I had an interesting conversation, Friday, with Avett Brothers bassist Bob Crawford. Before the band plays Everett's Comcast Arena on Friday, I thought I'd catch up with Crawford and mine a few of his thoughts to include in Wednesday's paper, where we'll be writing about our 2011 summer music playlists. In high rotation in Crawford's space is the fiddle and banjo player John Hartford's anthology, Me Oh My, How the Time Does Fly.
I'm not familiar with Hartford's work. But, in Crawford's telling, Hartford had a unique style that did not sit well with bluegrass traditionalists--a description borne out on My Oh My--who were known to boo Hartford out of the room. Such a reception from bluegrass traditionalists has been de rigueur for the Avett Brothers, Crawford says.Crawford says the Avett Brothers played the International Bluegrass Fan Fest in Nashville a number of years ago, even though "we knew then we were not a bluegrass band." They were booed, and haven't traded anywhere near the "bluegrass" label since.
"We don't even walk that line anymore," Crawford says. "We never call ourselves a bluegrass band."
So how does Crawford label the band's banjo-fueled rock-and-roll Americana?
"I don't," Crawford says. "I'll leave that up to you."