest Thing at MerleFest, but MerleFest needs to have a whole set by David Childers. Just sayin’.
April 28—MerleFest, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina
I started out the morning by meeting up with Jim and Susie Avett. They both signed the Avett Nation banner and then I interviewed Jim for a story about his new gospel album, For His Children and Ours that was published in Huffington Post.
Bob Crawford’s Bass Workshop
I got to MerleFest just in time for Bob’s Bass Workshop at 10am. He was backed by Paul DeFiglia, Mike Marsh, and The Kruger Brothers.
DCRANGERFAN was there too and recorded a few pieces of the workshop.
The best thing about MerleFest is that great music is being performed on multiple stages throughout the day. The most challenging thing about MerleFest is that great music is being performed on multiple stages throughout the day. So much choice can be overwhelming. It was also a hot day and my feet hurt. As a result, I decided to hang out in the Mayes Pit/Cohn Auditorium for a couple of hours before Scott and Seth were scheduled to give their Songwriters’ Workshop. I got to hear intimate performances by Jack Lawrence and The Kruger Brothers. I also got a third row seat for what turned out to be my favorite Avett Brothers event of 2017.
I wrote about the Songwriters’ Workshop the next day. I won’t repeat that content—you can check out the article, which has audio clips and photographs here. DCRANGERFAN had an even better seat than I did and captured the songs on video.
deneicee caught the question that preceded Laundry Room and the entire song.
April 29—MerleFest, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Jim and Bonnie (backed by Ali Parker and Patrick Crouch) played a full set on the Americana stage in the morning. They saved the gospel music for the next day…
Songs We Learned from Doc Watson
The second full set that The Avett Brothers played at MerleFest was on the Hillside Stage. They teased in advance that this set would have an unusual theme and it did—it featured songs that they learned from Doc Watson. (For those outside of North Carolina who are unfamiliar with MerleFest, it is named after Eddy Merle Watson, the son of Doc Watson, who played with his famous father and tragically died in a farm accident. Doc Watson and his music are the centerpiece of MerleFest.)
Seth has told the story many times that when he was about 14 years old, a friend of Jim’s arranged to have Seth spent the afternoon with Doc at his house. Seth even sold merch at Doc’s show that evening. That experience was transformative to Seth. This clip from May it Last talks about Seth’s meeting with Doc Watson and what he learned from it.
The highlights for me were Going Down the Road Feeling Bad…
and Pallet on Your Floor.
Crackerfarm later released a video of Seth singing Beautiful Golden Somewhere acapella backstage at MerleFest. The band played the song in the Hillside Stage set as well.
Mike Marsh Percussion Workshop
Later that day, Mike conducted a percussion workshop in the Mayes Pit/Cohn Auditorium. DCRANGERFAN recorded a few highlights.
April 30—MerleFest, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina
The final Avett appearance at MerleFest was on Sunday morning on the Creekside Stage. Scott, Seth, and Bob showed up for the final handful of songs. I posted a photo gallery here and a write-up with audio clips here. DCRANGERFAN shared some video from the set.
Whew. The Avett Brothers may have only played two full sets in the month of April, but they played a lot of great music.