Why you might not want to go: While the David Grisman Sextet, the Travelin' McCourys, Jim Lauderdale, Donna the Buffalo, Trampled By Turtles, Scythian and the Emmitt-Nershi Band drape themselves in traditional trappings, the number of unknown bands with silly names (Grandpa's Cough Medicine, Dread Clampitt, Sloppy Joe, the Wetherman, et.al.) somewhat dilutes the star power and leaves doubts as to what to expect. OK, maybe it's unfair to judge a group by its handle, but compare this fest to gatherings like Newport, Telluride Bluegrass, the Folks Festival and Rocky Grass, and sorry to say we look like also-rans in the festival finals. We're not even close.
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In fact, one of the things that distinguish the Avetts from their like-minded peers is their ability to combine a wistful and plaintive approach with the irresistible urgency of cascading choruses that seep into the consciousness. "I want to have friends that I can trust/ for the man I've become and not the man I was," they croon convincingly in "The Perfect Space, one of I And Love And You's many highlights. Producer Rick Rubin, clearly no slouch when it comes to illuminating the dark recesses of a musician's mind, sustains the Avetts' unfettered style, but subtlety fleshes it out along the way, adding jaunty piano interludes, the occasional fiddle, and sudden shifts in rhythm that add distinction to the effort overall. Consequently, a stunner of a song like the sprightly "Kick Drum Heart" or the hart-wrenching "Laundry Room" each morph into a tour de force, exceptional examples of the band's dual ability to shift the dynamic and alter the mood accordingly.
The 15th Annual Suwannee Springfest. With the Avett Brothers, the David Grisman Sextet, the
Travelin' McCourys, Jim Lauderdale, Donna the Buffalo, Trampled By
Turtles, Scythian and the Emmitt-Nershi Band. March 24 to 27, 2011 at Live Oak Florida's Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. Early bird tickets can be purchased until January 31 for $125. From February 1 to March 15, tickets cost $150. From March 16 - March 23, tickets will cost $165. Tickets cost $180 at the gate. Single day tickets and two-day passes with camping are also available. Click here.