Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Avett Bros. cut short in big moment

Well, that was sort of anticlimactic.

The Avett Brothers' appearance on the David Letterman show was cut short Monday night (actually, early Tuesday morning). The band was a minute and a half, maybe two minutes, into the song "I and Love and You" when CBS (or maybe WBTV here in Charlotte) cut to commercial. (UPDATE: Fans from other cities tweet that they saw everything just fine. Could the Charlotte station be the only one that cut off the hometown band?)

The show came back on with Letterman standing with the band, saying "great song, guys" and waving goodbye.

Avett fans on Twitter are NOT happy.

What was on sounded good, if truncated -- if you know the song, you might have been able to tell that the intro was cut short. Late-night talk shows are notorious for giving bands small time windows, and the full version of "I and Love and You" -- which runs five minutes on the CD -- probably didn't fit. The show might have been running late, anyway -- after the Avetts were cut short I looked at the clock and it was 12:33. The show ends at 12:35.

It's been awhile since I've watched a late-night talk show all the way through... that felt like a loooong hour. The first two guests were Felicity Huffman ("Desperate Housewives") and Dr. Mehmet Oz (surgeon and frequent "Oprah" guest). Letterman did get off a Carolina-related joke in the monologue -- he said John Edwards had been through New York, and then showed an impregnated Statue of Liberty. We should be so proud.

 We'll see if there's any Letterman bump for the Avetts... the album goes on sale Tuesday. As in, today.

Here is a video posted overnight to YouTube.com:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Avett Brothers Week, Day 5 -- Friday time-waster edition

First off, thanks to everyone who followed along this week... this was a lot of fun for me. I'll be really interested in what you think of the story on Sunday -- leave your comments in the story or just come back here and let me know your thoughts.

(The other dispatches from Avetts Week: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4.)

Today's Avett offerings are a little longer than the ones earlier in the week. This might be my favorite Avetts video -- it's a mini-concert they did for NPR a few months ago. It's about 15 minutes long and features "Laundry Room" (from the new album), "Down With the Shine" (unreleased) and "Bella Donna" (from the '07 EP "The Second Gleam.")

The other nugget is also from NPR -- it's a segment of the "World Cafe" show that aired last night. It has a few minutes of an interview with the band, plus three songs from the new album -- "Kick Drum Heart," "I and Love and You" and "Laundry Room."

Finally, here's an early review of the album from Paste magazine. It's a pain in the butt to read -- it's a digital copy of the magazine, and you have to search for "Avett" to find it -- but they love the record: 96 out of 100.

Key quote: "Having conquered every Saturday night music hall and holler between Asheville and Portland, they have made a record that is not just a stab at the mainstream -- it's a harpoon through its sternum."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Avett Brothers Week, Day 4 -- new video shot in Charlotte

(For more on Avett Brothers Week -- leading up to my story on the band this Sunday -- check here, then here, then here.)

This morning the Avetts released the video they shot at Charlotte's Neighborhood Theatre back in July for the song "I and Love and You." It's on Myspace, and they won't let it be embedded into this post, but click here for the video.

As you'll see, they also shot some of the video around the Avetts' homes outside Concord. Their parents, Jim and Susie, are in there, along with crew members and friends. And if you were in the front couple of rows at the Neighborhood Theatre shoot, you're probably in the video.

Before I go, some Avett links from Twitter:

@theavettbros is the band's official Twitter feed.

@avettnation is a fan-oriented feed also affiliated with the band -- there's some overlap but @avettnation tends to be more prolific.

@joekwon80 is the feed from Joe Kwon, the Avett's cello player, featuring occasional haikus and photos of meals from the road.

And remember, you can listen to streaming audio of the new record all this week on NPR.

More thoughts on the new record or anything else Avett? Let's hear it...

I'm talking tonight...

as part of the New South for the New Southerner series at the Levine Museum of the New South uptown. It starts at 5:30; the real draws are my Observer colleague Sarah Aarthun, WCNC anchor Sonja Gantt, and appetizers from Mert's.

We'll be talking about living in the CLT, answering your questions and plugging Living Here -- the Observer's magazine for newcomers -- which comes out this Sunday.

The event costs $5 and they ask for an RSVP; here's more details. Hope to see y'all there.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Avett Brothers Week, Day 3 -- more video, plus fans debate!

(For earlier dispatches from Avetts Week, click here and here.)

Today's video clip is "Will You Return," from the 2007 album "Emotionalism." You'll see cello player Joe Kwon here -- he joined the band in '07 -- along with friends and crew members jammed in the back of the Avetts' tour bus. This song is an example to me of the band's evolution -- there's still a banjo in there, and they're still playing loud, but what carries the song is the early-Beatles-era melody.

A reminder: You can listen to the new album, "I and Love and You," streaming on NPR from now until the record hits stores on Tuesday.

A couple of other links:

-- The latest in the band's roll-out of mini-videos for each song on the new album: "Laundry Room."

-- The debate among longtime fans over the direction of "I and Love and You" is fascinating. Check out this discussion on the Avetts' official site and this one on the NPR site.

Let's continue the discussion here. Is the new record too different from the Avetts' older stuff, is it a natural progression, or something in between? I'd love to hear your thoughts as we get Sunday's story ready. What do you think?

