Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Avett Bros. Meet Randy Travis

The earliest memories I have of country music are going to my Uncle Kenneth's bluegrass shows that he held in his aircraft hangar in Sadler, Texas. I got my proper country music education from a 20 record set that spanned the progression of country music from the early 1920s to the then current date of the 1970s given to me by my Grandpa. I was 5 years old at that time. I distinctly remember singing "Hey, Good Lookin" to a girl in first grade. That song convinced her to "go with me." My Dad always liked to ask where we were going...HA!

I'm not sure when I became aware of Randy Travis but I do remember the song that got me. It was "He Walked on Water." That song will actually give me chills. I was pretty close to my Grandpa growing up, and that song takes me back to that time. I miss him a lot. So I "get" Randy Travis, and man he was huge back in the day.

A few years ago after the Nashville flood the wife and I were just about over the edge with getting the house back together, spending money we didn't have and trying to put things back to normal. Each night that summer we would sit on the porch, drink a little wine and listen to Pandora. Every so often a song would come and I would say, "Who is that!" It was always the Avett Brothers. So we decided we needed to own their music and that was the Avett Bros. summer. We listened to them every night. We went to see them at the Ryman. Then we started traveling to see them. This was an actually living, breathing band that was alive and writing new songs that I loved. A rare thing for me.

 Fast forward to last week. A good friend of mine that I went to college with and later art directed country music videos for, invited us to the taping of CMT's Crossroads. This episode featured The Avett Brothers and Randy Travis. I knew the wife was going to be excited. She clapped her hands, jumped up and down and said, "oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!" So I guess she was excited about getting up close to the Avett boys.

I had just finished redoing the interior of the Caddy, and it was just days before the weather changed into being too cold, so we dropped the top and headed to Franklin, TN. About half way there I realized that Ang really wanted to see the show, and taking the Caddy might have been a risky choice. I just had tons of mechanical work done on it but I was still concerned. What if she blew a hose, or threw a belt? I tensed up. The good news is that the Caddy did fine, and we made to the show.


Ang admitted she was pretty nervous. "Nervous about what? Watching a show?" She couldn't really explain why she was nervous, she just was. We met Thom and Beth for drinks and dinner. I got lucky; the restaurant, Saffire, had chicken fried chicken, and they knew how to do it. 5 stars!! I also had a martini. I think a good martini should make you want to cry...just a little. This was one good but no tears were shed.

 Luckily we had VIP passes. The line was long but we slid in and took our seats. It was great to get to see Randy and the Avetts be themselves between songs. The first 3 or 4 were Avett songs. The last 3 or 4 were Randy songs. I'm not sure if Randy actually learned the words to the Avett songs but he did seem to know how they went, so that was good. Seth and Scott seemed natural and friendly on stage and laughed at the stories Randy told between songs. Randy said that due to recent events he was petty sure they pulled the sign down that said "Home of Randy Travis" in his home town. The Avetts said their sign was down as well, but probably because it was made of cardboard and they had put it up themselves. They were having fun up there.

It was interesting hearing Randy try to use his 80s vocalizations on the Avett lyrics. I will say that when he sang in his natural voice he sounded pretty damn good. It made me want to hear a Randy Travis album with no super low/super high notes. I know that is his signature sound but I think he would sound good singing in his own voice. He blew a few lines but joked with the crowd telling them he was doing pretty good for a guy that had 7 concussions!


At one point Randy was trying to figure the key of a song on his guitar. Scott Avett walked over and took Randy's capo off the head of his guitar and clamped it on Randy's guitar two frets from the top. Randy smiled and Scott smiled. They genuinely seemed to get along.

The mood shifted gears when Randy's band came on stage for the second part of the show. Randy was in his element and they blew most of his classics with one take. I know some folks would say the Avett Bros. are country but they are not on any country spectrum that radio would consider. Scott Avett sounded great singing to Randy's songs. I'd hate to see it happen, but if he had to, I think he could sing "country" music with the best of them.

The show concluded with "Forever and Ever, Amen." It was at the end of this song I realized I was going to get to hear Randy Travis do the ending of that song live. When the time came he worked it! I mean he he took the "Amen" up and down! He took it North, then he ran it South. I never knew you could get so much out of such a small word, and was over. Randy shouted, "GOOD NIGHT!" Everyone was big smiles and we left the building.

PS - Here is one of my favorite Avett Youtube videos.

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