WILKESBORO, N.C. — The Avett Brothers, Concord, North Carolina’s favorite musical sons, hit the stage at MerleFest tonight. Members of the folk rock band are no strangers to the Americana festival that has helped kick off the outdoor music season for 28 years — or to its founder, the legendary flat-picker Doc Watson. Today’s appearance is the group’s seventh at MerleFest since 2004 and their second since Watson died in 2012. At a festival press conference this afternoon which was broadcast live using VisitNC‘s Periscope, Twitter’s new livestreaming app, band members — Seth and Scott Avett along with Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon — talked about coming home to their favorite North Carolina barbecue, sustainable farming in Cabarrus County, how they plan to carry on the Watson legacy and what MerleFest means to them.
Where is your favorite place in North Carolina? And where is your favorite place to eat North Carolina ‘cue?
Scott Avett: We travel so much, but North Carolina is a great place to come home to. It’s all terrific from the mountains to the coast. I was raised on Lexington barbecue, but I would have to say Skylight Inn in Eastern N.C. is the best on the planet after the experience I had a few weeks ago.
You support sustainable farming in Cabarrus County (North Carolina). What’s that about?
Scott Avett: The Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm is a sustainable farming school. In my perspective, young farmers are very much like rock stars. There are some really courageous young people farming. It takes the same courage it took for me to just go out on the road at 26 years old with no hope in hell to go anywhere but play the next song and the next song in the next town. I still can’t help but see the farm industry the way I see the music industry. Just dig in and do it and enjoy what you are doing.
How do you carry on Doc Watson’s legacy?
Seth Avett: Doc didn’t seem to be concerned with living up to a certain genre, just carrying on tradition in his music. His message was to stay true to yourselves and be good to other people, not get too caught up with looking at ourselves or thinking too much of ourselves.
Scott Avett: Seth spent the day with Doc when he was 13 years old, and as we learned about Doc and as we explored if there was such thing as proper bluegrass, Doc seemed to be a bridge between the mainstream world and a deep-woods world. It has little to do with North Carolina and much to do with something much broader.
What does MerleFest mean to you?
Seth Avett: MerleFest is the centerpiece and understands the pulse of American roots music. Coming back here always makes us feel like we are checking back in to the heart of the music.