Avett Brothers Week, Day 2 -- update w/Letterman info

UPDATE: Columbia Records announced today that the Avetts will play David Letterman's show Monday -- the night before "I and Love and You" hits stores -- and will also appear on the Craig Ferguson late-night show Oct. 6. They'll be doing the song "I and Love and You" on Letterman (11:35 p.m. on CBS) and "Laundry Room" on Ferguson (12:35 a.m., also CBS).

(For an explanation of why it's Avett Brothers Week on the blog, check here.)

Yes, the new record -- "I and Love and You" -- is now available for listening. But first, a quick study in contrasts.

The Avetts made their name by playing bluegrass instruments with punk intensity -- a friend of mine described them as Doc Watson and the Clash thrown into a blender. Here's a clip that really shows off that style -- "I Killed Sally's Lover" (from the 2003 album "A Carolina Jubilee"), played at a record-store appearance in Knoxville.

Now then. Late last night, NPR put up "I and Love and You" in its entirety on streaming audio. It's not in stores until next Tuesday, but the streaming version should be up all this week. Thanks to the magic of the embedded player, you can listen to it right here:

The track list:

1. I and Love and You
2. January Wedding
3. Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise
4. And It Spread
5. The Perfect Space
6. Ten Thousand Words
7. Kick Drum Heart
8. Laundry Room
9. Ill With Want
10. Tin Man
11. Slight Figure of Speech
12. It Goes On and On
13. Incomplete and Insecure

(To listen to individual tracks, go here.)

The Avetts have always played around with different arrangements and tempos, and from talking to them, they see "I and Love and You" as a natural progression. But you'll find a very different sound than you hear on that YouTube clip.

So, Avett fans: What do you think of the new songs? Or are you trying to hold off on hearing them until you can get a CD in your hands next Tuesday?

And if you're new to the band, what do you think?

Avett Brothers Week begins

So this Sunday we're publishing a story I've been working on about the Avett Brothers -- the band from Concord that puts out its first major-label record, "I and Love and You," on Sept. 29. To lead into the story, I'm making this week on the blog Avett Week. Every day I'll post a video from the band's career and add a couple of links... if you're not familiar with these guys, by the end of the week I hope you'll be caught up. I also hope to have some news on the band to post along the way.

Today's video is the earliest I could find on YouTube -- it's from 2003, a couple years after the band formed. You'll see Scott Avett on banjo, Seth Avett on guitar and Bob Crawford on bass. They didn't have a title for this song at the moment, but it later became "Swept Away," on the 2004 album "Mignonette."

It's a fan video, so it's pretty ragged -- Seth's head never quite makes it into the light -- but then again, the band was pretty ragged back then too. Still, you can already start to hear their knack for melody.

Today's links:

The Avetts' official site.

Their bio on the Columbia Records site.

Avett fans: What are some of your favorite videos/sites? Add 'em in the comments, please...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Misty water-colored... daisies?

For some reason -- no idea why -- the childhood song that plays the most in my mind's jukebox is "A Daisy a Day." It's a sweet little story -- 98 percent high-fructose corn syrup -- about a couple who walk the streets together, and how the guy thinks about his love even after she passes on.

I'll give you a daisy a day, dear / I'll give you a daisy a day / I'll love you until the rivers run still / And the four winds we know blow away.

I'm not good at remembering lyrics -- I can't even come up with the whole chorus of "Kookaburra," and we sang that roughly 6 million times in elementary school -- but damn if I won't be cutting grass or reading a book and find myself whistling "Daisy a Day." Whatever hook that melody has on me, it's sunk deep.

I thought about "Daisy a Day" when I heard that Henry Gibson died. The obit mentions his big break as a cast member on "Laugh-In" and his movie work, including his classic role as the head Nazi in "The Blues Brothers." But I was disappointed that it didn't mention what I remembered most -- his hit version of "A Daisy a Day." For years, every time that song has played in my head, I can see him singing it.

So I went to YouTube, the home of every inch of video ever shot, to find the clip. I looked. And kept looking. And then went to Google.

I couldn't believe it.

Henry Gibson, best I can tell, never sang "A Daisy a Day." He carried a daisy around as his comedy gimmick -- remember, this was the '60s -- but he didn't sing.

It was another "Laugh-In" regular who did the song -- Jud Strunk, who had a top-20 hit with it in 1973, when I was 9. Here he is doing the song on Carson:

(Unbelievable factoid of the day: According to the Jud Strunk website, "A Daisy a Day" was the first song played on the moon. This falls under the category of "too good to check.")

The point is, for the last 30-some years, I have held in my mind the indisputable fact that Henry Gibson sang "A Daisy a Day." And now it turns out I was completely wrong.

So I'm wondering which other childhood memories are wrong. Did Anna Cheshire not wink at me that day in second grade? Did I not find that magazine of dirty jokes and have NO idea what they were talking about? Did I not goof around with darts and stick holes in our new Formica table? (No, I'm pretty sure that one's real... my mom still gets steamed about it.)

Here's some advice for you 9-year-olds out there: Start writing it all down. Now. Or someday you'll be humming "Billie Jean" and thinking about that great singer, Michael Jordan.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

100 Words Or Less: What would YOU say to schoolkids?

By you know you've heard all about the controversy over President Obama's speech to the nation's schools today; maybe you've even read the text. What I'd like to know this morning is what YOU would say to America's schoolchildren, if you had the chance.

I'd prefer that this doesn't turn into an argument over the president's policies -- if you're interested in that, the conversation on my Sunday column has been going on for a couple of days now. Take this time to think about what the children of this country ought to hear. And although President Obama is taking a lot more words, you have to do it in 100 words or less.