Monday, January 09, 2012

If you like The Avett Brothers, thank The Band

The now-iconic Canadian rock band was still called The Hawks when they first met Bob Dylan in 1965, but by the time he asked them to join his tour as backing band later that year, they had already become simply The Band. In the roughly eight years they performed together under that name, The Band (including prolific songwriters Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm) amassed an extensive catalog of songs, all of which combined R&B-based rock and roll with Southern folk-country to forge a new sound that complemented the direction Dylan had taken since going electric.

It's a recipe that still works today, as evidenced by The Avett Brothers. Listen, for example, to "And It Spread" from their 2009 album I and Love and You:

That slight twang in the vocals. The confident, almost defiant acoustic guitar rhythm. The mournful, wandering fiddle line.

Now listen to The Band's version of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," from their self-titled 1969 album,(a song written by Robertson and covered extensively ever since):

You'll hear the same twang in the vocals. The very same confident, defiant acoustic guitar (right down to the same rhythmic structure.) No mournful fiddle here, but a mournful, wandering harmonica instead.

This was the album that elevated The Band to the pantheon of classic rock gods, influencing all of their peers and, subsequently, countless bands that would follow. Including, evidently, the Avett Brothers. So if you like the Avett Brothers, remember... thank The Band.

No comments: